CC 300 DX: History and Systems of Psychology

3 Credits – Cross-listed with PSY 360 X
MWF 3:30-4:45 pm – Professor Nelson

Who are we?  What does it mean to be a human person?  Many Classical thinkers and modern psychologists have asked these questions.  In this seminar we will look at some of the main answers found in the Western tradition, and consider outstanding current and historical writers who have sought to answer the question, who are we?  Some writers consider us to be blank slates, victims of fate or products of our culture and environment, while in a partial revolt against this, others see us as spiritual or religious beings with free will and able to find meaning in a relationship with the transcendent or sacred.  Traditional authors typically see us as relational beings who find our selfhood in community while others build a model of isolated individualism.  Many writers see us as minds, rational beings who process information and make judgments, in contrast to those who view us as material bodies essentially constituted by our physical nature.  More recently, many scientists and philosophers view us as machines made up of parts that work according to natural, lawlike principles.  In the class we will read prominent Classical or early modern writers as well as recent psychologists who represent each of these perspectives, and then thoroughly analyze and critique these authors and their points of view.  At the end of the seminar, each student will be invited to develop and present a paper on their own answer to the question, who are we?

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