English 84

Sophomore Seminar: Know Thyself

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Fall 2011 Coolidge, John S.
Coolidge, John
M 2-4 108 Wheeler

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This simple, two-word admonition carved over the entrance to the ancient temple at Delphi might be called the founding oracle of western humanism. The phrase itself is alive and well today, as a Google search will amply confirm, but what does it mean? We will read and discuss texts illustrating the remarkable variety of ways in which the oracle has been interpreted in the past, beginning with Socrates’ equally bemusing declaration that “The unexamined life is not livable for a human being,” or words to that effect. I envision a kind of ongoing “focus group” in which we try to ascertain which “takes” on the oracle resonate with us today and why.

This 2-unit course may not be counted as one of the twelve courses required to complete the English major.

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