Psychology Philosophy and Religion Essay Assignment Paper

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Psychology Philosophy and Religion Essay Assignment Paper

Using the lectures, readings, and discussions you found the most interesting and useful, select and discuss three of the following interrelated issues, separately.  Be sure to select one issue from each of the three subject areas.  A final section of the paper, of at least one page (at least 300 words), should be devoted to exploring the connections between the three issues you have chosen, thus dividing the paper into four discrete parts. No special “paper” format is required; for the first three sections, it is best to just state and then answer the questions/prompts, as if the paper were an examination. Each answer must discuss at least one (different) course reading substantially.  If appropriate to a given question, your argument may be strengthened by including commentary on a second course reading.  Although the reading discussions are primary, you are also encouraged to enrich your discussions by including lecture, video, or other relevant material from lecture.  It is essential, though, to offer personal insight and creativity beyond what was discussed in class. Papers should be at least 3000 words in length (please indicate the word-count on your paper), and 2-sided printing is recommended.  Late papers will be penalized ½ letter grade point per day late, and must be emailed to your section leader.  Note to ESL (English as a Second Language) students:  Papers must be submitted in college-level standard English; if your ESL skills are not yet at this level, you will need to get help with editing and proofreading.


What exactly is the meaning of “whole-being wisdom?”  What are its components? How can it be cultivated and used with maximum effectiveness?

Can emotions be “intelligent”?  What is the difference between: 1) strong emotional participation/complementarity in decision-making and 2) emotional flooding?  What value do emotions provide in leading an ethical life?

What main features of our microphase evolutionary inheritance challenge our development and expression of macrophase wisdom?  What are the qualities of macrophase wisdom?  How can we foster its development?  What new behaviors would represent its expression?

What is the “shadow”?  If it is unconscious, how can we discover and know it? What is shadow “projection”? How can we effectively integrate shadow material into our decisions and action? How can we achieve greater ethical expertise by recognizing and integrating shadow material?

What, according to Almaas, are “holes”?  Are they a real deficiency?  What can we do about them?  What is the difference between the “emotions” and the “qualities of essence”?



According to Williamson, what does our individual “retardation” or “development” have to do with the world-at-large?  What is the “spiritual” meaning of every situation?  What, for her, is the single most important factor in the “salvation” of the world?  What, if anything, does it have to do with centering and meditation?

Is it possible to live an effective, satisfying, and ethical human life using only consequentialism / utilitarianism as an action guide?  Is the use of any means justified by some ends?  Are some pleasures qualitatively better than others?  How should one handle minority rights?

Is it possible to live an effective, satisfying, and ethical human life using only deontology as an action guide?  Does the purity of “right intention” justify any and all consequences?  What are the two main tenets of Kant’s Categorical Imperative?

How does “Virtue Ethics” differ from Consequentialism and Deontology?  Why is it not just pure “moral relativism” and unbridled subjectivity?  What is necessary for the individual to make it an effective ethical guide?

Is a consistent ethical/moral philosophy necessary to an effective, satisfying, and ethical human life?  Or, can there be no useful forethought, and the best action is only discernable on its own unique terms, on a case-by-case basis, at the time?  Some mixture of the two?  How does the Dalai Lama’s guide for ethical action relate to Aristotle’s?

Can a specific and absolute rule-based ethical system be an effective guide to human ethical behavior?  What should happen when a situation that arises was not contemplated by the rules?  Does an expanding / evolving Universe complicate or even invalidate this approach?

Consider the following concepts:  Kantian “good-will,” Buddhist “kun long,” and Aristotelian “eudaimonia.”  What qualities do they share?  How do they differ?  Do they vary in “completeness” as an ethical approach?

In “Life Wars,” Richard Holloway argues that there is no ethical algorithm that we can apply to

make ethical decisions for us, but rather that we must be guided by the fundamental principles that                       characterize us as human.  What are they?  Can we substantially agree on them?  Can following them work?

In “Three Malaises,” Charles Taylor argues that the rise of individualism and the primacy of instrumental reasoning are actually undermining the experience of life and political participation.  What does he mean?  Is he correct?  If so, what can we do?

In the “Introduction,” Erich Fromm suggests that the “great promise” has failed.  What was the promise, has it failed, and, if so, why? What’s the solution?

Pick an aspect of your life that has critical importance to you.  Explore your current relationship to it in terms of the “having” and “being” modes developed by Fromm.

Is “happiness” the truest goal of a human life?  What is human happiness?  What are its elements? How is it measured?  Is it a state or an action? Is it dependent on effort? On good fortune? Can we “achieve” happiness directly, or is it the continuing “result” of a life properly lived?  What is its relationship to Aristotle’s concept of eudaimonia?  To the notion of euthymia?  To understanding our unconscious drives?

According to Aristotle, what is the purpose/function of a human being?  Is the potential for excellence inborn? Is virtue thus “natural” to us? In Aristotle’s view, how is virtue inculcated in a human being?  What are the factors responsible for the positive development of our character and disposition? How does a person develop excellence along lines of virtue? How does a person embody this excellence?

Did Socrates live a eudaimon life?  Does his being executed by the State change anything?  Where did Socrates find “guidance” in his life?  Can his ethical inquiry be characterized as primarily inspired by consequentialism, deontology, or virtue ethics?

What does Sartre mean by saying that “existence precedes essence?”  What does he mean that: “in choosing for himself, he chooses for all men”?  What does he mean by “action without hope”? What are the roles of freedom and responsibility in existentialism?



What, exactly, is the difference between “religion” as we have used the term during the course and “spirituality”?  Can one be religious and not really spiritual?  Spiritual and not really religious?  What is the difference between an essentially religious quest (to connect human consciousness to the “source” of consciousness) and the pursuit of “pure” (non-application-based) science?  Do they address the same question(s)?

What, at their core, do all religions seek to provide?  How effective are they at it?  For religion to be effective as an ethical guide, what is required of the religious practitioner?  What is forbidden?

Can a religion based upon a cosmology that is 2000 – 6000 years old still provide relevant ethical guidance today?  Is cosmology significant in religion?  Must new cosmological understanding be incorporated to maintain relevance?  Can modern cosmological understanding be squared with literal scriptural interpretation that contradicts it?  Must religion accommodate social developments, e.g. changes in the acceptable roles/positions of women?  How can these accommodations be made?

Does a person have to be “religious” in order to be ethical?  Is religiosity an indicator of ethical integrity?  Does religious practice foster or retard ethical consciousness and behavior?  How do free will and religious practice interact?

If a person is merely conforming to norms of acceptable behavior primarily out of fear of punishment during life (law) or in the “hereafter” (religion), is that person acting ethically?  How is free will involved?  What are the benefits and detriments of a coercion-based system?

What does Campbell mean when he argues that all religions are true metaphorically, yet none are true concretely? Why do some religious adherents insist on the literal truth of their chosen scripture rather than considering its metaphorical significance?  Confronted with an evolving universe, how might they suggest that this literal interpretation could work?

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