Ideas That Shape Us

Fall 2022

Tuesdays, 6:30-9:00pm

Aug 30-Dec 13, no class Oct 25

Core Course I

Ideas That Shape Us

Fall 2022

Tuesdays Aug 30-Dec 13

(no class Oct 25)


David Foster Wallace’s anecdote about the two young fish is by now commonplace: An older fish swims by and asks them, “Well, boys, how’s the water?” and one of the younger fish looks at the other and says, “Water? What the hell is water?”

This simple illustration has been used in a variety of ways, but perhaps James K. A. Smith has gotten the most traction from it. In Smith’s iteration, the water we breathe is code for the ideas that compose our intellectual atmosphere. We do not think in a vacuum; centuries of thought have either polluted or filtered our epistemic environment, but we breathe it all in without a conscious thought, or worse, with the thought that this is just the way it has always been. But it isn’t.

This course will trace the major thought streams that have formed the water that we breathe today. We’ll wade through centuries of philosophy, theology, literature, art, and music in order to more objectively examine and critique our presuppositions and philosophical foundations.