Magic, Science, Religion and Mystical Prague

Course NameMagic, Science, Religion and Mystical Prague
Course CodeSOC279
DescriptionThis interactive course explores science, magic, and religion in a socio-cultural context. It will take students on a critical historical journey exploring the development of Christianity and science as Western phenomena in the specific environment of medieval, post-medieval and modern Europe, with a special focus (but not only) on Prague. It will further examine the ever evolving relationship between science and non-Western and non-Christian cosmologies.
Starting with the Pre-Enlightenment mind-set prior to 1700 and taking it up to the 21st century, the course examines the process of forming and re-forming and defining and re-defining rationality and scientific inquiry while designating certain activities and elements as essential and “correct” and repudiating others as magical, irrelevant, and even harmful. The additional focus of the course is the formation process of modern objective religion. The discussion will include a critical examination of the impact that European definition and division of religion, science, and magic has had on the way non-Western/non-industrial societies have been treated and their value systems have been assessed in modern history.
Special attention will be paid to Prague. This is because in the course of medieval and early modernity Prague was a cultural center where magic, religion, and science met in a variety of complementary and conflicting ways. The course will take students across the city on a historical trip tracing the development of science as a Western discipline in the environment of Renaissance and early modern Europe. In this time Prague hosted an array of important proponents of astrology, alchemy, religious revolution, and early science. These included astrologists and astronomers Johannes Kepler and Tycho de Brahe, alchemists of the Rudolphine times, such as Edward Kelley and John Dee, and Catholic Reformists, such as Jan Hus and Master Jerome of Prague. The discussion will include a critical examination of the impact that the development of the concepts of religion, science, and magic in Prague has had on both Central European and global social history.
Learning OutcomesUpon completion of this course, students should have a critical and informed understanding and academic skills related to the following:
– Comprehension and analysis of the important facts and theoretical frameworks required to understand the formation and shaping of science, scientific inquiry and rationality as a Western social construct and epistemological model.
– Acquisition of important background knowledge required for a deeper insight into social and historical processes that have created different ways of comprehending and defining social relations and into the complex role that shaping of science and religion played in the process.
– Ability to apply the acquired knowledge in order to critically evaluate the different existing ways of knowing and learning in modern multicultural society and the changes of these ways across different historical eras.
– Continued development of excellent written and oral communication skills appropriate to advanced-level academic work.
– Demonstrable analytical and critical-thinking skills necessary to make sense of the historical, psychological, and cultural dimensions of human nature and interaction; and
– Self-awareness, openness and sensitivity to cultural and social diversity and ways of knowing.
SchoolThe School of Humanities & Social Sciences
Number of credits (US / ECTS)3 US / 6 ECTS