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Seminars PDF Друк


Seminar № 1

Religion, its Essence, Structure, Historical Forms

1. Religion Studies

a) religion studies: sociology of religion; psychology of religion; anthropology of religion etc.;

b) approaches to religion studies: theological, biological, sociological, Marxism, phenomenological etc.;

2. Key Characteristics of Religion and its Structure

a) key characteristics of religion: 1/ belief system; 2/ community; 3/ central myths; 4/ rituals; 5/ ethics; 6/ emotional experience; 7/ material expression; 8/ sacredness;

b) elements of religion: 1/ religious consciousness; 2/ religious relations and norms; 3/ religious activity; 4/ religious organizations and institutes

3. Patterns among Religions

a) focus on beliefs and practices (sacramental orientation; prophetic orientation; mystical orientation);

b) religious views of the world and life (the nature of sacred reality; the nature of the universe; the human attitude toward nature; time ; human purpose; words and scriptures etc.)

4. Functions of Religion

5. Major Forms of Religion

a) monotheism; polytheism; theism; deism; pantheism

b) historical forms: national, world religions

Basic categories and concepts:

Abrahamic religions - the designation used for monotheistic faiths emphasizing and tracing their common origin to Abraham. Judaism regards itself as the religion of the descendants of Jacob, grandson of Abraham. Christianity began as a sect of Judaism in the 1st century AD and rapidly evolved into a separate religion with distinctive beliefs and practices. Islam was founded by Muhammad in the 7th century CE upon the teachings in the Quran, which draws on Judaism, Christianity and native Arab traditions;

Deism is a religious and philosophical belief that a supreme being created the universe, and that this (and religious truth in general) can be determined using reason and observation of the natural world alone, without the need for either faith or organized religion.

Immanent refers to philosophical and metaphysical theories of divine presence, which hold that some divine being or essence manifests in and through all aspects of the material world.

Monotheism is the belief in theology that only one God, the Creator exists who created the world out of nothing.

Pantheism is the view that the Universe (Nature) and God are identical. Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal, anthropomorphic or god creator.

Religion is the belief in and worship of God or gods, or in general a set of beliefs explaining the existence of and giving meaning to the universe, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

Theism in the broadest sense is the belief that at least one deity exists. In a more specific sense, theism refers to a doctrine concerning the nature of a monotheistic God and his relationship to the universe. Theism, in this specific sense, conceives of God as personal, present and active in the governance and organization of the world and the universe.

Transcendental is a condition or state of being that surpasses physical existence and independent of it. Transcendence can be attributed to the divine not only in its being, but also in its knowledge.



Charles R. Monroe. World religions : an introduction / Charles R. Monroe. — Amherst, N.Y. : Prometheus Books, 1995. — 439 p.


Bryan S. Rennie. Reconstructing Eliade. Making sense of religion / Bryan S. Rennie. — Albany : State University of New York Press, 1996. — 293 p.

Primary sources:

Carl Jung. Psychology and Religion: West and East / Carl Jung : [transl. by R. F. C. Hull]. — Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 1969. — 699 p.

James George Frazer. The golden bough : a study in magic and religion / Sir James George Frazer. — New York : Oxford University Press, 1994. — 858 p.

Joseph Campbell. The Hero With a Thousand Faces / Joseph Campbell. — Novato, Calif. : New World Library, 2008. — 418 p.

Seminar № 2

Hinduism, Buddhism

1.The Vedas and the Upanishads

a) 1500 B.C. – the Vedas: Rig Veda; Yajur Veda; Sama Veda; Atharva Veda

b) important concepts on the Upanishadas: Brahman, Atman, maya, karma, samsara, moksha

2.Bhagavad Gita, the Caste System, the Yogas

a) the Caste System: 1/ the priest (brahmin); 2/ the warrior-noble (kshatriya); 3/ the merchant (vaishya); 4/ the peasant (shudra); 5/ the untouchable (dalit)

b) Jnana Yoga (“Knowledge Yoga”), Karma Yoga (“Action Yoga”), Bhakti Yoga (“Devotion Yoga”), Raja Yoga (“Royal Yoga”), Hatha Yoga (“Force Yoga”)

