Course - Between Science and Spirituality. South Asian Religions in European Society - RVI2160
RVI2160 - Between Science and Spirituality. South Asian Religions in European Society
New from the academic year 2023/2024
Examination arrangement: Assignment
Grade: Letter grades
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The course focuses two prominent tropes associated with Buddhism and Hinduism in Western cultures. The first is the assumption that Hinduism and Buddhism are rational philosophies - even sciences in their own right - rather than belief-based religions. They are presented as fully compatible with empirical sciences (physics, psychology, cognitive science, etc.), rational world views (evolution theory, atheist empiricism, etc.) and a modern secular lifestyle. Antithetical to this image, the second trope is centered around the notion that Indian religions possess an ancient knowledge about dimensions of the human psyche unknown (or lost) in modern Western society. Based on this assumption, spiritual techniques of Indian provenience have gained increasing popularity and scientific interest since the 1960s.
Popular culture, but also scientific and scholarly literature transport images of Indian religions oscillating between these two tropes. This course scrutinizes these discourses critically, examining popular cultural practices like Yoga, Vipassan¯a meditation, ¯Ayurvedicmedicine, etc.; scientific engagements with Indian culture (neurological meditation research, quantum mechanics and the Buddhist theory of emptiness, transpersonal psychology,etc.); references to Indian spirituality in popular film and literature (e.g. the symbolism of Transcendental Meditation in the work of David Lynch).
The topic is approached from the critical perspective of post-colonial theory. Special attention is given to the meta-criticisms of cross-cultural hybridization, de-contextualization,and cultural appropriation.
According to the course curriculum, a candidate who passes this course is expected to have the following learning outcome (defined as knowledge and skills):
- has good knowledge of the religious traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism, especially in their (post-)modern shapes,
- has an analytical understanding on the formation of globalized knowledge emerging from, often asymmetrical, cross-cultural dialogue,
- has an overview of central concepts of critical theory, especially from post-orientalist and post-colonial traditions.
- is able to critically assess relevant literature from problem- and context-oriented perspectives focusing the dynamics of cross-cultural encounter, including the practices of de-contextualization, cultural projection and disappropriation,
- is able to critically assess popular images of Indian religions,
Learning methods and activities
Teaching consists of lectures and seminars.
In order to be admitted to the final exam an obligatory activity must be approved. For more information on this activity, see Blackboard. The obligatory activity is only given the semester the course is taught, but is valid for this and the subsequent semester.
- Approved obligatory assignment
Further on evaluation
The exam itself consits of a written assignment of 7,000-8,000 words.
Recommended previous knowledge
Skills equivalent to one year of university studies, including basic courses in religious studies.
Required previous knowledge
The required reading list will be available at the beginning of the semester.
Credits: 15.0 SP
Study level: Intermediate course, level II
Term no.: 1
Teaching semester: AUTUMN 2023
Language of instruction: English
- Comparative Religion
Examination arrangement: Assignment
- Term Status code Evaluation Weighting Examination aids Date Time Examination system Room *
Room Building Number of candidates
- * The location (room) for a written examination is published 3 days before examination date. If more than one room is listed, you will find your room at Studentweb.
For more information regarding registration for examination and examination procedures, see "Innsida - Exams"