RCHUMS 275 - The Western Mind in Revolution: Six Interpretations of the Human Condition
Section: 001
Term: WN 2010
Subject: RC Humanities (RCHUMS)
Department: LSA Residential College
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

This course will treat six major reinterpretations of the human condition from the 16th to the 20th centuries generated by intellectual revolutions in astronomy (Copernicus: the heliocentric theory) theology (Luther: the Reformation), biology (Darwin: evolution of the species), sociology (Marx: Communism), psychology (Freud: psychoanalysis), and physics (Einstein: the theory of relativity). All six reinterpretations initiated a profound revaluation of Western man’s concept of the self as well as a reassessment of the nature and function of his/her political and social institutions. Since each of these revolutions arose in direct opposition to some of the most central and firmly accepted doctrines of their respective ages, we will study:

  1. how each thinker perceived the particular “truth” he sought to communicate;
  2. the problems entailed in expressing and communicating these truths; and
  3. the traumatic nature of the psychological upheaval caused by these cataclysmic transitions from the past to the future—both on the personal and cultural level.

If the function of humanistic education is to enable the individual to see where he/she stands in today’s maelstrom of conflicting intellectual and cultural currents, it is first necessary to see where others have stood and what positions were abandoned. The emphasis of this course will not be upon truths finally revealed or upon problems forever abandoned, but rather upon certain quite definite perspectives that, arising out of specific historical contexts, at once solved a few often technical problems within a specialized discipline while unexpectedly creating many new ones for Western culture as a whole. Texts: Copernicus, On the Revolution of the Heavenly Bodies (1543); Luther, Appeal to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation (1520), Of the Liberty of a Christian Man (1520); Darwin, The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859); Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts (1844), Das Kapital (1867, 1885, 1894); F reud, The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905); and Einstein, Relativity, the Special and the General Theory: A Popular Exposition (1921).

RCHUMS 275 - The Western Mind in Revolution: Six Interpretations of the Human Condition
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM
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