Lectures

8.3328 Study Project: Cognition, Reason, Culture (Part II)

Meyer

Type Language Semester Credits Hours Room Time Term Year
Pr e 12 6 W 2017
MSc: Study project

Syllabus:

Against the background of different cultures, religions, political positions etc. people come to different conclusions about what we should think and how we should live. As long as people with these different backgrounds do not really get in touch with each other, one may be tempted to interpret the situation in relativistic terms: That women have the same rights as men may be true relative to one culture and false relative to another. However, apart from serious theoretical problems, this position seems of not much use when there is some contact between different groups and when they need to get along with each other. In the process of globalization, this challenge becomes more and more pressing.
In this study project, we want to look at this problem from different perspectives. Possible topics are: Is there a comprehensible concept of "universal reason" one could refer to? What could moral relativism mean? What would be a reasonable concept of tolerance? Also, it would be possible to do case studies from a philosophical standpoint: For instance, one may compare western and eastern thinking with respect to a specific topic, or analyze different ways of argumentation in different religions.
Participants should be willing to focus on one specific question in this field. The first task would be to find relevant literature and an interesting ongoing debate. In regular meetings, the participants should report about their progress and possible problems. In the second step, the individual participants or perhaps small groups should write papers that will be discussed by the other members and thereby improved. Finally, the papers will be presented in a symposium open for other students or interested people from the institute. Participants should be willing to work independently as well as in the group context.

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