Further information on Fall 2019 courses


Ed Langerak: Mortality and the Meaning of Life

Expanded description and course texts:

We will read some philosophical essays, but most of the reading will consist of Leo Tolstoy’s
autobiographical Confession and his story The Death of Ivan Illich, Victor Frankl’s death camp
study, Man’s Search for Meaning, and Langdon Gilkey’s prison camp memoir, Shantung
Compound.  The restricted size of this seminar is meant to encourage discussion among the
participantsThus, although the readings are suggestions rather than demands, a good faith effort
to read them will make a significant contribution to the value of the class sessions.  There will be
weekly email messages about the discussions and readings.
Some new copies of the books will be available at Content Bookstore, but the edition and, in
Tolstoy’s case, the translation does not matter much.  Inexpensive (often less than $5 including
shipping) used copies can easily be obtained at any number of internet sites, such as:

ABEbooks: https://www.abebooks.com

Tolstoy’s Confession: https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?

Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning (NOT Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning): https://

Gilkey’s Shantung Compound: https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?

Alibris: https://www.alibris.com

Tolstoy’s Death of Ivan Illich: https://www.alibris.com/booksearch?

And, of course, Amazon sells everything: https://www.amazon.com

Do notice in our Sept 23 and 30 syllabus slots that you can obtain both of Tolstoy’s works for
free on the internet.



Schedule of classes (subject to modification)

Sept 16: Perspectives from secular humanism and traditional theism.

Read Bertrand Russell’s “A Free Man’s Worship,” available free: https://www3.nd.edu/
And David Swenson’s “The Transforming Power of Otherworldliness,” which will be sent to you
by email.

Sept 23: Tolstoy’s spiritual crisis and his decision.

Read his Confession, available free: http://www.classicallibrary.org/tolstoy/confession/index.htm

Sept. 30: Tolstoy’s Death of Ivan Illich.

Available free: https://manybooks.net/book/141872/read#epubcfi(/6/2[titlepage]!/4/1:0)

Oct 7: Frankl’s experiences in Auschwitz.

Read as much of Man’s Search for Meaning as you can.

Oct 14: Frankl’s conclusions, and Gilkey’s introduction to a Japanese prison camp in China.

Finish reading Frankl and some associated readings; Begin Gilkey’s Shantung Compound.

Oct 21: Gilkey’s experiences.

Finish as much of Gilkey as you can.

Oct 28: Gilkey on living a meaningful life.

Finish Gilkey and some associated readings.

Nov. 4: Remaining questions and debated answers.

The suggested readings will be provided and will depend on questions raised in earlier