We will consider a variety of Jewish philosophical responses to fundamental problems and concerns including human nature, faiths/reasons controversies, theories of revelation, existential and feminist Jewish philosophies. Be willing to struggle with difficult philosophical texts and issues. Requirements include participation, attendance, successful completion of two exams and a final project to be agreed upon with the instructor.
Other Texts (Final projects may be based on any of the following)
ABOUT SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENTS:
Reading question(s) are given along with each assignment. Unless otherwise indicated, please answer the reading question(s) in less than one TYPED page (all assignments, except in class writings are to be typed). Make sure you are working with the current version of this syllabus.
ABOUT STUDENT PRESENTATIONS ON READINGS:
All students are expected to do all readings and to share their understanding with one another in class discussions and by leading their own and participating in other students' presentations on the various readings. Student presentations on readings begin the second week of class, and will be scheduled during the first week. The subtopics will be divided up into student groups whose size will be determined by the class size.
Remember: You have less than an hour to present. Focus on the aspects your group finds most interesting and important. Do not try to cover everything. Your presentation will be improved if you make it easier for others to participate. (Please try to help others' presentations by participating!) Please feel free to meet with me to discuss your presentations. If you don't find me on campus, feel free to call me at home (637-0349) before 8:00 PM. YOU CAN ALWAYS LEAVE A VOICE MAIL MESSAGE AT 445-4489.
In coordination with the Academic Support Center (ASC), reasonable accommodations are provided for qualified students with disabilities. Please register with Anne Herron in the ASC Office for disability verification and determination of reasonable accommodations. After receiving your accommodation form from the ASC, you will need to make an appointment with me to review the form and discuss your needs. Please make every attempt to meet with me within the first week of class so your accommodations can be provided in a timely manner. You can either stop by the ASC, Library, 1st floor, or call (445-4118-voice or 445-4104-TDD) to make an appointment with Ms. Herron.
TENTATIVE SCHEDULE ('*'
indicates dates on which students present)
Week #1 (of Sep. 2) Introduce course, choose groups and schedule presentations on readings, IN CLASS WRITING #1: Write a brief (less than 3 pages handwritten) essay describing your knowledge of and experience(s) with Judaism(s).
*Week #2 (of Sep. 7) Introduction of some biblical perspectives. Read the book of Genesis. On September 9, students present on issues suggested by the text. SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT #1( ALL SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENTS ARE DUE THE DATE OF THE RESPECTIVE STUDENT PRESENTATION ): What is God's relationship to people in the book of Genesis? How, at all, does it change throughout the book?
*Week #3 (of Sep. 14) Read the books of Exodus and Esther. SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT #2: What is the difference between the way the descendants of Abraham and Sarah deal with persecution in the two books? Sep. 16, students present on Esther.
*Week #4 (of Sep. 21) Read Ecclesiastes. SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT #3: What problem is bothering the author of Ecclesiastes? Sep. 21, students present on Ecclesiastes: Sep. 23, Instructor presents on views of the after-life in the development of Judaism..
Week #5 (of Sep. 21) Lecture on Philo. Read Saadia selections in Arthur Hyman and James J. Walsh (eds.), Philosophy in the Middle Ages: The Christian, Islamic, and Jewish Traditions, Second Edition, Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1983 [on reserve in the library) IN CLASS WRITING #2: In what ways, if any, are Saadia and Philo addressing the same problems?
*Week #6 (of Sep. 28) Read Guide., pp. 1-37. Read Strauss's introduction and title essay SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT #4: Who is Maimonides' audience? Sep. 28., Students present on Maimonides' life and work. Sep. 30. Lecture on secret writing and Strauss.
*Week #7 (of Oct. 5) Oct. 5: Read Guide., Pages 59-120; 212-250. Read Strauss, Chs. 2 & 3. Oct. 7: Read Guide, 307-397. Students present on Guide, pp. 307-397. SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT #5: According to Maimonides, How do the best persons conduct their lives?
Week #8 (of Oct. 14) Oct. 14: Read Maimonides on Evil and Providence (264-306). IN CLASS WRITING #3: What do you take to be Maimonides' central thesis about evil and providence? How does it square with your own views? PROJECT PROPOSALS DUE Thursday, OCT. 14.
*Week #9 (of Oct. 19) Wiesel on Evil and Responsibility. If you have not yet read Night, do so. Then read Dawn. SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT #6: What problem faces the protagonist in Dawn? How does this and related problems affect our lives today? Note: You are welcome to do this within one page if you can, but, for this assignment, the page limit is extended to 3 TYPED pages. Oct. 21: Students present on Dawn, group work on Dawn.
*Week 10: (of Oct. 26) Buber on responsibility. Oct. 26, Instructor presents on Buber's philosophy. Read Buber's "The Way of Man." Oct. 28, students present on Buber's "The Way of Man." SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT #7: What does this essay tell us about the meaning of the question "Where are you?"
*Week 11 (of Nov. 2) Wiesel and Schwarzschild on responsibility after the Holocaust. Read Wiesel's The Accident. Read Schwarzschild's Ch. 4, "On the Theology of Jewish Survival" (pp. 83-98, and pp. 278-284, and Ch 12, "Modern Jewish Philosophy" in Pursuit of the Ideal, pp. 229-233 [on reserve in library]). Read Samuelson, pp. 288-306 (on reserve). Nov. 4, Students present on The Accident. SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT #8: How does Wiesel and/or Schwarzschild think we should live in a post-holocaust world?
*Week 12: (of Nov. 9) Read Standing Again at Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective. SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT #9 (3 page maximum): What is the basic problem Plaskow addresses in this book? What can we learn from the response? Nov. 9 Students present on Standing Again at Sinai, first half. Nov. 11: Students present on Standing Again at Sinai, second half.
*Week 13 (of Nov. 16). Read The Jew in the Lotus. SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT #10 (3 page maximum): What is the basic problem faced by the Jews in this book? What is the basic problem faced by the Tibetans? Of all the people you "met" reading this book, which two did you like the best? Why? What did they offer? Nov. 18: Students present on The Jew in the Lotus.
*Week 13-15 (Nov 23, and Nov 30, Dec. 2, Dec 7, and Dec 9, the last day of class). Students report on their final projects These reports are to be between 10 and 15 minutes in length). These will continue until the end of semester. .