God, Mind and Cosmos
Discourse on Western religion is dominated by the dichotomy between theism and atheism. In this course we will explore non-standard conceptions of the divine, with a particular focus on pantheism and panentheism. In the first half of the course we will read a book manuscript I have been working on, in which I explain the philosophical problem of consciousness, defend a panpsychist solution to the problem (after rejecting more conventional solutions), and then develop the view into a form of pantheism. The book is aimed at a general audience with no philosophical background and so is highly accessible. In the second half of the course we will explore a variety of alternative conceptions of the divine, both historical and contemporary.
By the end of the course, students will gain:
- an understanding of the problem of consciousness and the various conceptions of God considered in the course
- the ability to deploy the philosophical techniques and argumentative strategies that can be used to discuss those problems
- the ability to explain the strengths and weaknesses of different positions on the mind and the nature of God
- the transferable skill of formulating and evaluating arguments for and against various philosophical positions, both orally and in writing
For students taking the class for credit there will be an essay assignment of 2,000 words due at the end of the semester. Students are to formulate their own essay questions based on anything relevant to the topics covered in the module.
Though the class grade is based on the final paper, all course requirements must be completed in a satisfactory manner in order to earn a grade for the class. Should the final essay receive a borderline mark, the student’s overall mark will be adjusted in light of the student’s in-class performance and participation.