3.The Trimurti

a) Brahma; Vishnu; Shiva

4.Buddhism: beginning and basic teachings

a) three Marks of Reality: 1/ change; 2/ no permanent identity; 3/ suffering

b) the Four Noble Truths: 1/ to live is to suffer; 2/ suffering comes from desire; 3/ to end suffering, end desire; 4/ release from suffering is possible and can be attained by following the Bole Eightfold Path

c) The Noble Eightfold Path: The Way to Inner Peace

5. Buddhism: Theravada, Mahayana, Zen Buddhism

a) the main branches of Buddhism: Hīnayāna, Mahayana, Zen Buddhism and Lamaism.

Basic categories and concepts:

Atman is a philosophical term used within Hinduism, especially in the Vedanta school to identify the soul whether in global sense (world's soul) or in an individual sense. It is one's true self (hence generally translated into English as 'Self') beyond identification with the phenomenal reality of worldly existence.

Brahman in the Hindu religion is the eternal, unchanging, infinite, immanent, and transcendent reality which is the Divine Ground of all matter, energy, time, space, being, and everything beyond in this Universe.

Karma is the concept of "action" or "deed", understood as that which constitutes the entire cycle of cause and effect, originating in ancient India and treated in Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist philosophies.

Nirvana is a central concept in Indian religions. In Hinduism philosophy, it is the union with the Supreme being. The word literally means "blowing out" — referring, in the Buddhist context, to the blowing out of the fires of greed, hatred, and delusion.

Samsara literally meaning "continuous flow", is the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth (i.e. reincarnation) within Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and other Indian religions.



The Encyclopedia of world faiths : an illustrated survey of the world’s living religions / Peter Bishop & Michael Darton. — New York, N.Y. : Facts on File Publications, 1988, 1987. — 352 p.


Gavin D. Flood. An Introduction to Hinduism / Gavin D. Flood. —New York, NY : Cambridge University Press, 1996. — 341 p.

Richard B. Pilgrim. Buddhism and the Arts of Japan / Richard B. Pilgrim. — Chambersburg, PA : Anima Books, 1993. — 78 p.

Primary sources:

Scripture of the lotus blossom of the fine dharma (the Lotus sūtra) / Leon Hurvitz. — New York : Columbia University Press, 2009. — 384 p.

Seminar № 3

Judaism, Christianity

1. The Hebrew Bible and Religious Practice

a) the Torah: story of creation, Adam and Eve, Noah, Hebrew patriarchs and matriarchs

b) Prophets: Former Prophets (history of Israelite kingdom) and Latter Prophets (moral norms)

c) Writings: close to imaginative literature


2. Origins of Christianity, Jesus and His Teaching

a) the influence of Hellenistic culture

b) rebellion of Maccabees and religion Factions: 1/ the Sadducees; 2/ the Pharisees; 3/ the Zealots; 4/ the Essenes

3. Early Christian Beliefs

a) the Testament and the Gospels are the sources of the knowledge of Jesus Christ’s life and teaching

4. The Christian Canon

a) the New Testament: the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John); the Acts of the Apostles; the Epistles; Revelation

5. Directions of Christianity

a) the Catholisim: history, dogmas, cult practice

b) the Orthodox Christianity: history, dogmas, cult practice

c) Protestantism: history, dogmas, cult practice

Basic categories and concepts:

Communion is an especially close relationship of Christians, as individuals or as a Church, with God and with other Christians.

Divinization refers to the exaltation of a subject to divine level. The term has meanings in theology, where it refers to a belief, and in art, where it refers to a genre. In theology, the term apotheosis refers to the idea that an individual has been raised to godlike stature.

Ecumenical council is a conference of the bishops of the whole Christian Church convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice.

Original sin, sometimes called ancestral sin, is, according to a doctrine proposed in Christian theology, humanity's state of sin resulting from the Fall of Man.

