Spring 2009 Wisdom Course Supplemental Notes

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Return to Wisdom

I'll use this page for supplemental notes from the class. -Alfino

Jan 13: Introduction

Early Questions

1. What are the characteristics of wise people?

empathetic, knowledge, virtuous, innovative, realistic, cautious, accepting experience
age/experience, "street smart" (as opposed to book smart), personality and charisma, serenity
abstract thinking, simple lifestyle, moral transc., discipline
insightful, open-minded, humble, developed capacity for self-reflection
sacrifice, experience, age, character, education (formal/informal), well-spoken, just, awareness of world / others.
application of knowledge, rational, open minded, looking at the bigger picture, reflective.

2. Give examples of wise people in your life. Describe them.

3. Wisdom illusory or real?

maybe real, but the subjectivity of wisdom literature is a problem.
can't identify it with specific emotion like happiness.
recognizable in others.

4. Give a preliminary definition of wisdom.

  1. Practicing one's knowledge.
  2. Wisdom is like other things that look simple, but are really complex.
  3. Good judgement and advice about important but uncertain matters.
  4. Expert knowledge system in the domain, fundamental life pragmatics.

Note to Class


Thanks for a good first class. I think we've got a really interesting group.

I'll be asking for volunteers to present a brief overview of key ideas or "highlights" from specific readings. This is not a substitute for my presentation of the material, but it really helps me gauge what you took from the reading and where I should come in. The presentation itself is very informal. Just identify, in 3-5 minutes the key ideas you took from the reading and some questions you have after doing the reading.

For next week, I need volunteers for the five readings assigned. Once you volunteer, you don't need to do this again until the whole class has gone.

So please email me with a particular reading (1-5) from next week's class that you could give a "Highlights" presentation on.


Jan 20: Greek/Hellenistic Wisdom 1

Pre-class summaries and class plan

Here are some notes on the readings to provide context. My goals for this class are:

  1. . To get the Platonic/Socratic view of wisdom articulated with an initial assessment.
  2. . To see something of the relationship between Homeric and philosophical models of wisdom. (Theory point on sources of wisdom)
  3. . To see how a developmental psychologist Gisela might look at the the dynamics of classical thought on wisdom.

excerpt from Apology

The excerpt from the Apology which we read for this week gives the classic statement of Socratic Wisdom, also refered to as socratic ignorance. For Socrates, wisdom is a property of the divine. Paradoxically, humans are wise primarily to the extent that they realize that they do not possess wisdom. Socrates (and Plato) are pretty clear in other dialogues (cf. Meno) that knowing that you do not know something is better than thinking that you do. The Sophists, whom Socrates refers to as the paid teachers of the youth, help people acquire a pretense of knowledge. Poets don't even understand their own poems, so how could they have wisdom? Craftsmen, interestingly, do have some wisdom according to Socrates, but they overgeneralize from the domain in which they do have wisdom to areas in which they do not.

excerpt from Symposium

The Symposium is presented by Plato as the record of a drinking party in which each participant was obligated to give a speech on the nature of love. You can check the wikipedia for an overview of the specific speeches. Our excerpt is taken from Socrates famous speech on love, in which he quotes Diotima, a real female ancient Greek philosopher (rare then). Love turns out to be a semi-divine force that motivates us to pursue the highest forms, including Wisdom. Wise people do not get stuck chasing pretty lovers (especially boys for these guys); they realize that beyond the specific beautiful people, there is the form of beauty. Climbing the "ladder of love" reorients our lives in a practical way toward less transitory things. That is supposed to be a wise thing to do. Start at 201D for the main part of the reading.

