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HOPE: Human Odyssey to Political Existentialism

Princeton University via edX

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Overview

In this course, we look for answers to seemingly unsolvable queries: Why breathe? Why breed? Why bleed? What justifies continuing, creating, and killing lives? Seeking answers to these thorny questions, Princeton University and Tel Aviv University have joined hands to create a unique online course that delves into the depths of the human condition and its politics.

Human Odyssey to Political Existentialism (HOPE) is a journey into the human condition and its politics, turning to existentialism for guidance. The course explores, on both individual and political levels, the following themes: Human / nature, identity & authenticity, freedom, reflection, happiness, death & dread, meaning, morality & ethics, truth & trust, God & religion, alienation & love, and finally – hope.”

Most philosophers ask, “what is the good life?” and answer, "to feel good, or to be good, or to do good." Existentialism asks, “what is life good for?” and traces the answers that people, in their lived experience, give – to foster our own.

HOPE is a richly interdisciplinary course: anchored in political science and philosophy. It also draws on history, sociology, psychology, and economy – synthesizing theoretical insights with empirical findings; both vintage and novel. HOPE shows that science and art can create a wonderful synergy when studying – indeed foregrounding – our humanity.

HOPE employs novel technologies in ways that enhance – not drain – our humanity and our ability to turn from “power politics” to “purpose politics”: cultivating creative, courageous, civil choices – the gist of existential politics.

In HOPE, you will find:
  • Animated talks, interviews and student discussions
  • Exploration of key concepts and figures – thinkers, artists, and politicians – both ancient and modern
  • A host of fascinating questions to probe alone, and together, with friends and in class
  • Myriad multimedia features, including various forms of art (painting, prose and poetry, cinema, tv, and music)
  • An invitation to choose between several edifying projects, including a personal journal and a collective newspaper

HOPE has been created in collaboration with Tel Aviv University.

Taught by

Uriel Abulof

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Reviews for edX's HOPE: Human Odyssey to Political Existentialism
4.9 Based on 40 reviews

  • 5 stars 95%
  • 4 star 3%
  • 3 star 3%
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  • 1
Anonymous
5.0 2 weeks ago
Anonymous completed this course.
This is my first online course, so I have nothing to compare it to, but I really enjoyed it. It’s demanding, but not too much, and very rewarding. It’s a very smart course, full of ideas, and some surprises. The lectures are very engaging, I liked the music, and there’s a lot going on in the gallery. I spent there about 2-3 hours a week, and don’t regret it for a minute. If you’re interested in people and politics, you’d love it.
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Sorcha C
5.0 2 weeks ago
Sorcha is taking this course right now, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
This course is one of the richest and most thought-provoking courses I've taken. It combines philosophy, arts and politics to challenge our notions on a variety of topics ranging from identity, love, hope to alienation, death, god and many more. The underlying philosophy is existentialist, the politics are current, and the references to music, art and film certainly add interest and spark to the course.

One of my favorite things about this course is that it requires participation and interaction between the learners, something I often find lacking in other courses. Each topic req…
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Dave R
5.0 3 days ago
by Dave completed this course, spending 8 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
In some ways this MOOC is more of a personal journey than the traditional learning vehicle. It certainly made me think more about philosophical issues than any other course and in a more personal and immediate way. Because of this it could be fairly challenging, and it needs to approached with an open mind. I certainly am much clearer about the existentialist world view as a result. It also helped me look at some of the philosophers I'd previously read about from a different and richer perspective. And the additional sources provided will occupy me for some considerable time.

Most of the lectures finished with an "outro", a piece of music whose lyrics prompt questions relevant to that lecture (I'm listening more closely to lyrics than I used to); the choice of music is excellent - and additional reason for taking the course.
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Anonymous
5.0 5 days ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Bravo! Highly informative AND entertaining entry-level philosophy course. Creative use of media, especially video. I learned a great deal shout existentialism, and myself. I've recommended HOPE to many friends. I encourage Uriel to continue down this path.

Naturally, there were a few things that didn't work as well for me. I share one of them here as feedback which may prove useful in the evolution of this type of education. Here it b is : Visual images from art history often used as background to lecture portions. I like that. The problem was that sometimes I couldn't focus on them, and wanted to, because I was into what was being said. Or to say or a different way- the visual and audio fields could have been a little less complex in places. Bottomline: a warm, rewarding, multilayered learning experience. Thank you!

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Anonymous
5.0 2 weeks ago
Anonymous completed this course.
it was the second online course that I took and at first I hesitated because the first one was a total disaster, it was boring with long videos and dull backgrounds and nothing but a lecturer who stood there and did nothing but read from a piece of paper, this course now changed my perspective and proved my hesitations wrong, it was awesome! the videos were not that long and were divided perfectly, the incorporated songs, stories, movies clips and paintings made the experience even more exciting, and the material was easy to catch on with the help of all what I mentioned above. can't wait for other courses like this one!

