Soul Beliefs: Causes and Consequences

开始时间: 待定 持续时间: Unknown

所在平台: Coursera

课程类别: 人文

大学或机构: Rutgers University(罗格斯大学)

授课老师: Daniel M. Ogilvie Leonard W. Hamilton



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Throughout history, the vast majority of people around the globe have believed they have, however defined, a “soul.” While the question of whether the soul exists cannot be answered by science, what we can study are the causes and consequences of various beliefs about the soul and its prospects of surviving the death of the body. Why are soul and afterlife beliefs so common in human history? Are there adaptive advantages to assuming souls exist?  Are there brain structures that have been shaped by environmental pressures that provide the foundation of body/mind dualism that is such a prominent feature of many religions? How do these beliefs shape the worldviews of different cultures and our collective lives? What is the role of competing afterlife beliefs in religion, science, politics, and war? This course explores several facets of this relatively unexplored but profoundly important aspect of human thought and behavior.


Unit 1:  Historical Foundations of Science, Religion, and Worldviews

1.      Introduction to the Course (Profs. Ogilvie & Hamilton)

2.      What I was Told to Believe (Prof. Ogilvie & students)

3.      Historical Foundations of Soul Beliefs – Part I (Prof. Ogilvie)

4.      Historical Foundations of Soul Beliefs – Part II (Prof. Ogilvie)

5.      Historical Foundations of Soul Beliefs – Part III (Profs. Ogilvie & Shors)

6.      Functions of Religion in Ancient & Modern Times (Prof. Ogilvie)

7.      Religions Under Attack (Prof. Ogilvie)

8.      Big Ideas & Big Controversies (Prof. Hamilton)

9.      Darwin’s Dangerous Idea (Prof. Hamilton)

10.  The Mind-Body Problem (Prof. Hamilton)

Unit 2:  Belief Systems as a Part of Our Lives

1.      Thinking and Feeling (Prof. Ogilvie)

2.      Terror Management (Prof. Solomon)

3.      Internalized Beliefs I (Prof. Ogilvie)

4.      Internalized Beliefs II: The Evolution of Senses of Self in Childhood (Prof. Ogilvie)

5.      After-Life, Out of Body, and Disembodied:  What’s the evidence? I (Prof. Musolino)

6.      After-Life, Out of Body, and Disembodied:  What’s the evidence? II (Prof. Musolino)

7.      The Brain and Our Emotional Future (Prof. Hamilton)

8.      The Biology of Thou Shalt Not (Prof. Hamilton)

9.      Free Will vs. Lawful Behavior (Prof. Hamilton)

10.   Evolutionary Psychology (Dr. Grysman)

11.    The Undesired Self (Prof. Ogilvie)

Unit 3: How Does It All End?

1.      The Evolution of the Human Brain (Prof. Hamilton)

2.      The Human Spark (Prof. Hamilton)

3.      The Scopes Trial:  Human Origins and the Public Classroom (Prof. Hamilton)

4.      The Dover Board of Education:  Intelligent Design and the Public Classroom (Video)

5.      Where Do We Go From Here? (Profs. Ogilvie & Hamilton)





Exploration of the causes and consequences of various beliefs about the soul. Topics such as the self, mind/body dualism, evolution, culture, death anxiety, afterlife, and religious and political conflict.


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