excerpt from Phaedo

The Phaedo is the dialogue recording a lengthy conversation about the immortality of the soul. The setting for the dialogue is the jail in which Socrates' will soon be executed by lethal ingestion of hemlock. The incredibly dramatic ending is the death scene itself. Our two passages are from the end of the dialogue and include that scene. In the first passage, roughly 78B to 86E, Socrates is giving some arguments for associating the soul with the sort of reality that might not perish. Specifically, he imagines that souls that practiced philosophy have less matter clinging to their souls upon death. Simmias and Cebes have an objection to his view, but they are afraid to put it forward since, in the present circumstances (Socrates' immanent death), it might be disturbing if they are right and the soul isn't immortal. After assurances from Socrates, Simmias makes the objection that the soul may be like the attunement of an instrument, but then, when the instrument perishes, the attunement does as well. This "Pythagorean" view is imcompatible with Socrates, yet trades on the same analogy.

In our second passage, 107D to the end of the dialogue, you get to full scale Platonic myth of the afterlife and reincarnation. Drink it in and analyze it as myth. What vision of the wise life is implied by this vision of the afterlife?

  • Note connection of purification practices in life (philosophy as a contemplative practice?) to the state of the soul in the afterlife at 82c-d and 114C.

Class Plan

  • Some basic distinctions in Robinson: sophia/phronesis, body as tomb, Aristotle's approach,
  • Image of Socratic wisdom in Apology (Student presentation)
  • Images of the movement of the soul toward wisdom and absolute knowledge in Phaedo and Symposium.
  • Wisdom and developmental psychology
  • Starting our list of theoretical issues for Wisdom theory building

Jan 27: Greek/Hellenistic Wisdom 2

Aristotle's View of Virtue, Happiness, and Wisdom in Book 1-5 of NE.

Main discussion of Aristotle's view of telos, the end of human action (happiness), human function, and virtue as the golden mean.

Notes on Evolution and Wisdom

Brief discussion of Csik.' evolutionary hermeneutics. Distinction between "adaptive" and "adaptation".

Look up something on "memes"

Next Morning

Follow up email:


Just a couple of follow-up notes from yesterday's class:

I've just posted the study questions from yesterday's class. I realized after class that I forgot to review, in class, the answers to last week's questions. We'll look at both sets of questions next week. Please keep following the roster to determine which question you should answer.

Here's an event some of might want to check out. "Catholicism for New Millennium will sponsor its next talk on Monday evening, February 2, from 7:30-9:00 in the Globe Room at Cataldo. Dean Brackley SJ will be speaking on his recent book "The Call to Discernment in Troubled Times: New Perspectives on the Transformative Wisdom of Ignatius of Loyola." Dean Brackley is Professor of Theology and Ethics at the University of Central America (UCA) in El Salvador. When the Jesuits at UCA were martyred by the army in 1989 the leader of the Jesuits sent out a call for volunteers to replace them. Dean Brackley was one of the many who made themselves available, and was selected to be sent to UCA for this work. he has written extensively on Jesuit spirituality and on the Jesuit mission in higher education. He also serves on the board of trustees at our brother Jesuit school, The University of San Francisco."

The reading schedule for next week is updated with the two readings I passed out in class. Thanks for checking it.

Finally, please work on your grading schemes. In addition to my regular office hours, M-W 8-11, you can catch me on Thursday afternoons and Fridays.

It would be great to get some feedback on your experience of the course so far. I'm a little concerned about the difficulty of some of the reading. Tell me how things look so far from your perspective.


Feb 3: Greek/Hellenistic Wisdom 3

Part A: Baltes & Baltes: Wisdom, its ontogenesis, and as meta-heuristic

First article, "Toward a Psychology of Wisdom and its Ontogenesis" -- two main parts to this article, the first focuses on method and theory, the second on empirical research on our collective concept of wisdom.

-Wisdom as "as "expert knowledge involving good judgment and advice in the domain, fundamental pragmatics of life."
-Summary of the life span developmental psychology literature, p.88.
-Method: cultural phenomenon vs. scientific phenomenon. p. 89
-Motivations: study of peak performance, search for positive aspects of aging, study of nature of "contextualized knowledge"
-Wisdom as peak performance (show image of liberal arts). (issue of attainability)
-Do people become wiser as they become older (91-92)
-working framework for study of wisdom p. 95 Discussion of the five criteria----

-data on ontogenesis - follow results.

