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Scope of Subject

the Greeks began the discussion and debate. Questions about meaning have been a central concern of philosophy for centuries. And they have been a concern of almost all of the social sciences from before psychology, anthropology and sociology were recognized as separate areas of study. As I view the landscape of relevant literature, at least the following fields provide material that bear upon questions of meaning:

  • Philosophy – Clearly, philosophers have been debating and discussing “meaning” for centuries. There is no sign that this interest has abated over the centuries.
  • Psychology – The behavioral psychologists don't generally discuss “meaning”, but the social psychologist have spent considerable time on the subject.
  • Psychotherapy – Psychotherapists need a practical model for what makes us tick, and “meaning” is often seen as an important motivating concern.
  • Brain Science – Some very interesting and suggestive things have been learned about how we think and what might be meaningful.
  • Sociology – The study of cultural sociology often has a fair about to say about “meaning” and its role in understanding individuals and their communities.
  • Anthropology – The focus of social and cultural anthropology has much to say about “meaning” and its role.
  • Geography – I find “place” relates importantly to “meaning” - people find meaning in places important to them. Geographers study places.
  • Architecture – Many of our more thoughtful architects have through about and written on how architectural places can take on meaning.
  • Political Science - “Meaning”, for me, connects to community. And the political scientists are concerned about how communities are organized and directed.

There are some important limits that are being placed on this list of areas of study. The focus is strongly on western traditions of scholarship. Eastern scholarship also addresses questions about meaning, but dipping into that field would be beyond the planned scope of this class. And there are a number of religions that offer revealed answers to questions about meaning. Again, such material will be deemed to be outside the scope of this class.

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May 6 – June 10 (6 sessions) Time: Wednesdays, 10:10 a.m. – 11:55 a.m. Location