PHL210: “BEING GOOD: A H(STORY OF MORALITY FROM BABYLON TO BIOETHICS”
Offered: 2022 Term 1
Day and time: Wednesdays from 11:00am-1:00pm (NZ time)
US Time equivalent for this course is Tuesday afternoons 2:00pm (US Pacific), 4:00pm (US Central) and 5:00pm (US Eastern), beginning Tuesday 15 February 2022.
Dates: First class meets Wednesday 16 February 2022 and continues for 8 consecutive weekly sessions. The last session is on Wednesday 6 April 2022.
Location: EarthDiverse, 401 Anglesea Street, Hamilton Central, Hamilton (see map below under Location tab), on-line via Zoom, or through video recordings of our live-streamed sessions posted 1-2 days after each class.
In these conflicted and rapidly changing times, where new terms like “cancel culture” and “de-platforming” have become vogue, the issue of goodness, of right and wrong, are thrown into sharper relief. Race and gender themes, animal rights, global responsibility, cultural relativity, have all become hot topics in the general chatter around the global village. What it means to “be good” has a history and that history is still currently evolving. This course will take a look back at the history of ethics in order to gain some perspective on the matter. It will examine how the ideas of what it has meant to be moral have shifted and morphed over the centuries and are still in the throes of change today.
Week 1: The Ancient World: A look at some of the ancient ethical canons that existed thousands of years ago that reach back as far as the Babylonian code of Hammurabi. Very influential in later documents.
Week 2: The Old Testament: The Jewish Torah and the 10 Commandments have been hugely significant in constructing our morality for thousands of years and is still looked upon as the foundational documents to do with ethical behaviour. Ask Charlton Heston.
Week 3: The Ancient Greeks: This represents the beginning of critical thinking with regard to the whole question of morality. Socrates asked the awkward question about how we can know, definitively, what is good. The rest of the world is still trying to answer that question.
Week 4: The Romans:The best of the Romans, contrary to popular perception, were ethically minded people, although they were also people of their time with all their glaring faults. Let’s not mention the gladiator contests and the blood bath of the Colosseum.
Week 5: The Christians: This is where, in the West, a good many of our values and much of our moral thinking takes its inspiration from. In the twentieth century, some have taken a more critical view of this heritage while others still hold to the precepts enunciated here.
Week 6: The Middle Ages: Christian ethics were obviously dominant during this period, but something called “natural law” came to prominence among certain religious thinkers.
Week 7: Into the Modern World: Renaissance humanism brought with it a new dynamic which fed into ethical thinking much later when it came to Kantian ethics and the utilitarianism of philosophers like Bentham and Mill, trying to work out an ethic independent of religion.
Week 8: The Late 20th Century and on: This is where the ethical ordure hit the fan. Moral realism, mega ethics, virtue ethics, evolutionary ethics, you name it, it was all on. Ethical relativity became a big number and a crisis of thinking took us right back to where Socrates first raised his thorny questions.
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 during 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: NZ$150 (includes GST + online registration fee)
- Unwaged (unemployed, students, seniors): NZ$125 (includes GST + 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: All in-person classes are held at the EarthDiverse offices and classrooms located at 401 Anglesea Street, Hamilton Central, Hamilton (located just north of the Hamilton Central Bus Station) (entrance is located on the side of the building, see map below). Those looking for parking for our evening classes can park just in front of the building in any of the available car parks. Daytime parking can be found in our dedicated car parks, or free 2-hour on-street daytime parking can be found just in front on Anglesea Street.
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.