Second article, "The Intermarriage of Wisdom and Selective Optimization: Two Meta-Heuristics Guiding the Conduct of Life"

Thesis, p. 250: Wisdom offers the most general meta-frame of the nature of optimal human development. Further, wisdom may be achieveable in behavior by following the SOC model from life span psychology.
Wisdom, another defintion: "entails a convergence of means and ends toward excellence involving the personal and common good."
Berlin Wisdom Paradigm:
First two criteria from expert theory -- rich factual knowledge and rich procedural knowledge, next three are "wisdom specific" : contextualism, relativism of values and life priorities, and recognition of an management of uncertainty.
Empirical Research
think-aloud protocols, using 5 criteria to score.
maturity and onset of wisdom greatest in transition through early 20s!!! Later life wisdom gains may be more contingent.
results of research? assessment?
Wisdom as meta-heuristic [Consider in relation to meme theory]
"aimed at organizing and guiding the overall conduct of life toward excellence.
Heuristic -- def. "shortcut", rule of thumb.
SOC -- described, correlation with proverbs. SOC outcomes are adaptive?

Part B: Aristotle's distinction between Sophia and Practical Wisdom (Prudence)

see notes from class and Owen notes.

Feb 10: Greek/Hellenistic Wisdom 4

Preliminary results on wisdom, sophia and phronesis

Stoic Dates

"The Stoic Worldview"

Theology & Ontology
Determinism & Choice
Importance of Hegemonikon
Model of Growth and Development toward Sagehood & Wisdom

Large group and Small Group discussion and assessment.

Passages from "The Discourses as Reported by Arrian, Bks 1-4

  • Epictetus, Dialogues, BK1, Chapters 18 and 29 (up to line 30)
  • Epictetus, Dialogues, BK1, Chapters 9 and Bk 11 ch. 8
  • Epictetus, Dialogues, BK1, Chapters 24 & 25
  • Epictetus, Dialogues, BK2, Chapter 6
  • Epictetus, Dialogues, BK3, Chapters 12 & 13
  • Epictetus, Dialogues, BK3, Chapters 21 & 22

Next Morning


Thanks for a good discussion yesterday. Study questions are posted and there's an audio clip summary of the class on ItunesU.

We didn't have time to look at your grading schemes, but please finish posting them if you haven't already. If you are planning to do the experiential learning exercise on Greek/Hellenistic thought, you such decide soon. Note the new journal due dates on the Assignment page of the course website.

Have a great week and please be on the look out for opportunity to apply your views of wisdom to everyday situations. This is clearly a philosophical topic where you get to run the full range from abstract philosophy to everyday life.


Feb 17: Greek/Hellenistic Wisdom 5


  • Review of main philosophical positions, similarity and diff from Stoics.
  • Gods
  • Death
  • Desire
  • Pleasure - kinetic/katastematic, adjustment of self to simple pleasures, "restraint".
  • Virtue and choiceworthy pleasure

"Hellenistic Wisdom"

Wisdom Exercise

We'll do an exercise in class which attempts to determine the extent and coherence of our "tacit" understandings of wisdom across a variety of pragmatic domains.

Feb 24: Yoga/Samkya Wisdom 1

Notes on method / transition to Yogic thought

-Follow up thoughts on our work from last week's exercise: getting from agreement about general traits to the "hard problem" of wisdom (How do we determine how to map general conditions for wise action on our particular, 1st person, experience. 3rd to 1st person perspectives again. This suggests a limit of sorts to Baltes-type theories.

-Note on method approaching Yoga and Judeo-Christian thought. Philosophical anthropology vs. 1st person perspective.

