This course will reflect on the nature of the social world in a way that is integrally linked with Christian faith. Challenging the view that individuals are fully independent realities, we will look at the different kinds of communities that define us: family, political society, religious community, and groups formed around other kinds of shared identities. We will look at the way in which we emerge as individuals only through these primary identifications, and at the conflicted way in whcih our individuality is an attempt to understand and even overcome them. We will also explore the tensions that arise between these various communities and the claims they make on us. The course includes readings from diverse philosophical, religious, literary, and social-scientific texts. It aims to develop an existentially and philosophically rich Christian sensitivity to the complexity of social relationships that shape us and make claims on us.
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