Roots of Western Culture

This course serves as an introduction to the central ideas that shape Western culture. It is based on the belief that 
cross cultural communication requires not only linguistic competence but also a familiarity with the underlying texts and thinkers that have shaped Western thought and culture. All the topics discussed are absolutely fundamental to how Westerners tend to view both themselves and others.

This an advanced level course in oral English. Each topic will be approached through a critical debate and focus on short passages (1 or 2 paragraphs each) drawn from key texts. The course is designed to increase vocabulary, develop reading comprehension skills, and provide students with the opportunity to practice their speaking and listening skills.

Each topic will take 4 hours (2 sessions of 2 hours each).

Topic Breakdown

1. The Old Testament: Monotheism and the narrative of history

2. Plato: The image of the cave and the philosopher king

3. The New Testament: The life of Jesus and the idea of apocalypse

4. Thomas Aquinas: The synthesis of faith and reason

5. Martin Luther & John Calvin: Protestantism

6. Renee Descartes: Rationalism & the mind-body problem

7. Thomas Hobbes: The state of nature and the social contract

8. John Locke: The state of nature and the social contract

9. Jean Jacques Rousseau: The state of nature and the social contract

10. Edmund Burke: Progressive conservatism

11. Adam Smith: Capitalism

12. Karl Marx: Communism

13. John Stuart Mill: Individual liberty

14. Friedrich Hayek: Individualism versus socialism

15. Sigmund Freud: Irrationality and the unconscious 

16 .Simone de Beauvoir: Feminism