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College of Saint Benedict (St. Joseph, MN 56374-2099)
Emily Esch (Project Director: September 2010 to April 2015)
NEH Enduring Questions Course on Human Nature and Our Place in the Universe

The development of an upper-level undergraduate course on the question, What am I?

What am I? This question will be explored through the study of three periods marked by a change in scientific paradigms: the scientific revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth century, the publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species in the nineteenth century, and the rise of cognitive science in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. By the end of the course, the students should have a basic understanding of different metaphysical views of human nature – from the claim that humans are fundamentally autonomous and independent to the view that human nature derives from the unique social bonds that we form. We will have studied various accounts of the relationship between the mind and body, especially dualism and materialism, and how these theories are shaped by various philosophical and scientific commitments. Students will learn to recognize in past debates a reflection of contemporary struggles over human nature and our place in the natural world.

Project fields:
Philosophy, General

Enduring Questions: Pilot Course Grants

Education Programs

$23,637 (approved)
$22,734 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2012 – 12/31/2014