Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Journey Begins

“We are what we think, all that we are arises with our thoughts, with our thoughts we make the world.” This phrase attributed to the Buddha emphasis the idea that our systems of knowledge form our understanding of the world around us and in turn create the world that we live in. Action arises out of thought. Thus, the study of thought is a key component to understanding the how human beings have interacted with the world throughout history.

Today we live in an age where science and mathematics have fundamentally altered our understanding of the world and the individual’s place within it. In fact, science and mathematics are tools that allow humanity to manipulate the most basic components of matter and even alter the genetic code of any creature we choose. Clearly our thoughts are now creating the world around us in ways that could only be described as all-powerful. With all of this knowledge and power at our disposal, it is more important than ever to look into the past and study the belief systems that have been passed down generation upon generation. These systems of thought are guides that tell us about the place of humanity and are explorations of the most important questions that can be asked.

· What does it mean to be human?
· What are a human beings responsibilities to others and to the universe?
· How does the world work, what are the fundamental rules that governs its existence?
· What is the proper relationship between human beings and the environment?

All systems of thought have answers to these questions, and all the answers are equally important in that they try to address the issues that face each human community as its attempt to live, thrive and survive. Some of the answers to these questions are very old and have survived because of their strength and utility. They are some of the most important treasures of mankind.

There are two responsibilities that students have in this class:
1. All reading assignments are to be completed before the first class of the week. This will allow students to participate in the discussions in class. Students may be quizzed on the reading at anytime.
2. Reflection Papers are due on Monday by the end of the day. A copy of the reflection paper needs to be posted on Students are required to read the posts on this sight and should comment on their classmates work by Thursday morning. The grade that you earn on the reflection paper will not be posted on the web. However, some of my comments on your paper will be.
3. Students should come to class on time and prepared to learn. They need to come to class with the reading assignment, a notebook, their reflection paper, and a copy of their comments to other student work.


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