English 84

Sophomore Seminar: Know Thyself

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Fall 2012 Coolidge, John S.
M 2-4 201 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

No books required.


This simple, two-word admonition ("Know Thyself") 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 exemplifying the remarkable variety of ways in which the oracle has been interpreted, and some of the key concepts and controversies associated with it, concluding with Socrates’ bemusing declaration that “The unexamined life is not livable for a human being.” The course is intended to appeal especially to students desirous of getting in on the intellectual conversation of our time and curious as to its cultural antecedents. As part of the Connections@Cal initiative it calls for on-line discussion during the week preparatory to student-led discussion in class, as will be explained more fully in the first meeting.

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

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