Religious Studies | Comparative Study of Religious Phenomena: Freedom and Bondage
D380 | 27818 | C. Cottine


Above course carries COLL A&H distribution credit
Previously REL-R307
Freedom is a term we use all the time. But it is also a concept that
is difficult to define. Is freedom something to which we have a
right? Or is it something that we construct? Do humans have a free
will? Is simply choosing to do something, “freely” consenting to a
life of servitude, sufficient for living a free life? And is a life
that is completely free even all that desirable? This course
examines these and other questions through readings, lectures, and
discussions. We will begin by exploring what some modern theorists
have said about freedom, free will, and determinism. Following this,
we will look at Western sources that wrestle with how to understand
freedom. Next we will turn our attention to some prominent early
Chinese and Buddhist thinkers who invite us to think comparatively
about conceptions of freedom and dependence. Finally, we will spend
the last two weeks looking at slavery in America and the Holocaust.
We will analyze how the various authors describe their situation and
how they understand freedom. This course is designed to not only
complicate our understanding of freedom, but also to enable us to
ask difficult questions about whether freedom is simply a state of
mind, or whether it requires something more. All readings will be in
English translation