-Overview of dates and traditions.

Yoga Philosophies

-Historical Introduction (Feuerstein 1 & 2): role of teacher, gnosis in yoga, "crazy adepts" and cynics.

-Specifics on:

  • Hatha
  • Jnana
  • Bhakti
  • Karma
  • Mantra
  • Laya
  • Integral

Our goals in this introductory review of yoga thought and practice are to: 1) fix an accurate historical and intellectual understanding of the diversity of yoga traditions; and, 2) begin to probe yogic theories of enlightenment and the movement toward wisdom.

Contemporary Writing on Yoga

Fahri, "Yoga as Life Practice"

Next Morning Blog


Thanks for a good class, yesterday. I'm sorry I'm so new to working with this material, but I hope we gained a sense of the uniqueness of Yogic traditions, as well as the ways that major diverse schools of yoga distinguish themselves from their historical predecessors. I didn't put this in terms of cultural meme theory last night, but you could say that Yoga has some unique features as a meme. We discussed how it is experientially based and eschews institutional frameworks or a great concern with orthodoxies or creeds. Specific Yogas can have very substantial metaphysical commitments, but it is not always clear that these involve the supernatural as Western thought conceives it. While yoga is often practiced in the U.S. as a group exercise class, we also discussed examples of individuals (often yoga teachers) who practice the comprehension (8 limbed practice for Patanjali) assortment of moral, physical, and meditative practices that constitute yoga as a contemplative life practice. As a meme, these features make yoga something that is easy to start, often delivers noticeable benefits even to beginners, and coexists reasonably well with the moral or metaphysical outlook of many philosophical and religious traditions. As we noted, there's not much cognitive dissonance between yoga and Catholicism.

While we will be studying classical yoga in some detail over the next few weeks, I thought it was also important that we distinguished the several major varieties of yoga. As Feuerstein makes clear, each of these involve a specific "path" or mix of the "spiritual technologies" available within the historical tradition. As we get further into classical yogic thought and Samkhya metaphysics, we should remember that each yoga has a distinctive view of wisdom and the steps needed to achieve it. As with Stoicism and Epicureanism, yoga involves specifying a mental, physical, and psychological regimen for approaching sagehood. While the model here is less about adjustment of the self to reality and more about the transformation of the self, in both Greek and Yogic traditions we find normative ideals of the self and methods to bring our identity and responses into line with that ideal. Both acknowledge that this process of transformation is quite individual on one level and requires a direct relationship with a teacher, though yogic discipleship is different from Hellenistic.

We also spent some time try to understand the core insight of classical yoga ("Yoga is the cessation of the turnings of consciousness.") in light of experiential evidence of "meditative effects" and "yogic effects" from a typical class of asana and pranyama methods. Those of you with experience in meditation or yoga spoke quite clearly, I thought, about how you would distinguish those experiences from simple relaxation or stretching. Whether you achieve this quieting of the mind from focusing on a specific pose and experiencing deeply your physical reaction to that pose and your body, or by meditation, we need to ask how that experience is understood (along with other practices) as moving us toward wisdom. That will be our job as we proceed with our study of yoga over the next few weeks.

I do recommend that you try the basic mindfulness meditation exercises on the wiki. Also, you might want to drop in on a yoga class over the next few weeks.

Mar 3: Yoga/Samkya Wisdom 2

We have a shorter class today because of the mid-term, but here are a couple of things I'd like to focus on:

Some Classical Yoga Teachings: Kleshas and Brahmavihara

Kleshas Patanjali lists the five causes of suffering, or kleshas, as:

  1. Avidha: Ignorance of our eternal nature
  2. Asmita: Seeing oneself as separate and divided from the rest of the world
  3. Raga: Attraction and attachment to impermanent things
  4. Dvesha: Aversion to the unpleasant
  5. Abhinivesha: Clinging to life because we fail to perceive the seamless continuity of consciousness, which cannot be broken hy death (Yoga-Sutra 2.3)

-note rough parallel to Buddhist thought -return of the issue of the body - clinging to body a source of suffering.

