This course has been one of questioning. We have been forced to question our society and think about where its roots come from, why it exists in the ways it does, and what challenges it faces going forward. We have truly found a wide range of challenges to modernity, from race relations in America, to rampant environmental degradation. Questions of the morality of violence, and examinations of mental illness. We have even faced questions about civilization itself and its validity. These are often difficult questions to deal with, but after every discussion I feel as if I at least know more about the world we live in. Only by asking questions and refusing to accept information as “given”. I think the discussions that produced the biggest paradigm shifts for me were the discussions that really challenged what we have come to accept in our 21st century world.
The Manhattan Skyline, a symbol of modernity and 21st century living. Image Credit: Alec Jones
The first of these discussions that really sticks out to me was our discussion of happiness. I think when discussing happiness, we really got into what happiness is, and examined why people often feel uncomfortable admitting that they are unhappy. I wrote a blog about this very subject which can be found here. By breaking down a widely used concept, and examining its contents, we were able to reach a level of insight that might previously have been unmet. Another discussion that prompted such a response in me was our talk on good vs. bad. We were asked to define good, bad, and evil before we opened it up for a discussion. While writing these ideas down, I found it difficult to differentiate between the three at times. There is often a lot of gray area in what we consider good, bad, or evil, making the three hard to expressly categorize. However, I believe that in our daily life we very frequently assign these classifications to things arbitrarily. This can be problematic, because oftentimes people and things are very multi-dimensional and never only good or bad or evil. Without breaking these ideas down and examining them closely, I would never have thought about these concepts in that way. I think that what has been most powerful for me in this course has been us challenging modernity. Although we often discussed the challenges to our society and the world around us, it can also be very helpful to pause and challenge our society and question why certain things are the way they are, and than use that information to change how we think or act.