Topics for Paper 2, REL 253 Religion, Love, and Death

Due Wednesday, Oct 24, 2012 in class.


1. Augustine and Freud
As found so far in the readings for the course, compare and contrast Augustine and Freud's view of the role of religion and love. Discuss three points of difference. Despite their basic differences, are there any similarities? (Hint: consider the concept of personal history/memory.) Use one or two paragraphs to discuss
2. Augustine's Story of His Own Conversion
According to Augustine's Confessions, it was through the Bible and his faith that he was brought to resolve his inner conflicts, especially those involving human love and sexuality. How would Freud view this story about religion, love, and sexuality? How would Augustine respond to Freud's critique? (Use 1-2 paragraphs discussing Augustine's response. Also, here [1,2] is a link to the passage from Confessions posted to Blackboard, not included in your reader, that describes Augustine's moment of faith.)

3. Freud's Story of the Primal Horde
In Totem and Taboo (p. 141), Freud relates the story of the "primal horde" as part of his argument that religion originates with the idea that the sons' conflicted desire to both love and honor the father, on the one hand, and to hate and kill him, on the other. He argues that the need to hide this desire and intent lies at the basis of the symbolic nature of religion, as found in tribal totemic religions as well as later developments, including Christianity. How would Augustine view this story about religion, love, and death? How might Freud respond to Augustine's critique? (Use 1-2 paragraphs discussing Freud's response.)
4. Freud on Naomi
How would Freud see the case of Naomi from Robert Akeret's Tales from a Travelling Couch? In particular, discuss how he might see the roles of repression and sublimation in relation to her impulses and desire for love and sexuality. Spend 1-2 paragraphs discussing Freud's possible assessment of Akeret's therapy of Naomi.
5. Zhuangzi on Naomi
How would Zhuangzi see the case of Naomi from Robert Akeret's Tales from a Travelling Couch? In particular, discuss how he might see the Naomi's transformation into Isabella in light of Zhuangzi's transformation into a butterfy (p. 44). Discuss both similarities and differences. Spend 1-2 paragraphs discussing Zhuangzi's possible commentary on Akeret's therapy of Naomi.
6. Zhuangzi and the Storied Self
Discuss the relation between the narrative self (storied self) and the Dao (Way) as found in Zhuangzi, using the episode of Woodworker Qing (p. 129) and/or Cook Ding (pp. 45-46). In what ways do these stories call into question the prevalent view of the self (master narrative) of early Chinese society. Do these stories also call into question the very nature of the narrative self? If so, how, and from what standpoint? (Hint: Think about Nature as expressing the Dao.)
7. Augustine, Freud, and Zhuangzi
Create a dialogue (written in the first-person voice, as in a play) between any two of these three thinkers we have examined so far in this course: Augustine, Freud, and Zhuangzi. Have them discuss their points of agreement and disagreement on the true nature of self and its relation to the themes of the course, choosing any two of "religion, love, and death." Be sure to include page references for your topic.
8. Influence of Course Readings
Describe how two of the readings from the course thus far have changed or influenced your view of religion, love, and death. At least one of those sources must be from Week 3 onwards. BE SURE TO INCLUDE PAGE REFERENCES FROM THE READINGS.