Tank you for making this experience possible and best of luck with works to come

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Shirley P
5.0 2 weeks ago
Shirley completed this course.
The course HOPE was totally thought-provoking and insightful to me. I very much appreciated the broad variety of materials used all along the course - from movie scenes, to songs and literature sequences. It was a pleasure to get to learn about politics and society through the glance of existentialism. The study of contemporary issues and the large amount of examples provided - both consensual and controversial ones - greatly contributed and strengthened my understanding of the discussed topics. Overall, I am very happy to have taken the course, and would warmly recommend it to my peers.
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Anonymous
5.0 2 weeks ago
Anonymous is taking this course right now.
Through the HOPE course, fundamental questions about life, love, art, belief and more are presented in engaging, interactive and multi-disciplinary formats, rendering these themes accessible to a wider audience. These debates and discussions should not be limited to full-time academic circles, and HOPE brings them to bear on contemporary problems and challenges, encouraging reflection and creative thinking that everyone can and should engage with and enjoy.
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Jeff A
5.0 2 weeks ago
Jeff is taking this course right now, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
This is refreshingly different approach to politics, placing human wants and hopes at the center and using that as a springboard to give fresh and real meaning to a much desired path to enabling real political change.

Uriel Abulof keeps himself in the background allowng his students (and sometimes his family) to lead the way into wider discussions. It's a pity that the courses I took (long ago) as a student did not employ a simialr approach.
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Anonymous
4.0 2 weeks ago
Anonymous completed this course.
I think this course is very enlightening. I found it interesting, you can tell a lot of thought was invented in every subject, a lot of good references wether it's movies, art, songs etc.

I think some of the lessons were quite long, the videos continued sometimes for ever and because the subjects are very complicated and sensitive it's hard to follow through... But I defenetly will recommend this course.
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Anonymous
5.0 6 days ago
Anonymous completed this course.
I experienced HOPE a bit like the excellent books “Sapiens” and “Deus” by Yuval Noah Harari. There were not that many things that I had not heard before but the magic is how it is linked together to bring fresh and new insight, and so lively. The enthusiasm of Uriel (teacher) is contagious. I also loved how art (pictures, music and movie clips) are used to pin the topics to memory (it worked for me).
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Michal R
5.0 2 weeks ago
Michal completed this course.
The course is great, intresting and inspiring. The lessons were Significant. One can learn a lot from them.

I also like the discussions and the concept of the gallery.

There is one thing i would had if i could:

Maybe it will be good to talk also (not only) about examples from the daily life in the videos content, i felt sometimes that the content is too much "up there" ...

Good job! keep going

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Anonymous
5.0 2 weeks ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Very interesting course that puts politics into a complex and yet clean perspective you don’t see often. The main theme, existentialism, puts the private sphere and the social-political sphere under fresh and fair review. Starting from the simple and plausible foundations, i.e. what being human means, we build a powerful reflection and observation on our private and political lives.
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Anonymous
5.0 2 weeks ago
Anonymous is taking this course right now.
A wonderful and thought provoking course! Existentialism is a philosophical tradition often viewed as dealing with individualistic matters and neglecting the political. Prof. Abulof masterfully shows the interdependence or even fusion of these two domains, the individualistic and the collective or the private and the political. I highly recommend this course!
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Anonymous
5.0 4 days ago
Anonymous completed this course.
I really enjoyed this course. It is wonderful tour through some of the big questions, and is engagingly presented, with plenty of pointers to the ideas of the existential philosophers. Find out whether you are taking advantage of your true freedom as a human being, or whether you are simply following the crowd, like most of us!
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Anestis K
5.0 6 days ago
Anestis completed this course.
This is a wonderful course on existentialism. It succeeds in combining philosophical ideas with popular culture through music, giving students an opportunity to appreciate the spectrum of existentialism. The instructor presents the material in a very engaging way. Without a doubt it is a course worth taking.

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Anonymous
5.0 a week ago
Anonymous is taking this course right now.
The trailer was so far-out, that i had to check it out, and all i can say is that i wish my regular university courses were anything like this one! it's hard for me to be patient even during ted talks, that sometimes feel too long, but so far all the lectures i watched really got me hooked.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Anonymous
5.0 2 weeks ago
Anonymous completed this course.
The course was thought provoking and very interesting and informative. I liked all the movie clips and song clips that were well fit in the lectures and Uriel is an outstanding lecturer(!!) that made it very enjoyable. I often discussed topics from the course with my friends :)

Thanks
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Anonymous
5.0 6 days ago
Anonymous completed this course.
The course was well thought out and well

Organized. I especially liked how the video clips and music were used to stimulate discussion. I think you could add some short required essays to be read and discussed. This might help place the concepts in historical context and enrich the course.
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Anonymous
5.0 4 days ago
Anonymous completed this course.
A tour de force. Magnificent in its scope and delivery. There are references in the course to keep me going for a lifetime. The presenter is knowledgeable and charismatic and I shall, in future, listen to the words of popular music with more attention. It's been great fun.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Anonymous
5.0 2 weeks ago
Anonymous completed this course.
The course was very informative, attractive, educational and fun. I truly enjoyed studying and learning those subjects through the course.

This course felt like the start of the journey to reveal my own truths, and I'm glad I took it.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
  • 1

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