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Dr. John Provost, Ph.D.
Business and Social Sciences Division
Online and by phone most of the time. Monday and Wednesdays 1:00-3:00 officially.
This philosophy course is an exploration of some of the most profound ideas of the Western worldï¿½s greatest philosophers.
I hope that for many of you this course will be a study of wisdom and meaning and that you will find it not only interesting but also relevant to your life. The purpose of this course is to come to a deeper understanding of how philosophy addresses the problems of meaning in human life and death.
This class is completely online. While there are due dates, all assignments are open so you can work ahead if you like rather than be late.
This course explores the origin, history and significant ideas of the worldï¿½s major western religions. We will compare the fundamental insights, ideals and contributions toward the human moral heritage and wisdom of the Indigenous Religions, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Reading and live music.
Some students find it helpful to know a little about my background and why I love teaching before they jump into their studies.
I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. When I turned 18, I took advantage of an offer to work in Scotland. I spent the next four years (mostly) working and traveling around Europe. Not exactly college, but an interesting education nevertheless.
When I returned from Scotland, I began working with people living with a wide variety of developmental challenges, attending night school at community colleges and then San Francisco State University. My experience as an educator includes six years as a vocational trainer, mostly with autistic adults.
I have been studying philosophy and religion my whole adult life. Intellectually, my home is in the world of Integral Philosophy.ï¿½I attended graduate school at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, earning my PhD in Philosophy and Religion. I wrote my dissertation on the philosopher Jacob Needleman, and the role of contemplative philosophy in higher education. He remains my mentor.ï¿½
I find using an integral perspective to navigate life really useful, and that is why I share it with my classes. It is not a series of propositions you need to believe in, but rather a framework in which to see and study.
Teaching college and university students since 1998, I have been lucky to be "living the dream." I am a Philosophy Lecturer not only here at MPC, but also at California State University Monterey Bay.
When I worked as a special education vocational trainer, I met the joy of my life ï¿½ Cheryl. We married in 1988, and she remains my best friend. My stepson Ben was just 8 years old when we married. He now has his own family and lives close by.
We love living on the Central Coast. One of our favorite activities is finding a sunny beach and getting lost in good books. Hiking around in Big Sur, my favorite place, never gets old.
We love live music, having attended literally hundreds of concerts over the years, traveling to many states and even a few other countries for musical adventures. Another passion is reading and collecting books. We now have in our home library over four thousand titles.
I think of Integral Philosophy as ï¿½world philosophy.ï¿½ This is because it welcomes insights from the East and the West, men and women, and ancient and modern philosophers. It also embraces the challenges posed by modern science, especially in the fields of physics and artificial intelligence.ï¿½
My classes aim to give students a taste of what I describe as contemplative philosophy from an integral perspective.ï¿½This aim allows me to offer a different viewpoint from one many students are used to. My focus, in one way or another, comes back to "the need to be guided by awakening ideas, rather than toxic ones"ï¿½(Needlemanï¿½s wonderful phrase).
Such an approach can be an enlightening learning experience. It encourages one to study what is going on in the world as if it were a mirror, reflecting back what is going on within our own psyche.
While I love awakening ideas, my classes must spend some time discussing ideas that are toxic. Toxic ideas do not help our world or provide solutions to the many challenges we face, both personally and culturally.
For example, one toxic idea that many of us absorbed long before we could think for ourselves is the belief that we will be happier as we accumulate more and achieve more. There is no evidence that this is true.ï¿½Wisdom teaches that true happiness comes from giving rather than getting.
Questioning such toxic ideas is one reason why you need to cultivate the capacity to think critically. Otherwise it becomes all too easy to accept values that no longer serve you well.
Rumi's Bird of Love
Philosophy, in very simple terms, can be thought of as the effort to seek and love wisdom,ï¿½while avoiding the all too common critical thinking mistakes called ï¿½fallacies.ï¿½ This faulty thinking is the cause of much suffering. Rather than using our minds in creative and intelligent ways, we more often use it to dwell negatively on a past that we cannot change or worry fearfully about a future we do not control.
I invite you to use your time studying in this course as one way to live ï¿½the examined life.ï¿½ This allows you to explore your values and your view of the world. It is a way to seek what the ancient Greek philosophers called ï¿½the True, the Good, and the Beautiful.ï¿½ Self-knowledge is an important foundation on which to build a life guided by wisdom and compassion.
The great Sufi poet and sage Rumi spoke these words: "The bird of love has two wings, wisdom and compassion." Love is the road that leads you toward inhabiting the world of compassion and wisdom. These qualities are key to leaving this world a better place when you are no longer here. They are also the key to what the various wisdom traditions call ï¿½awakening.ï¿½
J Glorian Provost, PhD
The MAIN thing is to keep the MAIN thing the MAIN thing
Last update: 2021-09-09
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