Great Ideas that Have Shaped our World: From the Axial Age to the Robot Revolution

Universidad Pompeu Fabra

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Great Ideas that Have Shaped our World: From the Axial Age to the Robot Revolution

  • Host University

    Universidad Pompeu Fabra

  • Location

    Barcelona, Spain

  • Area of Study

    Ethics, Philosophy, Political Science

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview


    This course builds on the idea that ethical-religious, philosophical, and scientific imagination is vitally important in the development of human societies. It focuses on key religious, ethical-political, and scientific innovative ideas that have revolutionized and shaped society from antiquity to modern times. The course deals not only with understanding the context of the emergence of these ideas, but also their impact on the contemporary world and mentality. It will begin with the “Axial Age” (Karl Jaspers), characterized by a series of ethical-religious, scientific and philosophical innovations from China to Ancient Greece, and move chronologically to the Renaissance, Enlightenment and the current digital and robot revolution.

    The substantive and methodological approach is not Eurocentric and reductionist, but rather global and interdisciplinary. The course adopts a problem-solving approach based on understanding why and how new and creative ideas - from Buddhism and monotheism to Marxist materialism, genetical engineering and quantum physics - answer different types of challenges and queries - existential, epistemic, or ethical-political. The classes are structured through lectures and open discussions based on texts and videos/documentaries. The emphasis is on discussing primary sources (e.g. texts by Confucius, I. Newton, Ch. Darwin, S. Freud, A. Einstein) and relevant videos/documentaries, with the aim of understanding revolutionary ideas, their relevance and their long-standing influence on current practices and societies.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.


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