Core I

Tomás F. Crowder-Taraborrelli
Meeting times: M-F 1:00-4:00 p.m.
Office hours: M 4-5 p.m., Maathai 414

“The Enduring Questions of Humanity”

Introduction to Core Curriculum

A two-course sequence, Core explores a range of issues related to the mission statement of the university, including its commitment to values such as peace, human rights, and the creative coexistence of nature and humanity. Core also provides an introduction to the various ways of knowing that characterize the major divisions of the undergraduate curriculum, thereby laying the foundation for the interdisciplinary and cross-cultural study that underlies Soka education. In this exploration, Core courses stress an understanding of the social and historical contexts necessary to make meaningful comparisons among cultural traditions.

Upon completing the Core, student-learning outcomes are:

* To demonstrate knowledge of the commonalities and differences of the human experience from multiple (historical/cultural/disciplinary) perspectives
* To critically evaluate this knowledge in relation to their own lives
* To develop their ability to speak and write effectively about their evaluation of this knowledge

Building on a set of common readings, individual members of the faculty help shape the core through reading selections drawn from their special training, expertise, and interests.

Books you need to purchase in the SUA bookstore

Bhagavad-Gita:  The Song of God
Confucius, The Analects
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
Lucretius, On the Nature of Things
The Upanishads:  Breath of the Eternal  [in the bookstore]


CORE 1 is a Pass/No-Pass class, but you may obtain a letter-grade by formally requesting it by the end of the 2nd day of class. Narrative Assessments will also be given along with your final grade.


1st essay, 4 pages      25%
2nd essay, 4 pages      25%
3rd essay, 6 pages      35%
Short oral presentation 15%

Special Needs

Soka University is firmly committed to providing whatever assistance necessary to aid in the learning process.  Those students with special needs are strongly urged to present the appropriate documentation to the Instructor immediately so that the instructor can make the necessary arrangements.


Monday, August 14
Introduction to the course/syllabus.
Introduction to Lao-Tzu, Tao Te Ching. First 41 sections.
E. Cioran. “Thinking against oneself.” The temptation to
exist. Richard Howard-Susan Sontag-Eugene Thacker. Arcade Pub. 2012 (15 pages).
Discussion of upcoming Essay #1 (DUE on Sunday, Aug. 23rd)
HOMEWORK: Next 40 sections of Lao-Tzu, Tao Te Ching.

Tuesday, August 15
Discussion of Lao-tzu (finish)
Screening of sequence of Rivers and Tides
Introduction to Confucius

HOMEWORK: Confucius Analects, Ch. 1-4, 7, 9, 12-13

Wednesday, August 16
Discussion of Confucius Analects
Screening of sequence of Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams

HOMEWORK: The Upanishads:  Breath of the Eternal [Katha (pp. 13-25), Isha (pp. 26-28)]

Thursday, August 17
Discussion of The Upanishads.

HOMEWORK: Bhagavad-Gita:  The Song of God [Chapters I, II, III (pp. 30-49)]

Friday, August 18
Discussion of Bhagavad-Gita:  The Song of God [Chapters I, II, III (pp. 30-49)]

HOMEWORK: Aristotle’s “Metaphysics.” J. Ackrill. A New Aristotle Reader. Princeton University Press, 1988.

Sunday, August 20
ASSIGNMENT DUE: Essay #1 Due at noon.  

Monday, August 21
Discussion of Aristotle’s “Metaphysics ” (from Book I (A) to Book
VIII (H)) and upcoming Essay #2.
Weiss, F. G. Hegel’s Critique of Aristotle’s Philosophy of
Mind. Martinus Nijhoff, 1969. (recommended reading)

HOMEWORK: Finish reading Aristotle’s “Metaphysics.”

Tuesday, August 22
Discussion of Aristotle’s “Metaphysics.”
Introduction to Antigone and Greek Tragedy.
FILM: La stanza del figlio (The Son’s Room), Nanni Moretti, 2002.

Wednesday, August 23
Discussion Antigone.

HOMEWORK: Antigone

Thursday, August 24
Discussion Antigone
Epicurus. “Letter to Herodotus.” The Art of Happiness.
Trans. George K. Strodach. Penguin Books, 2012.

HOMEWORK: Epicurus. “Letter to Herodotus” and Lucretius Books I, II

Friday, August 25
Discussion of Epicurus. “Letter to Herodotus”
Discussion of Lucretius Books I, II.

Lucretius Book III.

Sunday, August 27
ASSIGNMENT DUE: Essay #2 due at noon.

Monday, August 28
8:15 a.m. (meet at Ikeda library steps) Getty Field Trip
HOMEWORK: Look over notes of Getty Field Trip

Tuesday, August 29
Discuss oral presentation assignment
Discussion of upcoming Essay #3.
Wednesday, August 30
In-class film screening: Patricio Guzman’s Nostalgia for the Light.
HOMEWORK: Work on Oral Presentations

Thursday, August 31
Oral Presentations in-class.

HOMEWORK: Bring a reading to class that relates to one of the texts we have read

Friday, September 1
Oral Presentations if needed

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