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College of Arts and Science

UN/PL56001 Seeing, Loving, Serving

capstone program

Mary Troxell

Philosophy Department

We only see what we look at. To look is an act of choice
—John Berger

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes
—Marcel Proust

Course Description

There is no innocent eye; our ways of seeing are always informed by our cultures, our contexts, and our characters. Both the capacities to love and to know are linked with the ability to see properly, and developing these capacities lies at the heart of a Jesuit education. In this course, we will explore the link between properly seeing ourselves and others and becoming “men and women for others.” Drawing on texts in philosophy, theology, psychology and literature, we will examine the forces that have shaped our vision and will reflect on how we can take the perspectives gained at Boston College into our future relationships and careers. 

In this course, we will explore questions such as: how does our community encourage us to reveal ourselves or conceal ourselves? How does the issue of privilege bear on our ability to see one another? How has my perspective on parents, friends, and community been transformed in the past four years, and how have their perspectives on me changed? How can I carry my new perspective into the future regarding my relationships and career? How will my future plans foster my further enlightenment? How can my transformed vision help me impact society in a positive way? How does my spirituality inform the way I see others?

Assignments will include regular short quizzes at the beginning of class on the assigned readings, biweekly reflection papers, and a longer essay due at the end of the semester. In addition, discussion will be a vital component of the class, and therefore you will be required to contribute generously in these discussions. While the quizzes will contain straightforward questions on the assigned texts, the reflection papers will require that you meditate on your own experiences in terms of the assigned readings. The longer essay will focus on identifying how your coursework has impacted your perception of yourself and others so that you can better carry your new vision into your lives after college.

Reading Schedule

Note: For longer works, we may be reading only short selections, which will be available through course reserves.

Weeks 1-2

Ways of Seeing

“This is Water [Kenyon College Commencement Speech],” David Foster Wallace
Ways of Seeing, John Berger
“Moral Perception and Particularity,” Lawrence Blum

Weeks 3-4

Seeing and Privilege

Invisible Man, Prologue, Ralph Ellison
Tortilla Curtain, T. Coraghessan Boyle
“Stereotypes and Stereotyping: A Moral Analysis,” Lawrence Blum

Weeks 5-6

Perception and The Self

The Meaning of Persons, Paul Tournier
“On Self-Deception,” John Paul Sartre
Tortilla Curtain (cont’d)

Weeks 7-8

Seeing and Spirituality

Selected Readings, Thich Nhat Hanh
Awakening Through Love, John Makransky
And Now I See: A Theology of Transformation, Robert Barron

Weeks 9-10

Seeing and Loving

Love’s Executioner, Irving Yalom,
The Price of Privilege, Madeline Levine
I and Thou, Martin Buber
Theology of the Body, Pope John Paul II
Sex and The Soul, Donna Frietas
“On Friendship,” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Weeks 11-13

Seeing and Serving: What the Future Holds

Modern Madness: The Hidden Link Between Work and Emotional Conflict, Douglas LeBier
Let Your Life Speak, Parker Palmer
Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs, John Bowe
A Life at Work, Thomas Moore
“Against the Great Defeat of the World,” John Berger