Religious Studies | Religion and Personality
R365 | 3596 | Miller

R365 Religion and Personality: Augustine, Kierkegaard, and Freud (3 Cr.)
TR 11:15-12:30 BH 006 (Miller)

This course is about the relationship between religion, psychology, and
the moral life.  We will focus on ultimate loves, fears, hatreds, and
regrets; our sense of responsibility to ourselves and others; our
(anxious) awareness that we are limited in body and time; our different
levels of memory and forgetfulness; and our attempt to craft a narrative
of self-understanding.  Some focal questions include: Is religion a source
of psychic health, or an obstacle to it?  What sorts of problems is
religion meant to cure?  What problems do religious beliefs create?  How
does religion bear upon the self's loves, its past, its mortality, its
doubts?  Along the way we'll ask whether it is really possible to want to
do evil, whether it is possible to love or grieve too much, what is meant
by purity of heart, and whether we ought to love the dead.  We'll look
concretely at relationships with mothers and fathers, the emergence of
mega-churches, wearing authentic NBA apparel, and visiting gravesites.

We will study such questions and cases through the works of Augustine,
Kierkegaard, and Freud.  These authors examined how the self can be a
problem to itself.  They were strong poets of introspection, and they
turned to religion to provide either a cure for or an explanation of the
self's internal woes.  In part they believed that the path to truth was
taken through self- examination.  What we discover as they take us along
that path will be a central topic of this course.  These authors also
understood their ideas as having broader implications for cultural and
social criticism.  Their brilliant efforts to study the self's longings,
pathologies, cultural influences, and religious practices will be the
focus of our readings and discussions.  The course will be structured
around lecture and discussion.  Requirements include regular
participation, three papers, and a final exam.