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Main Course Links

Google Forms, Class Audio, and Peerceptiv

  • Peerceptive Sign up for Peerceptiv today! The class code is "hire12". Cost is $6.95 for the semester. Choose research option "yes"
  • Tell Me - A general form for telling me anything anonymously or not.
  • Audio From Class
  • To access audio from class, fill in the weblink following this example: alfino.org/audiofromclass/447JAN12.m4a

Resources for Projects and Practica


  • The goal of this practicum is to cultivate a basic ability to quiet your mind through a self-paced introduction to mindfulness meditation. As with the yoga practicum, you will be investigating the potential connection between having a quieter mind and wisdom. If the initial meditations are productive, you might add "loving kindness and compassion" meditations to the practice.
  • Resources for Self-Guided Basic Mindfulness Meditation: This wiki page -- Meditation Exercises -- provides instructions for a simple mind-quieting meditation. You can think of quieting your mind as an initial challenge in the practice of mindfulness meditation, one which might take up to two weeks or longer to succeed at. At this page you will also find links to many forms of guided meditation in which someone speaks part or all of the time or music is used to aid in the meditation. Lots of choices and room for experimentation based on your experience.
  • Resources for Metta Bhavana (Loving Kindness and Compassion) meditations. After starting to achieve some effects from mind-quieting meditation, you should try some focused meditations, in which you direct your mind toward particular kinds of mental states that one might associate with wisdom, such as compassion. This could be worked into the latest two weeks of the practicum, and could be alternated with basic meditations.
  • The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society. [1]
  • A "progressive Christianity" site's resources. [2]
  • "The Buddhist Centre" [3]
  • Normal obligations of the practicum: best effort at 5-7 days a week of meditations, 10-20 minutes/day for 4 weeks. One 2-3 page (typed, double spaced) journal per week, submitted through the practicum dropbox, reflecting on the week.
  • Start Date: February 15 to March 15
  • Yoga Practice
  • The goal of this practicum is to heighten your practice of yoga (at whatever level of experience you practice it) and, in conjunction with some reading and reflection, to try to determine whether and how the physical and emotional well-being promoted by yoga practice helps with wisdom. For example, you may have a problem or issue in your life that requires wisdom. How does this problem look after a really good yoga session? Or you may notice a change in your interactions with others that you see wisdom in, especially on the heels of a good yoga session. Other kinds of wisdom-effects might be more internal and subtle. Or you might find that you just like yoga. The practicum only involves considering and looking for connections with wisdom; not necessarily finding them.
  • This practicum works with your choice of yoga practice, preferably a practice that involves 2-3 sessions per week. Most Americans like studio yoga, but for this practicum it might be good to try adding a shortened version of your studio practice as a morning or evening practice, especially if you are only going to yoga once or twice a week. This home practice can be as short as 10-20 minutes. I recommend that you read Fahri, Donna, "Cleaning up Our Act" from Bringing Yoga to Life (linked from courses.alfino.org) or other online reading about yoga philosophy. Over the course of the month you may want to try visiting one or two yoga studios that have less "exercise" oriented yoga.
  • Normal obligations of the practicum: 1-3 yoga sessions and/or some home sessions for 4 weeks. One 2-3 page journal per week, submitted through the practicum dropbox, reflecting on the week.
  • Start Date: Feb to March 15
  • Wisdom journals based on spiritual practice from your religious tradition
  • Students can work with a spiritual advisor (either from the community or Campus Ministry) and report weekly on their spiritual practice and it's potential relationship to wisdom.
  • Prayer and religious contemplative practices are historically powerful methods for cultivating wisdom. Consider this practicum especially if you have a strong spiritual practice or would like to intensify or renew your faith life.
  • Normal obligations of the practicum: One 2-3 page journal a week, not necessarily as detailed as the interaction you have with an advisor.
  • Start Date: Feb to March 15
  • Seneca Meditations
  • The goal of this practicum is to adopt Seneca's daily meditation practice as described in De Ire (On Anger). The excerpt is here Seneca Meditations Excerpt, but it occurs in the middle of a long essay on Anger, in which Seneca argues against anger as an acceptable or wise emotion to allow. He recommends the stoic advice, discussed in class, of adjusting your expectations to match reality, even to allowing for a more pessimistic outlook, as a means of avoiding being surprised and angry about how things go. (Check out this 24 minute you tube from popular philosopher Alain de Botton on Seneca's view [4]. Along with the excerpt, youtube, and some reading around in his essays, you should begin the following practice: Each evening review your day as suggested in the excerpt from De Ire. Ask yourself about opportunities for wisdom missed, along with other sorts of improvements you might have made to your day. The analysis is up to you. You might find that your day would have been improved by more planning, or by more perspectiv taking in interactions, or simply by being more present to your experience (mindful) or more dedicated to your self-stated goals. Try to remember to implement improvements in the following day. Repeat. You could try added a "negative viusalization" to your practice as well. (Read Irvine, "Negative Visualization".)
  • Read about Seneca and several of his essays and epistles (choose from topics below), then make a daily practice of reviewing your attitudes, motivation, and interactions with an eye to self-criticism in the spirit of stoicism in general and Seneca in particular. Seneca's essays are online at: Book 1 [5] and Book 2 [6]
  • Read a few pages from Haphram's article on Seneca's view of gratitude (linked from courses.alfino.org)
  • Normal obligations of the practicum: One 2-3 page journal a week for four weeks reflecting on the practice.
  • Start Date: Feb to March 15
  • "A Perfect Day" Journal and Reflection
  • This practicum involves keeping a log or adding to your current appointment book a practice of writing, preferably by hand, "A Perfect Day" at the beginning of the day and then assessing that judgement in light of your daily experience. In introducing the practicum, we will discuss a few different ways of thinking about perfection, but in the end you should not try to judge your entire day in terms of all of the attributes that might make a day perfect. (Of course, if you have a really fantastic day while doing this practicum, you should note that.) Instead, or for the most part, you should look for "perfections" (and near-perfections) in your day. Often these are small things: someone understands something subtle about you, someone displays wisdom, you see something beautiful, or you learn something that makes you marvel. They could be events you observe or reflections that you have or combinations of each. In some ways this is the inverse of the Seneca journals, you are focused on seeing perfection in the world rather than self-perfection.
  • Start Date: Feb to March 15


General Links to Wisdom related Resources

  • Mercier and Sperber article mentioned in Haidt, Chapter 4: [7]
  • NYRB article on technology and effects of our dependence on social relations [8]
  • Ricardo Semler, [[9]]
  • Baltes' unpublished book on wisdom: [10]
  • Friends of Wisdom site, Nicholas Maxwell: [11]
  • Review of a recent book by biologist David Sloan Wilson on group selection and altruism. [12]
  • Some details about aging from Atul Gwande's new book, Being Mortal: Media:AgingDetailsGwandeBeingMortal.pdf
  • Americans as outliers, Pew research. [13]
  • Mischel impulse control video. very cute. [14]
  • New Yorker article on delayed gratification [15]
  • Wiki page on "deferred gratification" [16]
  • Mather Amygdala Study Article
  • Forest of Friendship, Baggage Carousel of Jerks[17]
  • So You Think You're Smarter Than A CIA Agent, [18]
  • Sikh Wisdom: [19], [20]
  • Ngram for wisdom and related terms [21]
  • TED talk on misdirection: [22]
  • multi dimensional scaling [23]
  • Video for the Trolley Problem [24]
  • Wisdom Self-test

Notes from Previous Version of the Course