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Philosophy and Religion

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Aristotle On The Happy Life

Aristotle’s Nikomachaen Ethics is a book on how to prosper in life. Bearing in mind that all of us live in communities and states, we cannot prosper alone. What I do affects others; and what others do affects me. Accordingly ethics is an issue for everyone. But although Artistotle’s work is a philosophical treatise, it is written in an easy style for every intelligent reader to understand; and it is designed to be of practical use. On account of its success with these purposes, it... [More]

Religion and Politics Around the World

Agitation for guarantees of religious freedom, perhaps within an Australian Bill of Rights, have encouraged debates about the ideal relations between religion and politics at the personal level, between church and state at the institutional level. How far should governments be able to regulate religious activity? How far should religious principles be able to influence political decision-making? Political and social theorists like Weber, Strauss and Habermas have deliberated on the... [More]

What Is This Thing Called 'Mind'?

Are you mystified about how we humans evolved into thinking creatures? How we perceive, experence, remember, think, invest and imagine? Do you ever wonder how such an intelligent creature as "Homo Sapiens" could make such a mess of the world? Then this course is for you. It explains in simple language the evolution and architecture of the mind and puts our fundamental problem - the conflict between our instincts and intelligence into the spotlight. Based on the author's recently... [More]

The Wisdom of the East: Religion and Philosophy of China and Japan

Western Society has this century turned more and more to the East for solutions to problems both philosophical and practical, because of a perceived failure of traditional western beliefs. This course looks at Taoism, Confucianism, Shinto, and both the Chinese and Japanese varieties of Buddhism; and attempts to answer questions such as ‘Are all religions essentially the same?’ and ‘Are Eastern and Western views really so different?’. This is a Discussion Group course, if you aren’t... [More]

Oh My God – Part I: Exploring the Concept of Deity

Some religions, chiefly the monotheisms (for example, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Zoroastrianism) claim to be uniquely true. Other religions are polytheistic, acknowledging that there are many gods, and that these gods belong specifically to a particular people (and not all peoples). This course explores the concepts of the divine proposed by a variety of different religions, and asks what significance there is in the variety and creativity of the answers proposed to the... [More]

Jerusalem And The End Of Days

This course explores the symbolic and mythological significance of Jerusalem to the three Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It covers in brief the tortuous history of the conflict between the Children of Abraham over the Holy City and its territory; a conflict which is a potent mix of nationalism and religious fervour which continues to impede all efforts at a peaceful resolution. This is a Discussion Group course, if you aren’t already part of a group please... [More]

Oh My God – Part II: Exploring How Humans are Religious

Religious people express their conviction in the existence of God or the gods in a variety of ways. Some religions ban art and insist that God cannot be depicted (like Judaism and Islam), whereas others produce beautiful and diverse depictions of their divinity (Hinduism and the Roman Catholic and Orthodox varieties of Christianity). Some religions are insistent that salvation depends on orthodoxy (believing the right things) and others that salvation is a matter of orthopraxy... [More]

The Five Pillars of Islam

Islam is a major world religion. Mosques and minarets are distinctive landmarks in most capital cities of the world. This course is an introduction to the religion and cultures of Islam. It covers the basic tenets as well as raising controversial questions, such as the role of women in Islam and the Moslem engagement with the West. This is a Discussion Group course, if you aren’t already part of a group please see ‘Getting Started’ below.   Independent Study Discussion Courses are... [More]

The Religions of India

More than any other country, India has been the birthplace of great religions. Hinduism, Buddhism, and the lesser known Jainism and Sikhism all originated there. This course traces the origins and history of these astonishing burgeoning of religious thought in the Indian sub-continent, and looks particularly at older forms like Zoroastrianism and the Vedic and Parsi religions. As well, the course attempts to explain the differences between Western and Eastern philosophic... [More]

Socrates – A Philosopher’s Life and Thoughts

Socrates was one of the most important figures in history. He took philosophy to the streets and sought to educate the Athenians in humanism. His persistent message was that an "unexamined life" is not worthy living. With this message he influenced the ethics of Plato and Aristotle, Romans and Christianity. We will examine the question of "Who was the real Socrates"? He was the man who showed us the path to individual development as the foundation of a healthy society. This is a... [More]