God, Meaning and Morality
Section 1 9:30-10:45 T, Th, Moody,101
Section 2 11:00-12:15 T, Th, Moody,109
Iain S. Maclean
(Please note that there is not a vocabulary list for every lecture)
(Entries may be deleted or added during the course)
Note the additional Vocabulary handout lists for the Tolkien LOR material.
NOTE Tokien Bassham LOR & Philosophy Vocabulary at the end of this list.
Vocabulary list # 1 Epistemology: Baergen, Plato, Aristotle
four modern theories of perception -direct realism, representative realism,
Plato-two world theory
Allegory of the Cave
theory of forms
knowledge versus opinion
the real or perfect versus the illusory or imperfect
Aristotle -one world
experience –habit (us)
Vocabulary list # 2 Epistemology: Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley,
Descartes, Rene (1596-1650)
three substances only
Spinoza, Baruch [Benedictus] (1632-1677)
monism (one substance only)
Leibniz, G.W.F. (1646-1716)
monads (many substances) -how held together or related?
Locke, John (1632-1704)
Essay Concerning Human Understanding
primary qualities vs secondary qualities
two forms of knowledge only -facts and relations between facts
Berkeley, George (1685-1753)
Principles of Human Knowledge
Hume, David (1711-1776)
An Inquiry (Essay) Concerning Human Understanding
relations of ideas and matters of fact
Hume on causation
the role of habit
Kant, Immanuel (1724-1804)
Critique of Pure Reason
a priori truths
Vocabulary list # 3 Truth
two kinds of truth (empirical and necessary)
rationalism vs empiricism
Kant's solution to empiricism of Hume
three theories of truth (correspondence, coherence and pragmatics theories)
rationality/ use of reason
objective versus subjective truth?
Vocabulary list # 4 The Concept of the Self
dualistic view of self
Aristotle's rejection of Plato
St. Augustine (354-430 AD)
creatio ex nihilo
God as final good or end
id, ego and super-ego
Vocabulary list # 5 The Self and the Question of Meaning
meaning of "meaning"
"Life is Absurd"
Views of life-listing of
a "View of Life"
The "Ethico-Religious View of Life"
"Living without Appeal"
Transcendentalism (three components of)
Vocabulary list # 6 The Self and Ultimate Reality:
"Father of Israel" (Abraham)
Six branches of Judaism (Orthodox, Kabbalah, Hasidim, Reform, Conservative and
JHWH or G-d
Torah / Law 613 Mitzvot
Maimonides on evil
Judaism on free will
Differing branches of Christian Church (Roman, Orthodox, Protestant,
Coptic/Armenian/Mar Thomas, Pentecostal)
Kingdom of God
doctrine of original sin
Christian theories of ethics (imitatio Christi, Love, Law)
Two Kingdom theory
Five Pillars of Islam
Groupings within Islam (Shi'ite, Sunni, Sufi)
Vocabulary list # 7: Self and Ultimate Reality:
Brahma is Atman
caste -four main castes
outcasts or pariahs
Hymn to Purusha in Rig-Veda (X.90)
being/reality as maya
Hindu pantheon (Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu)
Krishna, avatar of....
"all paths but lead to the one god"
"The Four Passing Sights"
The Deer Park Sermon
the Bo Tree
The Four Noble Truths
cessation of desire (nirodha) =nirvana
doctrine of "no soul" (anatta)
Vocabulary list # 8: Self and Human Freedom: Existence
Vocabulary list # 9: Self and Mysticism:
Steven Katz's thesis -cultural conditioning
Sallie B. King's counter thesis
many or one?
Katz's typology of three theses
role of culture as mediating factor
reduction of experience to doctrine
Vocabulary list # 10: Ethics: Self, Others, Beyond?
"Ring of Gyges" (told by Glaucon in Plato's dialogue "The Republic")
Justice as convention?
