Saturday, 27 July 2013

So What Is the Individual?

Hi All,

After reading and listening to what others have said about the individual - and after writing about various perspectives on the individual yourself - I would like to invite you to rethink our original questions.

These original questions were:

1. Who am I?
2. What do I want to do with my life to make it meaningful?
3. How can I use my specific skills, talents, preferences, and character traits to help others and to make a positive difference in the world?

Perhaps the following three visual "maps" will help you get started:

Or try thinking about the topic by finishing the following sentences to create true (and truthful) sentences:

The world is ...
-> please write at least 3 sentences that you think are true about the world                                       

Like everybody in my circle of friends/ community, I am ...                  
 -> please name 3 characteristics that you share with many of your friends and/or with the majority of the people in your community

Unlike everybody else in my circle of friends/community, I am              
-> please name 3 characteristics that you don't share with the majority of your friends or with the majority of other members of your community

My greatest strengths are    
-> please list 3 or more                          

My greatest weaknesses are                        
-> please name at least 3

When I was 5 I was/ could …

When I was 8 I was/ could …

When I was 10 I was/ could …

When I was 12 I was/ could …

When I was 15 I was/ could …

Now I am/can  …

In 5 years I will be (able to)  …

In 10 years I will  be (able to) …

I really love the following  [gifts/ qualities/ people/ animals/ activities/ opportunities/ etc]                                                              
-> name as many as you like but at least 10

I am grateful in particular for the following 5 (or more) gifts:             
I would like to learn in particular the following 5 skills:                        

What is it that has changed in my life?

What in my life has remained the same?

What is it that makes me me?

Who am I – and who have I always been and will always be?

Enjoy exploring yourself - and then using your insights to find your special path!

Thanks for a wonderful term!


Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Perspectives on the Self from around the World, Part 1

Hi All,

In preparation for our FDU Multicultural Day on June 28th, I would like to invite you to share interesting and important views of the individual from a culture of your choice. Anything is fine: poems, stories, plays, articles, art, music, dance, religion, mythology, psychology, sociology, political science, biology, history, philosophy, etc.

Please post relevant links as well as a brief intro to your chosen text or talk or art work or performance or clip or etc and a brief statement of why you like it.

Thank you!


Sunday, 26 May 2013

Religious, Non-Religious, and Spiritual Perspectives on the Individual

Hi All,

Since our class discussion last week got us into the topic of religion, I thought I should give you the opportunity to share your reflections, observations, insights and ideas about this topic with the rest of us. After all, religion is a very personal topic and therefore deeply connected with the innermost core of the individual. However, since religion and spirituality are therefore also a very emotional topics for many people, I would like you to be open-minded and to treat people with different views with utmost politeness and respect :)

I think it is very important for all of us to learn about religious and spiritual belief systems that are different from our own in order to understand and appreciate the cultural diversity of this world. And better understanding what we commonly think of as "the other" is often a first step to realizing that "the other" is not as different from us as we originally assumed - and will therefore bring us closer to what we all want: World Peace.

Please feel free to share here aspects of any form of religion or spirituality that you find interesting. This is not restricted to the traditional religions but may include non-institutionalized religions (such as shamanism) as well as spirituality in a more general sense as well. Of course, the very opposite of religion, atheism, is part of the spectrum of possibilities as well - and should therefore NOT be excluded.

Please feel also free to include other meta-physical topics here - i.e. topics about anything that transcends the physical and that can therefore not be perceived by our 5 physical senses, such as near-death experiences, ESP, etc.

Religion, philosophy, and mythology (in its traditional sense of 'the science of sacred stories') - as well as, of course, anthropology, archeology, history, biology, chemistry, physics, literature, all forms of art, as well as language itself - are all very closely linked and contribute equally to helping us figure out who we are. I think it makes sense for us to learn as much as we can in all these areas (and in other areas as well) if we truly want to understand our innermost nature.

So if you have figured out something that makes sense to you, please tell us about it. It might also make sense to the rest of us. Feel also free, of course, to share links to texts and/or videos that you find interesting in this context.

I would like to start with a few clips that I found quite interesting:

1) Following our in-class discussions about the close connections of Judaism and Islam (and also Christianity, which developed out of Judaism), I would like to draw your attention to the following youtube clips about this topic:

2) Introduction to Religion in General:

Nature of Religion:

Chronological sequence & geographical location:

Function(s) of Religion:

Living in a World without God -> Existentialist Ethics:

The Future of Religions & Spirituality in Our Global World:

Thank you!


Thursday, 18 April 2013

Additional Perspectives on the Individual

Dear All,

Please write about anything else here that is relevant for our course topic!

I hope you have learned more about yourself - as well as about the world - by thinking about the individual from different perspectives.

Have a wonderful summer!


Creative Perspectives on the Individual - Part 3: Mirrors

Please look into a mirror. Don't just look at your outward you but try to see deeper. What can you see? Feel free to answer this question in either a personal or creative way.



Creative Perspectives on the Individual - Part 2: Masks

Find the image of a mask you find fascinating (e.g. by typing into google: "mask cultural images"). Look at it carefully and try to absorb all the details.

Option 1)

Try to get a sense/feel of the spirit that the mask embodies. Then imagine you are wearing the mask and you are becoming the personality of the mask. Tell us about your new you in any genre you wish (e.g. story, journal entry, email message, poem, dialogue, description etc).

Option 2)

Do some research about the mask: culture, meaning, symbolism, cultural and/or historical and/or social and/or religious and/or mythological background and tell us about it.

This, too, is meant to be fun! Enjoy to be someone else!


Creative Perspectives on the Individual - Part 1: Archetypes

Archetypes play a role in many myths and epics throughout the world. They are also used in contemporary poetry and fiction - as well as in movies.

Option 1)

Please look at the list of Archetypes that Caroline Myss put together:

Pick two or three archetypes from the list that you find particularly interesting. Think about them - and try to imagine they are real people.

Write a story or a poem - or anything else you wish - in which your chosen archetypes interact with each other and see what happens :)

Option 2)

Read the quotations from Carl Jung's work about archetypes and think about the topic of archetypes in connection with our course topic.

Feel free to do this in a creative way.

Option 3)

Read Northrop Frye's Essay "Archetypal Criticism - Theory of Myths" and discuss its relevance of the self.

Again, you are welcome to use a creative approach!

Option 4)

Find a poem or story or movie or other creative work (art, music, dance, etc) that is based on one (or more than one) particular archetype and tell us more about it!

This is meant to be fun! Please enjoy!