Purgatory is the condition or process of purification or temporary punishment in which the souls of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for Heaven.

Redemption is an element of salvation that broadly means the deliverance from sin. St. Paul uses the concept of redemption primarily to speak of the saving significance of the death of Christ Theologically, redemption is a metaphor for what is achieved through the Atonement. Therefore there is a metaphorical sense in which the death of Jesus pays the price of a ransom, releasing Christians from bondage to sin and death.


James Kritzeck. Sons of Abraham: Jews, Christians, and Moslems / James Kritzeck. — Baltimore : Helicon, 1965. — 126 p.

Paul Barnett. Jesus & the rise of early Christianity : a history of New Testament times / Paul Barnett. — Downers Grove, Ill. : InterVarsity Press, 1999. — 448 p.

Primary sources:

Scripture of the lotus blossom of the fine dharma (the Lotus sūtra) / Leon Hurvitz. — New York : Columbia University Press, 2009. — 384 p.

The Holy Bible : containing the Old and New Testaments. — Nashville : T. Nelson Publishers, 1990. — 890 p.

Seminar № 4


1. The Life and Teachings of Muhammad

2. Essentials of Islam

a) Five pillars of Islam: 1/ Creed (Shahadah); 2/ Prayer (Salat); 3/ Pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj); 4/ Charity to the Poor (Zakat); 5/ Fasting during Ramadan (Sawm)

b) Additional Islamic Religious Practices: 1/ Dietary Restrictions (prohibition of pork & wine); 2/ Prohibition against Usury and Gambling; 3/ Circumcision (7-8 age); 4/ Marriage; 5/ Female Roles; 6/ Death Rituals

c) Sharia

3. Historical Development of Islam

a) Sunni and Shiites

Basic categories and concepts:

Jihad is a religious duty of Muslims. Jihad appears frequently in the Quran and common usage as the idiomatic expression meaning "striving in the way of Allah". A person engaged in jihad is called a mujahid; (the plural is mujahideen). Jihad is an important religious duty for Muslims. A minority among the Sunni scholars sometimes refer to this duty as the sixth pillar of Islam, though it occupies no such official status,

Revelation is the revealing or disclosing, or making something obvious through active or passive communication with supernatural entities. It is believed that revelation can originate directly from a deity, or through an agent, such as an angel. One who has experienced such contact with or communication from the divine is often called a prophet.

Ramadan (also Ramadhan, Ramadaan) is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from dawn until sunset.

Sharia is the sacred law of Islam. All Muslims believe Sharia is God's law, but they have differences among themselves as to exactly what it entails.


James Kritzeck. Sons of Abraham: Jews, Christians, and Moslems / James Kritzeck. — Baltimore : Helicon, 1965. — 126 p.

Islamic ethics of life : abortion, war, and euthanasia / edited by Jonathan E. Brockopp. — Columbia, S.C. : University of South Carolina Press, 2003. — 248 p.


Akbar Ahmed. Islam today : a short introduction to the muslim world / Akbar S. Ahmed. — New York : I.B. Tauris Publishers, 2008. — 253 p.

The just war and jihad : violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam / R. Joseph Hoffmann. — Amherst, N.Y. : Prometheus Books, 2006. — 303 p.

Primary sources:

Reading the Qur’an : the contemporary relevance of the sacred text of Islam / Ziauddin Sardar. — New York, N.Y. : Oxford University Press, 2011. — 1109 p.

Seminar № 5

Religion in the Modern World

1. Origins of New Religions

a) reasons (social, economic, political etc.) provoking changes in religions

b) character features of alternative religious movements (syncretism, charismatic leader etc.)

c) classification of alternative religions

d) question of legalization of alternative religions

2. Religious Movements Sharing Features with Indigenous Religions

(answer should be represented according to the scheme: name, characteristic, example)

3. Religions with Elements of Indian Spirituality

(answer should be represented according to the scheme: name, characteristic, example)

4. Religions Close to Christianity

(answer should be represented according to the scheme: name, characteristic, example)

5. Religions Close to Islam

(answer should be represented according to the scheme: name, characteristic, example)

Basic categories and concepts:

Freedom of conscience is the freedom of an individual to hold or consider a fact, viewpoint, or thought, independent of others' viewpoints.

