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Teaching The Perennial Philosophy in High School

Authored By: 
Cavin Thuring, Technology Teacher

This upcoming spring semester, I’ll be teaching a course here at The Beekman School called the Perennial Philosophy. The basic theme of this high school philosophy course is to get at the underlying similarities between the world’s faiths. Traditionally, the attempt is to look strictly at history of esoteric and exoteric beliefs and practices. This semester, I’m going to incorporate how these beliefs have worked for and against the rise of the scientific method and the present debates of scientists and philosophers on the modern anthropic models of the fine-tuned universe: matter and consciousness. 

 

Teaching - and Understanding - Philosophy vs. Science

 

Neil Degrasse Tyson quipped in his television series, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, “Some would say: we are the universe looking back at itself.” While more objectivist scientists balk at a statement like this (see Stephen Hawking backpedaling from his statement by stating he is an atheist), my goal as a high school philosophy teacher this year is to compare and contrast Tyson’s statement to an old Kabbalistic adage where a student asks, “Rabbi, why all this?” to which the rabbi responds, “Because God wished to behold God.”

 

What exactly is “God”? Well, the nature of man and the universe as it relates to “God” has seemingly been speculated about since the dawn of human consciousness. I think it will be fitting for this philosophy class to explore how the modern intellectual debates carries on this speculation, this perennial philosophy, uninterrupted.

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