In this section, I shall focus on what it means to think analytically.  But this, I mean breaking down a topic and then reconstructing it to provide a new perspectives on something.  I am especially interested in statements that have this form:  “If I think this…., then this…..”
Our goal in reflecting on the topics below will be to consider the relationship between our conceptions of Hell and human behavior.  My basic proposition is that the way we define the world will have important implications for how we should act.
Consider these issues:
  • Does it matter whether there continue to be different conceptions of Hell in our society?
  • How is our conception of Hell related to our moral options?
22. Thursday, November 12.
Discussion:  Today, I want to discuss two interrelated questions:  1) What is the human condition? and 2) what should society do–or not do–to ensure to ensure moral behavior?
To facilitate this discussion, I am asking you to read two of the most vivid chapters from Fyodr Dostoevsky’s The Brother’s Karamazov.  As you read the chapters, ask yourself:  what is Ivan Karamazov’s “argument” about the human condition?  What do you make of his recommendations as expressed through the Grand Inquisitor?
  • An excerpt from Fyodr Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov Ivan Karamazov’s sobering thoughts on “Rebellion”: 236-263 (HAND-OUT)
Note:  No self-respecting Notre Dame student should graduate without reading The Brothers Karamazov in its entirety. The book will change the way you look at life.
23.  Tuesday, November 17
A classic psychological experiment with implications for the assessment of human nature.  Would Ivan Karamazov and the Grand Inquisitor be pleased?
Film and Discussion: Stanley Milgram, “Obedience”
 24.  Thursday, November 19
Discussion:  In this section, I want to explore the connection between our understanding of hell and moral behavior.  I am interested in addressing two questions:  1) Can we be good without Hell (i.e.,  Do we need to believe in Hell to maintain a civilized society?)?  2) Or will belief in Hell lead us to worse behavior?
In preparation for this discussion, please think about this question:   On what basis does humanity learn to do the “right  thing”?
  • Bishop John Henry Spong, “Hell is an invention of the church”  WATCH AND TAKE NOTES
  • On religion in general:  Richard Dawkins, “Religion’s real child abuse” (handout)
  • Our Values Survey: An assessment of your findings about your personal beliefs
Your second writing assignment is HERE


25.  Tuesday, November 24
Fr. Jenkins will join us for a discussion of some tough philosophical questions about life.   I will distribute your questions to him beforehand.


THANKSGIVING BREAK:  No Class (November 26 – November 30)
26.  Tuesday, December 1
Music from Hell:  It’s no surprise that there is a direct relationship between what musicians (and other artists) have to say about Hell and how they expect people to act.  How  many songs in the following genres invoke the concept of Hell?:  Metal, punk, heavy rock, existential rock, grunge, rap, the blues.  Comparatively speaking, how many invoke  the concept  of heaven?

NOTE: Please leave your technology at home. This includes electronic devices of any kind, such as laptops, i-Pads, cell phones, Kindles, x-Boxes, clouds, video cameras, or other personal digital devices.