The courses are titled "Thinking the Unthinkable" and "Going Mental".
Going Mental: Revised Syllabus and Description.
Instructors: Chuck Eesley and Erin Cummings
The objective of the course was to investigate perception and perspective in order to reach a deeper understanding of how each contributes to the other in our mental and behavioral lives. This broad objective was pursued through lectures, readings (both philosophic and literary), discussion, projects, writing, film, and field trips. Lectures were largely philosophic and theoretical in nature: topics included Cartesian skepticism, empiricism, Kantian philosophy, feminism, the question of narrative recuperation, structural principles of photography, the nature of selfhood, Foucauldian post-structuralism, the relationship between discourse and power hierarchies, and Baudrilliard and post-modernism. Writings that accompanied these investigations included texts from Borges, Kafka, Asimov, Dennett, Butler, Joyce, Oliver Sacks, Antonio Damasio, Owen Flanagan, and Lydia Davis. Again, some of these writings were works of fiction, while others articulated philosophic arguments, and still others presented psychological studies and findings. Students completed two photo projects: one examined basic principles in shooting and editing, the other involved using photography to depict narrative. Both projects involved a gallery presentation followed by an in-class critique. Students also completed independent projects on topics germane to issues surrounding perspective and perception. These projects were then given to the entire class in a 15-20 minute oral presentation. Films viewed included The Matirx, Last Year at Marienbad, and Memento. Field trips were taken to Dukeâ€™s Brain Imaging and Analysis Center as well as to the North Carolina Museum of Art. In the end, students received an overview of methods for pursuing questions regarding the way in which each of us has her/his life shaped by the perspectival point s/he occupies and the perceptions each of us have as bound by and constructed from that point of view.
Thinking the Unthinkable
Texts: (whole class):
Think on These Things, by J. Krishnamurti
Celestine Prophecy by James
Derrida for Beginners by Jim Powell
Lies My Teacher Told Me, by James Loewen
Godâ€™s Debris by Scott Adams
Looking at Philosophy by Donald Palmer
The Legacy of Luna by Julia Butterfly Hill
The Book by Alan Watts
A Tear and a Smile by Kahlil Gibran
Films: The Color of Fear and Tough Guise
Students should bring a journal and a favorite piece of music
Instructor: Chuck Eesley
TA: Erin Cummings
Overarching Goal: To facilitate the studentsâ€™ exploration of the inner process of converting raw experience into thoughts and words as well as the philosophical and experiential boundaries of rational thought.
"The unexamined life is not worth living."
" Ninety percent of the world's woe comes from people not knowing themselves, their abilities, their frailties, and even their real virtues. Most of us go almost all the way through life as complete strangers to ourselves." - Sydney J. Harris
"We do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness, which no one else can make for us, which no one can spare us, for our wisdom is the point of view from which we come at last to regard the world."
"If we would only give, just once, the same amount of reflection to what we wanted to get out of life that we give to the question of what to do with a two weeks vacation, we would be startled at our false standards and the aimless procession of our busy days."
- Dorothy Canfield Fisher, American author and essayist
"It is the individual who knows how little he knows about himself who stands a reasonable chance of finding out something about himself." - S.I. Hayakawa
In this course we will delve into the mysteries, insights, and depths exploration of the inner process of converting raw experience into thoughts and words as well as the philosophical and experiential boundaries of rational thought. No rock will be left unturned in our interdisciplinary quest to know ourselves. Psychology, Eastern and Western philosophies, poetry, literature, as well as our own stories are all fair game in our journeys inside.
The class explores our assumptions through the angle of how raw day to day experience becomes filtered through the lenses of our minds and personalities into words, thoughts, and ideas. It is only through knowing ourselves, our assumptions, and the particular lens through which we see the world that we will ever truly be able to understand others and society. If you can get through the roadblocks that you yourself have created, you can begin to understand where others are coming from. With this aim in mind we will also be looking at the aspect of constant interaction of self and society, as it is inherent in our understanding and knowledge.
Social competencies involve awareness of others. They may include empathy, political awareness, the ability to understand others' emotions. However, no one can begin to understand others until one begins to become aware of oneâ€™s own most basic assumptions about the world and how those opinions then shape how one acts and the rest of the structure of knowledge one begins to build on top of that foundation.
The first week of the course will focus on beginning the process of becoming aware of our own beliefs, assumptions about the world, and opinions. Students will begin to define the term self and explore what makes up our sense of who we are in society. We will begin to explore philosophical, cultural, as well as psychological views of who we are as well as what each of our unique perspectives are on the world. Towards the end of the week we will look more closely into the complexities of how it is that we can come to understand people who have significantly different perspectives.
The second week of the course will build on the first by introducing more of the famous thinkers and theories around these issues, such as philosophers Derrida, Alan Watts, Bell Hooks, Sartre. The class will begin to explore how our assumptions, which we looked at during the first week are influenced by the media and advertisement becoming the roots of how we live and act within the world. The students will begin forming groups and thinking about what aspects of our discussion they would like to pursue more in depth in the individual projects and presentations during the third week.
During the final week of class, we will begin to tie everything we have covered together by beginning to look towards the future, with an eye to learn from the past. The class will spend time reviewing all previously covered material as we look towards applying what we have learned to our culture and the responsibilities we have towards understanding the fellow members of our society. Students will present the research topic, which they began during the second week to the rest of the class. Homework will not be assigned, however, students are expected to keep up with readings and journal writing. To complement our interdisciplinary approach, the class will be taught with multiple strategies from lecture, to small group discussions, to large group discussions, group projects, and time for individual reflection and writing.
Introduce ourselves and the class
Consensus format and use to create class guidelines
Mafia / Ice breaker
Introduce Celestine Prophecy
J. Krishnamurti â€“ What is wisdom/knowledge/intelligence?
Nature of Perspective â€“ article from a sociologist
Watch "Einstein, Bill Gates, and the Buddha"
New Perspectives through music/movement
Feminism / Beauty Myth
SKS intro meeting
Violating social norm introduction
Ads as a block / creating conformity
Nouminal vs. Phenomenal (Kant)
Start Independent Projects
Possible field trip to retirement center
Roast and Toast