Mercer philosophy department introduces new class for spring 2019

Creators of new philosophy class, The Gods Must Be Crazy: Rabbi Aaron Rubinstein, Charlotte Thomas and Yash Patel.

Natalie Yaeger

Creators of new philosophy class, The Gods Must Be Crazy: Rabbi Aaron Rubinstein, Charlotte Thomas and Yash Patel.

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The philosophy department at Mercer University will offer a new class this spring called “The Gods Must Be Crazy.” It seeks to combine philosophy, religion and different cultural stories from Hebrew, Hindu and Greek traditions from the late Axial Age and earlier in order to show how a common theme can be found among each different story.

Mercer Philosophy Professor Charlotte Thomas, Rabbi Aaron Rubinstein and Mercer graduate Yash Patel will lead the class. While the stories each teacher tells will come from a different background of Hebrew, Hindu or Greek tradition, there will be a unifying theme within each story.

The specific goal of the class is to “illuminate very similar questions about the human condition and the nature of reality,” according to the class description.

The class will consist of a chosen theme for the week where students will do some background reading on the topic. The professors will share cultural stories in order to show how various traditions follow that theme.

Talking through the stories will allow students to learn about each tradition as well as what each theme “may illuminate about our own philosophical attempts to pursue self-knowledge and clearer ideas about the human condition,” according to the class description.

Thomas, Rubinstein and Patel held a mock classroom experience Oct. 19 where they shared Greek, Hebrew and Hindu stories related to the theme of “oops.” Rubinstein told a story from Genesis 29 in the Torah, Patel told a Hindu story from the Mahabharata and Thomas related a story of Greek paganism.

Love, war, jealousy, chaos and deception were a few of the topics discussed to convey the “oops” theme.

“Ancient people had poetic minds and thought poetic characters,” Thomas said. “They told stories to make sense of themselves and the world they lived in.”

Some themes students will explore next semester are “creation, love, family, heroism, war, wealth, poverty and justice.”

“The Gods Must Be Crazy” will be available for registration as PHI 290.004. It is set to take place Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:40 p.m. to 2:55 p.m. in the spring.

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