The Evolution of the Modern Self: From Axial Roots to Postmodern Threshold

School of Consciousness and Transformation PARP 6834 3.00

This course will trace the long gradual forging of the modern self and its dramatic evolution, beginning with its roots in ancient Greek and Judeo-Christian developments; emerging rapidly in the course of the Renaissance, Reformation, Scientific Revolution, and Enlightenment, and then undergoing a major deepening and complication with Romanticism, literary-artistic modernism, and the postmodern era. We will use a close reading of Charles Taylor’s Sources of the Self as the principal course text. Emphasis throughout will be on a sensitive transdisciplinary engagement with the complex historical developments being studied, drawing on not only history and philosophy but also depth psychology, religious studies, the history of science, and literature and the arts. We will seek to understand the intricate connections between the moral aspirations of modernity --its strong valuation of self-responsible reason, individual autonomy, universal justice and equality, affirmation of ordinary life, and expressive freedom-- and modern reason’s instrumental objectification and disenchantment of the natural world. The course will conclude with a consideration of where we are today in this evolutionary journey, marked throughout by paradox, peril, and hope. This course is a sequel to The Evolution of Religious Consciousness from the preceding semester, though it can be taken independently. It is, however, an advanced participatory seminar and is open only to doctoral and master’s degree students who have taken either Brief History of Western Thought, Radical Mythospeculation, or Archetypal History of Western Thought and Culture; or with the permission of the instructor. PARP 6499 or PARP 6517 or PARP 6667 or PARP 6833

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