The four Brahmavihara (attitudes):

  1. Friendliness toward the joyful
  2. Compassion for those who are suffering
  3. Celebrating the good in others
  4. Remaining impartial to the faults and imperfections of others (Yoga-Sutra 1.33)

-note outward and social orientation - discuss individual / social in connection with justice. -role of visualization in this (see later on cog. psych.)


Will discipline makes us joyless? 73-74: Milarepa's image of a disciplined but "spirited horse"

Is discipline just for the bad part of us? 77 - 78 analogy 77: alignment, reduction of friction, "swimming"

Using Cognitive Psychology to Explore Wisdom Traditions

Pascal Boyer and Justin Barrett. cognitive anthropology and cognitive psychology.

-How must the mind be structured or have evolved given the cognitive landscape of religion?

Major feature of the cog/ev/psych account

  • Modularity of the mind -- subsystems for folk psychology, folk physics, folk biology. Agency Detection Device.
  • Mental Tools -- templates for understanding categories of things.
  • Reflective Belief vs. Non-reflective Belief
  • Minimally counter-intuitive beliefs

Analogy to wisdom. Individual / Social, Memes, Discipline, "Going beyond experience"

-- religious belief involves the extraordinary use of existing mental faculties. For Barrett it is "natural".

With this in mind, what stands out in Feuerstein's account of ancient shamanism and ritual (ch. 4) or the Upanishadic tradition (ch. 5)?

  • Can shamanism, be seen as an "extraordinary use of an ordinary mental faculties"?
  • Magic and the Arthava-Veda - invocation of the presence of Agni
  • Basic Upanishadic teaching (Feuerstein 126)

Mar 17: Yoga/Samkya Wisdom 3

Patanjali's Yoga Sutras

Part 1: The Aim of Yoga

"The aim of yoga is to eliminate the control that material nature exerts over the human spirit, to rediscover through introspective practice what the poet T. S. Eliot called the "still point of the turning world." " This is a state of perfect equilibrium and absolute spiritual calm, an interior refuge in the chaos of worldly existence. In the view of Patanjali, yogic practice can break habitual ways of thinking and acting that bind one to the corruptions of everyday life." (Miller, p. 1)

Concise summary of Yoga method:

Use the 8-limbed approach to still the mind. Achieve contemplative poise and the observer standpoint. This standpoint allows you to perceive the true self, liberated from it's obstacles. The rationale for this goal is found in the analysis of the current obstacles to self-knowledge. Implicit in this is a claim that we are in a state of self-alienation.

5 kinds of "turnings" that are either immune or corruptable:

1) valid judgement
2) error
3) conceptualization,
4) inference, and
5) verbal testimony

Doctrine of memory traces - nothing is lost (Later, connected to idea of "seedless Contemplation" and action.

YS12-16: Mastery of desire, absence of craving. (Connection to Stoic/Epicurean thought)

[Note relationship between cessation of thought and wisdom. Wisdom promotes cessation of thought. (Consider dynamics. How would that work?] But then at YS2.27, Miller p. 50, wisdom is outcome.

Sources of cessation of thought: YS17-22.

Obstacles: disease, apathy, doubt, carelessness, indolence, dissipation, false vision, failure to attain a firm basis in yoga, and restlessness.

[Small group topic] Tranquility of thought

Part 2: Practice of Yoga

  • Forces of corruption - involution and Samkhya metaphysics. (Feuerstein, p. 76)
  • Practical examples of involution. - in physical and mental awareness
  • Purification of body and detachment from it.
  • Withdrawl as "transitional phase" moving toward deeper contemplation.