Fundamentalism refers to a belief in a strict adherence to a set of basic principles (often religious in nature), sometimes as a reaction to perceived doctrinal compromises with modern social and political life.

New religious movements are newly formed religious groups that form to protest elements of their parent religion. Their motivation tends to be situated in accusations of apostasy or heresy in the parent denomination; they are often decrying liberal trends in denominational development and advocating a return to true religion.

Religious toleration is the condition of accepting or permitting others' religious beliefs and practices which disagree with one's own; the support for practices that prohibit religious discrimination;

Secularization is the transformation of a society from close identification with religious values and institutions toward non-religious (or "irreligious") values and secular institutions.

Secularism is the concept that government or other entities should exist separately from religion and religious beliefs.

Tolerance is the ability to accept the existence of something while still disapproving of it.



Fundamentalisms and the state : remaking polities, economies, and militance / Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby. — Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1993.665 p.


Alister McGrath. Dawkins’ God : genes, memes, and the meaning of life / Alister McGrath.Malden, MA : Blackwell Pub., 2005. — 202 p.

Alister McGrath. The Dawkins delusion : atheist fundamentalism and the denial of the divine / Alister E. McGrath and Joanna Collicutt McGrath. — Downers Grove, Ill. : InterVarsity Press, 2007. — 118 p.

Richard Dawkins. The God delusion / Richard Dawkins.Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., 2008. — 463 p.

Seminar № 6

The Subject of Ethics

1. Development of Concept of Ethics in History of Philosophy

a) Antique philosophers (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle)

b) Middle Ages (Thomas Aquinas)

c) Modern Age (utilitarian theory of Jeremy Bentham and John Mill, philosophy of I. Kant)

d) Non-classical approaches to ethical questions (Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche)

2. Morality as a Subject of Ethics

3. Morals

4. Theories of Origin of Morality

a) Divine command theories

b) Naturalistic theories

c) Hedonism

d) Social and Cultural conceptions

Basic categories and concepts:

Apathy was used by the Stoics to signify a (desirable) state of indifference towards events and things which lie outside one's control (that is, according to their philosophy, all things exterior, one being only responsible of his representations and judgments).

Ethics is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality, that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice, happiness, love, conscience etc.

Morals is a capacity to apply values, norms and standards into behavior and conduct.

Morality is the set of personal or cultural values, codes of conduct or social mores that distinguish between right and wrong in the human society

Golden mean is the desirable middle between two extremes, one of excess and the other of deficiency. For example courage is the middle between recklessness and cowardice.

Conscience is an aptitude, faculty, intuition, or judgment of the intellect that distinguishes right from wrong.

Sanctity or Holiness is in general the state of being holy (perceived by religious individuals as associated with the divine) or sacred (considered worthy of spiritual respect or devotion; or inspiring awe or reverence among believers in a given set of spiritual ideas).

Virtue is moral excellence. A virtue is a trait or quality deemed to be morally excellent and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being.



Robert C. Solomon. Morality and the good life : an introduction to ethics through classical sources / Robert C. Solomon, Clancy Martin, Wayne Vaught. — Boston : McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2009. — 482 p.


Encyclopedia of ethics / Lawrence C. Becker and Charlotte B. Becker. — New York : Routledge, 2001. — 386 p.

Primary sources

Aristotle. The Nicomachean ethics / Aristotle : [transl. by David Ross]. — New York : Oxford University Press, 1998. — 283 p.

Friedrich Nietzsche. On the genealogy of morality / Friedrich Nietzsche. — New York : Cambridge University Press, 2007. — 195 p.

Seminar № 7



1. The Notion and the Structure of Moral Consciousness

a) philosophical approaches to the definition of moral consciousness;

b) the main elements of moral consciousness (moral norms, principles, motives and value orientations).

