Academics

BLS 300: Self, Society, and Salvation

This course serves as an introduction to an enormous variety of ideas regarding the self, society, the state, and the Sacred. In simple terms, it is a survey of some important questions and answers. It is based on the premise that the history of ideas is largely the history of prescriptions for “salvation,” that is, to use the Webster’s definition, “preservation from destruction, disintegrating failure or other evil” or “final deliverance from dangers, difficulties, deficiencies or the like.”

To put it another way: many important ideas originated as proposed solutions to perceived problems. These “problems” are the basic human concerns, shared by people everywhere, and may be grouped under four headings:

  • How to achieve individual well-being
  • How to organize a society
  • How to exercise authority
  • How to find and connect with transcendent reality

If these are different kinds of problems, then we may think of proposed solutions as different kinds of “salvation” — individual, social, political, and religious. The course is consequently divided into these four topic areas, each representing what might be called a different form of “salvation” or “fix”:

  • Fixing the Self
  • Fixing Society
  • Fixing the State
  • Fixing the Cosmos.

Textbooks

  • Booth, Wayne, et al. The Craft of Research, 3rd ed. U of Chicago, 2008. ISBN 0226065669
  • MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed. Modern Language Association of America, 2009. ISBN 9781603290241