Major Issues for Critical Discussion:

  1. Is sense withdrawal and the quieting of the mind compatible with active commitment to others and engagement in the world?
  2. Are we really in a state of self-alienation and corruption?
  3. Does Yoga turn nature on it's head?
  4. How the 3 Gunas help you figure out how to move toward the observer standpoint.
  5. How are the Yamas and Niyamas related to the 3 gunas and involtion?

Email follow up


Thanks for a good first discussion yesterday. I thought we made progress with some difficult material. There's an audio summary on the Course Website (schedule for 3/17) and on the Itunes site. It's about 8 min.

I'm glad you all found free access to the Miller book online. Please try to take some notes, so you have some issues to bring forward. Also, keep thinking about the question of the isolation of the Observer. Both Miller and Fahri take the view that this isolation is not a social separation (aphorism 1.33 is important here). I'm exploring that sympathetically still. But I'm also considering another line, that maybe we are actually fundamentally separate from one another, as an existentialist might argue. Then instead of objecting to the isolation of the Observer, you'd own it.

Well, that and more for next week. Please try to develop your views about the Yoga Sutras for next week. I'm excited to see what we come up with.


Mar 24: Yoga/Samkya Wisdom 4

Yoga as "Embodied Awareness"

  • How do we put the physical practice of asanas and pranyama together with the other six limbs of yoga?
Fahri: the body as way of carrying the head around, something to exercise. In contrast, asanas encourage us to start with what we feel, move into stillness, locate where we are "stuck".
YS 3.46 "Bodily perfection includes beauty, grace, strength, and a diamond's hard glow." and in subsequent aphorisms we find a connection between discipline of sense organs and mastery over matter.
This connection is visualized in a variety of ways: energy in the body as released by practice, chakras, "subtle body".
How asanas and breathing affect human physiology.

Yoga Sutras Parts Three and Four

  • Cessation of thought and enlightenement. Cessation of thought is the overall process, though not the ultimate goal.
  • Stages of yogic development in the Sutras:
  • Tranquility
  • Contemplative Poise
  • Contemplation - seeded and seedless
  • Observer standpoint - using 3 gunas
  • Samyama - "perfect discipline" - product of realizing three limbs of concetnration, meditation, and pure contemplation.

"The light of wisdom comes from mastery of perfect discipline." (YS 3.5)

Part Four -- Absolute Freedom

  • The perspective in Part Four seems to one in which purusa, thought(in nature), and "objective" nature get resolved into their basic dualism.
  • Substance metaphysics in YS 4.14
  • Moving from thought to spirit as one's standpoint: YS 4.22 "Awareness of its own intelligence occurs when thought assumes the form of the spirit through consciousness that leaves no trace. Note metaphor of sun in Miller's commentary, p. 79
  • YS 4.25, "One who sees the distinction between the lucid quality of nature and the observer ceases to cultivate a personal reality."

Does the achievement of yogic calm and the Observer standpoint ultimately connect you to a social reality or isolate you? How so?

Mar 31: Judeo-Christian Wisdom 1

3 comparative theses

1. Platonic and Yogic models of wisdom both involve separation of soul/body, though in different ways.

Plato -- mind cultivated in contrast to body.
Yoga -- body/moind cultivated for lucidity, freedom from attachment and desire.

2. Disciplinary practices range from cognitive to a kind a "affective therapy" (with goal of changing responses).

Platonists are on the cognitive side (to know the good is to do it, ideally). Stoics and Epicureans use a mix. Yogic seems somewhat more affective, though claims about the objective nature of the the self (and self-alienation) are objects of cognition.

3. Training in wisdom is epistemic and experiential by degrees in Greek and Yogic thought.

Wisdom as a shift in standpoint or perspective

Wisdom involves both progressive movement toward goal and fundamental standpoint shift. We imagine this standpoint shift in terms of a special kind of self, either a true self (without the body or having overcome the illusions of physical nature), or one better adjusted to reality.

Cognitive psychology of agency helps explain the cognitive presuppositions of this standpoint shift. In other words, what must be true of our cognition given that we can adopt this change in standpoint?


