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Elective: Comparative Philosophy: Death, Rebirth and Eternal Life

Vak
2015-2016

Admission requirements

This course is only available for second year students in the BA International Studies. The number of participants is limited to 25.

Description

This is a course in cross-cultural philosophy on our relation to death, and what (potentially) comes after. The course will consider philosophical responses to the apparent ending of human lives. One guiding question will be how an awareness of finitude structures and/or restructures our sense of value. Other topics include arguments for immortality, as well as reincarnation and whether eternal life is desirable. The course draws upon readings from multiple philosophical traditions, including ancient Greek philosophy, Indian philosophy (especially Buddhism), philosophy of religion in the Christian tradition, 20thcentury phenomenology and existentialism and contemporary analytic philosophy. Students will be encouraged to incorporate other perspectives into their writing and class discussion.

Additionally, the students will work through W.C. Booth, G.G. Colomb, J.W. Williams, The Craft of Research, third edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Course objectives

The elective courses for International Studies are designed to teach students how to deal with state-of-the-art literature and research questions. They are chosen to enhance the students’ learning experience by building on the interdisciplinary perspectives they have developed so far, and to introduce them to the art of academic research. They are characterised by an international or comparative approach.

Academic skills that are trained include:
Oral presentation skills:
1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course
a. in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;
b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
c. using up-to-date presentation techniques;
d. aimed at a specific audience;
3. to actively participate in a discussion following the presentation.

Collaboration skills:
1. to be socio-communicative in collaborative situations;
2. to provide and receive constructive criticism, and incorporate justified criticism by revising one’s own position;
3. adhere to agreed schedules and priorities.

Basic research skills, including heuristic skills:
1. to collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques;
2. to analyze and assess this literature with regard to quality and reliability;
3. to formulate on this basis a sound research question;
4. to design under supervision a research plan of limited scope, and implement it using the methods and techniques that are appropriate within the discipline involved;
5. to formulate a substantiated conclusion.

Written presentation skills:
1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course
a. in the form of a clear and well-structured written presentation;
b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
c. using relevant illustration or multimedia techniques;
d. aimed at a specific audience.

Timetable

The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website

Mode of instruction

Lecture, seminar style discussion and supervised research.

Course Load

Total course load for the course: 10 EC x 28 hours= 280 hours, broken down by:

  • Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 24 hours

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature: 80 hours

  • Completion of short assignments: 46 hours

  • Researching and writing final paper: 130 hours

Assessment method

Weekly assignments, and a final paper of approx. 4-6,000 words (excluding tables and bibliography).

Note: The maximum possible grade to be obtained for re-submission of the final essay is a 6.0

Blackboard

Blackboard will be used. For tutorial groups: please enroll in blackboard after your enrolment in uSis
Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

Wallace and Wallace. 1997. Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life. Snow Lion Publications. (Required).

Gethin, Rupert. 1998. The Foundations of Buddhism. (Optional but highly recommended).

Booth, W.C., Colomb, G.G., Williams, J.W. 2008. The Craft of Research. Third edition.
University of Chicago Press. (Required).

A list of book chapters and article references for other sources will be made available at the beginning of the semester. (Readings will be provided on blackboard when possible.)

Registration

Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.

Contact

Dr. S.E. Harris, email s.e.harris@hum.leidenuniv.nl