REL 102
The Meaning of Life Fall 2022
Division II
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

As Henry David Thoreau put it, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” attempting to fill the void of their existence with sex, money, ephemeral amusements, and the steady accumulation of unnecessary possessions – basically killing time until the day they die. For some people this might seem to be enough, but this course is for those of us who lie awake at night wondering things like: “Why are we here?” “What does it mean to live a good life?” “How can I be happy?” “What is our duty to others?” “What really matters?” and the biggest question of them all: “What is the Meaning of Life?” This course will trace the diverse responses to these important questions offered by philosophers and religious thinkers in different cultures and time periods. We will read their texts critically and discuss how they can be directly relevant to our lives. Students will also be introduced to abstract theorizing in Religious Studies about how different cultures and traditions have historically come to live meaningfully. Authors and texts to be read may include Aristotle, Hannah Arendt, Marcus Aurelius, the Bhagavad Gita, H. H. Dalai Lama, the Dhammapada, Viktor Frankl, Søren Kierkegaard, Martin Luther King Jr, Shantideva, Peter Singer, Leo Tolstoy, Ibn Tufayl, Max Weber, and Slavoj Zizek.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 40
Expected: 40
Class#: 1309
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: attendance and participation, journal and short writing assignments, midterm and final exams
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: potential religion majors
Distributions: Division II

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