Seminar in the Humanities: "Life, in new perspectives."

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Topics change semester to semester:

For Fall 2018:

Back in the 1930s, philosopher (of phenomenology) Edmund Husserl coined the term “life-world” to express his concerns that modern science structurally could not find its way back to lived experience. Hence, the “life-world” would be misunderstood. We are at a wonderful juncture where biology, neuroscience, ethics, branches of politics and humanities have new ways of speaking together. For example, there is very recent evidence that even our genes respond to our thoughts that wish well to others! This course explores these new perspectives. First we take up Husserl’s challenge and then ask some important questions about the phenomenological approach to existence. Then we explore some important discoveries about our bodies and minds, particularly around the concept of “intention” and its opposite “reveries” and with an overall concern for “ethics.” No science background is required. Readings include such figures as Husserl (philosopher), Bachelard (mathematician, thinker), Diane Ackerman (poet, essayist), Frans de Waal (primatologist, ethicist) and Antonio Dimasio (physician and brain theorist of emotions).

Credits: 3.00

Course Code: HUM 373 F

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.