  • Differences between Books I, II, and III.
  • Proverbs as ways of teaching doctrine.
  • Proverbs as ways of managing uncertainty.
  • Rhetoric of proverbs.

Ignatius, Historical background and background on Mystical Theology

  • "Mystical theology, then, comprises among its subjects all extraordinary forms of prayer, the higher forms of contemplation in all their varieties or gradations, private revelations, visions, and the union growing out of these between God and the soul, known as the mystical union." 1913 Cath. Encyclopedia.
  • Heart as symbol of affections.
  • Need to be free from attachments that do not lead to God. (note Yogic analogue)
  • Purification ritual or prayer.
  • Need for rules for discernment of spirits.
  • Personification of soul usually includes spiritual counterparts to the senses.

Email Follow-up from Class


During the first part of our class, we drew out a couple of comparative theses about wisdom. Specifically, I wanted to show how both Greek and Indian traditions conceive of the relationship of the body and discipline to the achievement of wisdom. As we saw, the emphasis and style of cognitive, affective, and spiritual practices shifts across Greek, Hellenistic, and Yogic thought. Cognitive practices involve reflective thought about the nature of reality (including human virtue), affective practices involve everything from reflecting on our emotional responses to changing them through practices of restraint, and spiritual practices involve relationship with a "super-agent". In yoga this can be a devotional god or a version of our selves (or the yogi with special powers), experiencing the world through a shift in standpoint to purusa.

Whatever theses you draw from our comparative study, it is important that you start to consolidate some results for your theory of wisdom, which you'll write up for the end of the month. I would really like this paper to express your carefully thought out philosophical theory of wisdom. To make this daunting task more manageable, you should start to identify "pieces" of your philosophy of wisdom. Use a review of the course content to locate some of the areas of certainty in your view or major questions which you know you will want to address. I recommend that you create a list of sub-topics and questions and set aside some writing time (10-15 minutes) a few times this week to work out some of your views informally. This will probably also be a wise approach to the topic!

In the second part of class, we did some work with Proverbs, both the book and the form. The differences in rhetoric and focus between Books 1 and 2 is interesting. Within Book 2, we looked at the "form" of a proverb. Perhaps the most interesting part of the class to me was our exercise in creating proverbs. I think we found that proverbs need to have a kind of generality or "possibility of generating inferences" (a phrase that comes up in the cog. psych literature on concepts of God). So we distinguished proverbs from advice, and, on the other end of the scale, from general laws. Proverbs seem to be "domain specific" and function as heuristics for reducing uncertainty.

We finished the class with some background on mystical theology and a hurried review of major points in the Introduction. Please review those pages I mentioned that have an overview of the whole work. It helps to keep the whole structure on your mind as you read through it.

Lots of office hours left this week: Drop in MTW 8-11 & by appointment on MWTH1-4, & Friday 8-5.

Thanks again for a great class, and have a great week.


Apr 7: Judeo-Christian Wisdom 2

Introductory notes on Mystical Theology and the Ignatian Exercises

Note on method: Continuing on approach from the first two units: 1st Person / 3rd person, faith-committment vs. non-faith committment. Hypothesis: Some baseline questions can be approached with awareness of these differences and with neutrality with respect to them. 1. How do the Exercises "work"? and 2. How does the practice of the Exercises orient one toward wisdom?
process of purification
accounts of mystical union
misc observations on the Exercises
question of the "modernity" of the Exercises: concept of self-improvement, concept of desire, notion of "sacred suffering". note parallels with Hellenism and Yoga.
Lohsdale article concern about social justice. interpretive issue about the openness of the text.

Sr. Mary Garvin's guest presentation on the Spiritual Exercises

Close reading of the 1st Week

Apr 14: Judeo-Christian Wisdom 3

Apr 21: Judeo-Christian Wisdom 4