PHL105: “WHAT TO THINK, WHO TO BELIEVE? A HISTORY OF WESTERN THOUGHT AND PHILOSOPHY DOWN THE AGES”
New Course Offered: 2021 Term 2.
Day and time: Wednesdays from 11:00am-1:00pm.
Dates: First class meets Wednesday 12 May 2021 and continues for 8 consecutive weekly sessions. The last class is on Wednesday 30 June 2021.
Location: Hamilton, or on-line distance learning.
In the postmodern age there is a veritable plethora of ideas, beliefs, opinions, dogmas, dramas and viewpoints all scrambling for our attention and allegiance. It’s a jungle out there – the good, the bad and the ugly. How to sift the dregs from the dry-cleaning, separate the crud from credible assertion, disconnect truth from the drivel and trash?
What helps is the ability to step back and obtain an overview of ideas that have entertained humanity down the ages in order to obtain a certain perspective on matters.
This series of 8 lectures will do just that. From Plato to Popper, from Socrates to Peter Singer, this sequence will span the whole history of Western thought from ancient times up to the present in order to help throw light on our present confusions and conundrums.
Week 1: The Greeks: This is where it all began. Deep thought. These thinkers confronted many of the same puzzles, posers and challenges we today endeavour to solve. Their input set the ground work which has helped sharpen the debate on moral, political and spiritual issues we currently still grapple with.
Week 2: The Romans: They were not all plumbers and imperialists. Some were smart thinkers, among them philosophers who built on thought that had proceeded them; practical sages, from slaves to emperors. Many today still follow their advice and find comfort in their teachings.
Week 3: The Christians: Faith and reason arm wrestled during the medieval period as another layer was added to the foundations of our civilization. This has left a legacy that we are still having to come to terms with as we try to make sense of life, the stars and an inflationary universe out there.
Week 4: The Renaissance: This was a major turning point in our history. It is where we looked back and forward with new found confidence and self-belief – the age of Michelangelo, Columbus, Galileo, Shakespeare, Descartes, Luther and others. It marked the early beginnings of the modern world and the initiation of modern thought.
Week 5: The Enlightenment: The Eighteenth century was a time where many of our contemporary ideas found root; liberty, equality, emancipation from superstition. It set the stage for our thinking and conduct for the next two centuries, where the “smile of reason” prevailed.
Week 6: The Victorians and Others: A lot of hard thinking went on during this period to do with political, social and religious issues. God was pronounced dead but Marx was alive and well. Some of this was prompted by scientific discovery, others by technological change impacting on society. We are still dealing today with the backwash from that disruptive yet innovative period.
Week 7: The Twentieth Century – First Half: Philosophers had a good deal to think about during a time that witnessed two world wars, the Holocaust and the reality of the atom bomb in a context that saw society grow more secular. It was an unsettling half century in which the very meaning of life became an issue for thinking men and women.
Week 8: The PostModerns: Postmodern thinkers pulled the rug out from under the feet of conventional thought, questioning the very foundation of ideas built up over hundreds of years. Modernist assumptions were challenged which directly fed into social issues like feminism, gender and planetary concerns. It was a heady time and our heads are still spinning from the shuddering impact.
Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites for this course.
Distance Learning: This course has distance-learning options for those unable to attend the live class sessions in Hamilton. Students have three options for attending our courses once they have registered:
- attend in-person classes in our Hamilton classrooms at the regularly scheduled day and time,
- attend our live on-line classroom sessions via Zoom at the regular scheduled day and time,
- watch the live-recorded class sessions at your leisure, at a time, day and place more suited to your schedule.
These options can be mixed and matched throughout the course to suit your own availability and location.
Peter Dornauf (MA, Dip Tchg) has taught in secondary schools, Wintec and Waikato University collectively for over 25 years. He is a well know Waikato artist, art critic and a writer of poetry, fiction and non-fiction. His book “Days of Our Deaths” serves as the basis for one of Peter’s other popular EarthDiverse courses, “A Cultural History of Death.” Peter also teaches our “The Spiritual in Modern Art” course and continues to develop additional EarthDiverse courses for future Terms.
In addition to our in-person classes in Hamilton, our courses offer distance learning options for those unable to attend classes in-person. Live-streamed Hamilton classes are available via free Zoom software for those living outside the Waikato. Live-streaming allows you to participate fully in your own learning, ask questions of the instructor and participate fully in the same way as if you were in the physical classroom.
Those unable to attend the scheduled date and time of the actual class sessions, or those who need to miss a class or two due to previous engagements or unexpected illness, can watch any or all of the live-recorded video sessions on their computers, laptops, tablets or mobile devices and study at their own pace and in their own time.
Detailed instructions on how to access our distance learning components will be sent after completing your registration. There are no additional fees for this service. However, distance learners will need access to a desktop or laptop computer with a good quality web-camera (tablet devices and mobile phones can also access our live-streamed classes), a built-in microphone (most modern laptops have built-in microphones) or a headset with a microphone. You will also need to download and install the free Zoom software on your computer or device. Those accessing the video recordings will be able to do so with a simple web browser on any device.
- Any Term can be taken independently of the others, and there are no prerequisites for any of the Term courses.
- This class has no assignments, required readings, quizzes, tests or exams.
- All classes encourage questions and group discussion.
- PDF copies of each class presentation are emailed to all participants the next day so that you are free to focus on class content rather than taking notes. You are most welcome to come, sit back, relax, take part in and enjoy the discussions!
- Course fees include a short tea/coffee/snack break in the middle of each session.
- There are no refunds for missed classes. Missed classes can be made up by watching the on-line recording of the class session, which is usually posted within 24 hours.
- Guests of registered participants are welcome to attend a single class at no charge.
- Certificates of Completion for any particular Term Course or Series are available for Professional Development purposes upon request at the end of each Term or Series.
Cost per person per Term (8 classes):
- Waged: $105 (includes online registration fee)
- Unwaged (unemployed, students, seniors): $85 (includes online registration fee)
Prices for Waged and Unwaged registrants remain the same regardless of your chosen method for accessing our courses. This means that you have the option to mix and match access between attending our regularly-scheduled live class sessions in our Hamilton classrooms, accessing our live class sessions on-line via Zoom at the regularly scheduled class meeting time (no matter where you are located), or watching the video-recorded sessions anywhere at a time and date of your choosing. This allows you to study at your own pace and in your own time.
Once registered, you have three choices for attending your course:
- attend our in-person class sessions in our Hamilton classrooms,
- Zoom in to our live classroom sessions and participate in discussions,
- access the live-recorded class sessions each week. This allows you to register for an entire course, even though the scheduled class session day/time may not be suitable to your schedule. You may also use this option to watch any recorded session for review, or in case you may miss a class session due to prior engagement, being away, or due to illness. This allows you to catch up with any “missed” sessions at a more suitable time.
Once registered, you will receive detailed instructions on how to access our courses via either of the distance-learning options, i.e. live access via Zoom, or watching the video-recorded sessions.
LOCATION: This course is held at Artmakers Trust, Norris Ward Park Arts Centre, 2 Seddon Road, Hamilton, located on the corner of Ward Street and Seddon Road in downtown Hamilton. The carpark entrance is off Seddon Road at the back of Norris Ward Park. Our classrooms are immediately to the left of the Waikato Society of Potters studio and to the right of the Community Men’s Shed. There is plenty of free parking available in the carpark just outside the classroom. Bikes are also welcomed!
DISTANCE LEARNING: You get to choose your location when you Zoom in to our live classroom sessions, or access our classes at your leisure and at a time and day of your choosing by watching the video recorded sessions from each class. This allows you to study at your own pace.