Religious Studies | Religion and Personality: Religion and the Self in Augustine, Kierkegaard, and Freud
R365 | 25606 | R. Miller


The above course carries COLL A & H distribution.

This course is about religion, psychology, and the moral life.  It
focuses on the quality of our loves, fears, hatreds, and regrets;
our sense of responsibility to ourselves and others; our (anxious)
awareness that we are limited in body and time; and our attempt to
craft a narrative of self-understanding.  With these topics in mind,
we will examine questions of self-knowledge, religious experience,
and the moral quality of the emotions.

We will ask, 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 on the
self's loves, its past, its mortality, its doubts?  We will also
look at concrete actions, cultural practices, and religious
institutions.  Along the way we'll ask whether it is 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.  To focus our discussions, we'll look at relationships with
mothers and fathers, the emergence of mega-churches in the USA,
eating ethnic fast food, and wearing “authentic NBA apparel.”

We will study these questions and cases through the works of
Augustine, Søren Kierkegaard, and Sigmund Freud.  These authors
examined how the self can be a problem to itself.  They were strong
poets of self-analysis who turned to religion to provide either a
cure for or an explanation of the self's internal woes.  Equally
important, they believed that the path to truth was taken through
self-examination.  What we find as they take us along that path will
be a central topic of this course.  These authors also saw 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. Meets with R581