Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Philosophy Study Abroad

Professor Mark Thorsby regaled our LIFErs today with stories from his study abroad class with Professor Maria Sanders to the United Kingdom. This was a philosophy and logic class which challenged their students to examine their lives and find out what makes them tick. Mark highly recommends Aristotle’s Ethics. We took a virtual tour via Google Street View to Oxford University in England and stood on the steps of the Bodleian Library questioning why we want an education. It is not only to improve our lifestyle, but also to further knowledge. Mark spoke about the Dark Ages when our society collapsed and records were not kept. It was the monks who founded Oxford University and to this day the students and faculty wear robes during exam time to commemorate the renaissance of knowledge and history. Christ Church School’s cathedral was the model for the Harry Potter dining room in Hogwarts School. The pubs of Oxford are places where community meet to discuss life, not just drink beer.

On we went to Edinburgh, Scotland and saw the beauty of a city not destroyed by bombs of the world wars. The architecture is rich and varied and David Hume, the famous philosopher, gave much of his wealth to create a beautiful public park. Lewis Carroll also wrote in Edinburgh and used the daughter of the dean of Christ Church, Oxford as a role model for Alice in Wonderland. His tailor had a funny hat and he turned out to be the Mad Hatter. Not to mention a big fat cat.

On to Belfast they went to question war and how the seeds of war and strife were sown over 500 years ago. The students were exposed to this culture of the United Kingdom and came home with an expanded life view full of depth and nuances.

We were especially struck by the study abroad program's wilderness training. It took the students' complicated lives, stripped them of paraphernalia, and allowed them to appreciate the simplicity of an unencumbered life: what matters is the character on the inside, not the window dressing of material goods.

Mark says that LIFE should take a trip abroad!

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