"consenting adult" thesis
distinction between selfishness and positive self-interest
Vocabulary list # 11: Ethics: Social -Golden Rule-Theories
Golden rule in world cultures (Christianity, Confucian, Judaism, Hellenism, OT,
the moral insight = potential future self
positive (McIver) vs the negative (Nagel) formulation
Vocabulary list # 12: Ethics: Social-Deontological Theories
(note differences between the deontological formulation and the Golden Rule
Deontological or non-consequentialist theory
Deontological based on rational principles (rationally will all to act, treat others as
ends, k of ends)
Deontological focuses of principles (not ends), logic, rational basis (i.e. not on
feelings or ends)
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)
kingdom of ends
subject versus object
distinction between "what is" and "what ought"
good will is good alone
"Encheiridion" of Epictetus
"Meditations" of Marcus Aurelius
critique of by Taylor (dichotomy duty vs "real " positive law)
Vocabulary list # 13: Ethics: Social: Utilitarian Theories
utilitarianism or consequentialist theory
John Stuart Mill (coins term "utilitarianism")
Principle of utility
difference between utility and earlier theories based on "pleasure-pain principle"
greatest good for the greatest number
intensity /duration/ certainty-uncertainty/ propinquity-remoteness/ plus fecundity
/purity AND EXTENT
B. Williams- Critique of Utilitarianism
Ursula K. Le Guin's critique, "Those Who Walk Away from Omelas"
effects on integrity and character
doctrine of "negative responsibility"
Vocabulary list # 14: Ethics: Virtue Theories
"Weapons of the Spirit"
telos and the good
virtues sustain "practices"
Vocabulary list # 15: Ethics: Moral Development Theories.
Vocabulary list # 16: Nature of Beauty: Art and Ethics
Defining the "beautiful?"
Classical view-due proportion/ numeric/mathematical/ objective/ends (purpose)
"Ascent of the Soul"
Origen on the "three stages of ascent of the soul (purgative, illuminative, unitive)
Augustine's understanding of beauty
Kant's views on beauty
ADDENDUM on LORD OF THE RINGS:
Chapter 1: Eric Katz’s “The Rings of Tolkien and Plato.”
The issue of “the moral life”
Plato The Republic
Glaucon “The Ring of Gyges”
The issue of power
The uses of the Ring
---Frodo and Sam
---Gollum (or Smeagol)
the role of choices in forming good or virtuous (or vicious) character
Chapter 2: Th. Schick’s, “The Cracks of Doom…”
Ring as symbol of emerging technologies
Use for human benefit or for destruction of humanity and of world?
Chapter 4: Bassham’s “Tolkien’s Six Keys to Happiness.”
-‘simple things’ theme from Epictetus –Thoreau (nature as model)
-make light of troubles
-importance of personal relationships
-thus role of character and character formation
-cultivation of the beautiful as meaningful
-rediscover wonder in life and world
Chapter 5: Gracia, “The Quests of Sam and Gollum for the Happy Life.”
Sam and Gollum-similarities and contrasts
Similar origins but now contrasted-individual vs social
Happiness? What does it comprise for Sam and for Gollum?
(task, duty, friendship, loyalty, vs possession, self, ring, unhappiness)
Chapter 7: Blount “Uberhobbits, Tolkien, Nietzsche and the Will to Power.”
Friedrich Nietzsche –“God is dead” –Will to Power
Ubermensch or “Superman” –power to impose one’s individual will
(again contrast with Hobbits)
Chapter 8: Davison “Tolkien and the Nature of Evil.”
LOR provides us with Tolkien’s views on evil
Not a Manichean view-dichotomy
Follows St. Augustine-“privation boni” or privation of good –parasitic
Thus evil lacks independent reality
Evil is corruption of the good
Humans tempted by self / pride / Self love is superbia
Chapter 9: Aeon Skoble, “Vice and Virtue in LOR.”
Aristotle –virtue and today. Developmental ethics
Virtues as powers to attain good life or “eudaimonia”
Virtues as means between two extremes
Discovery and emulation of good (virtuous) role models
See LOR characters of examples of…
Chapter 11: J. Kraus’s “Tolkien. Modernism and …..Tradition.”
Importance of Memory –leads to survival
Scholarship and tradition are power
Saruman represents modernism and despair
Modernism destroys traditions
See Denethor, steward of Gondor
Chapter 15: White “Sam and Frodo’s Excellent Adventure.”
Journey motif at origins of Western culture
Homer-Illiad and Odyssey
St..Augustine –internal journey as well –Confessions Descartes, ‘Cogito ergo sum’
Plato, “allegory of the Cave”-epistemological journey
Chapter 16: Davison, “Happy Endings and Religious Hope…”
Myth-definition-tells through by means of a story
Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (a fertility story)
Silmarillion -prologue to LOR
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