2. The Categories of Ethics

a) good and evil;

b) justice;

c) happiness

Basic categories and concepts:

Evil - is the opposite of good, meaning morally negative. Depending on the context, evil may represent violation and breaking of social norms, standards and values, bringing pain, suffering and displeasure.

Free will - is the ability of agents to make choices free from constraints. Historically, the constraint of dominant concern has been the metaphysical constraint of determinism. The principle of free will has religious, ethical, and scientific implications.

Good - is the category of ethics that represents morally positive value. "Good" is a broad concept but it typically deals with life, safety, happiness, and prosperity.

Justice - is the concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion.

Happiness - is the category of ethics that expresses a state of mind or feeling characterized by love, satisfaction, pleasure, or joy.

Moral consciousness - is the spiritual aspect of morality directing towards reflection of moral problems. The axis of moral consciousness is the idea of the good. The main characteristics of moral consciousness are the abilities to produce imperatives and evaluations.



Encyclopedia of ethics / Lawrence C. Becker and Charlotte B. Becker. — New York : Routledge, 2001. — 386 p.


William Barrett. Irrational man : a study in existential philosophy / William Barrett. — New York : Anchor Books, Doubleday, 1990. — 305 p.

Primary sources:

Friedrich Nietzsche. Thus spoke Zarathustra : a book for all and none / Friedrich Nietzsche : [transl. by Adrian Del Caro]. — New York : Cambrige University Press, 2006. — 270 p.

Erich Fromm. Escape from freedom / Erich Fromm. — New York : Farrar & Rinehart, 1941. — 305 p.

Viktor E. Frankl. The will to meaning : foundations and applications of logotherapy / Viktor E. Frankl. — New York : New American Library, 1988. — 198 p.

Seminar № 8


1. Aesthetics as a philosophical discipline

a) Antique philosophers (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle);

b) Western medieval aesthetics theories;

c) the foundation of esthetics as the philosophical science (A. Baumgarten, I. Kant, G. Hegel, Shiller);

d) non-classical theories of aesthetic

2. Aesthetics as a philosophical discipline

a) aesthetical;

b) beauty;

c) ugliness;

d) tragic;

e) comic

3. The Value of Art

Basic categories and concepts:

Aesthetical is the meta-category of aesthetics that expresses the non-utilitarian spiritual and sensitive way of cognizing and evaluation the world.

Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging symbolic elements in a way that influences and affects senses, emotions, and intellect.

Beauty is the basic category of aesthetics and a characteristic of a person, animal, place, object, or idea that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure, meaning, or satisfaction.

Catharsis is a term in that describes the "emotional cleansing" sometimes depicted in a play as occurring for one or more of its characters, as well as the same phenomenon as (an intended) part of the audience’s experience.

Comic is term referred to any sort of performance intended to cause laughter; since the Middle Ages the term "comic" became synonymous with satire and later humor in general.

Harmony is the combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes to produce chords and chord progressions having a pleasing effect. The term was often used for the whole field of music, while "music" referred to the arts in general.

Sensitive is a term referred to the traditional five senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste), that have not only biological but spiritual significance for man; synonym to aesthetical.

Taste as an aesthetic, sociological, economic and anthropological concept refers to a cultural patterns of choice and preference.

Tragic is the category that explains dialectic between necessity and freedom; form of art based on human suffering and death of main hero, usually opposed to comedy.

Ugly or ugliness is a term referring to a property of a person or thing that is unpleasant to look upon and results in an unfavorable evaluation.



Contemporary philosophy of art : readings in analytic aesthetics / John W. Bender, H. Gene Blocker. — Englewood Cliffs, N.J. : Prentice Hall, 1993. — 607 p.


Encyclopedia of aesthetics / Michael Kelly. — New York : Oxford University Press, 1998. — 405 p.

Primary sources:

G. W. F. Hegel. Aesthetics : lectures on fine art / G. W. F. Hegel : [transl. by T. M. Knox]. — Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1975. — 1289 p.