Due to delay in publication of the text, the online course has been postponed until further notice. However, you can still read about the upcoming course below.
A MULTICULTURAL, INTERDISCIPLINARY APPROACH
Offering a unique educational experience, both the new book and online course are also intended inspire, as participants are taken on a journey that traces the early roots of holistic thinking back into the ancient world. The Greek ‘holos’ from which the term holism is derived means ‘complete, whole, entire, all’. Yet unbeknownst to many, a rich legacy of whole-system thinking lies buried even deeper amongst the priceless treasures of ancient Kemet (Egypt).
Presenting a survey and analysis of interrelated, key ideas in Platonic, Presocratic, Pythagorean & Egyptian schools of thought, ultimately the text and online course open a clear conceptual dialogue between ancient Egyptian and Greek philosophy. Although the focus is upon ancient Greek & Egyptian ideologies, a major goal of The Ancient Art of Holistic Thinking is to provide a universal model from which to interpret holistic philosophies in general (whether ancient or modern), and to promote a multicultural educational approach.
Focused from a philosophic lens the textbook and online course are interdisciplinary in nature, linking the fields of Egyptology and ancient philosophy. It is also of particular relevance to Africana studies, multicultural approaches to philosophy, and art/aesthetics – more specifically those investigating the intersections of thought and image.
The survey of material presented progresses through methods of abstract analysis, early studies of the natural world, mathematical reasoning, as well as integrating archaeological data and an investigation of visual culture via art, symbol, myth, psychology, and religion. It therefore draws upon both linear, abstracted modes of thought as well as visual, spatial ways of conceiving and communicating – what are often colloquially termed ‘left’ and ‘right’ brain activities, respectively.
INTEGRATING THEORY & PRACTICE
In the ancient world philosophy was considered a way of life. Indeed within ancient Greece, the Academy of Plato upon which the western academic university model is derived, a psyche (soul) centered approach was designed to cultivate harmony in body, mind and emotions. Following the ideal of philosophy as a way of life, the new 12-14 week online course will integrate both theoretical (theoria) and practical components (praxis), and is intended to facilitate multi-sensory engagement.
Theoria – Structured as an online university course, a syllabus will be provided and the material will be organized into weekly learning modules and utilize a variety of multimedia. The instructional format will include:
- Regular reading & homework assignments
- Lecture content and outline notes
- Slides, recorded audio and video
- Visual images of art imagery, artifacts and archaeological content as relevant
- Online discussion forum posts to facilitate engagement, interaction & answer questions (similar to use of Blackboard via university systems).
Praxis – In order to actively engage the ancient teachings and see how they can be incorporated into our own pre-existing framework, further contemplation and introspection are required. Toward this end practical exercises will be assigned to assist with assimilating the content and further catalyze one’s thought process, including:
- Journal entries
- Exercises to learn to read and attune to the natural world
- Contemplation of symbolism and personal interpretation
- Incorporating ideas into your pre-existing framework in some way
By engaging the material more fully, one’s daily experience in the world itself can become a way of practicing and contemplating The Ancient Art of Holistic Thinking.
NOTE: Depending upon interest, live discussions and workshops may also be scheduled later in the year in various locales as feasible, and where there is sufficient demand.
GENERAL OUTLINE OF CONTENT
Written within an academic context the text has a distinctly formal tone and draws upon technical terms specific to philosophy and Egyptology. However, the teaching approach will be geared toward helping students digest and ground the conceptual material presented within their own frameworks.
The content of the course will follow the structure of the book. We will first define and formulate a universal model of holism as common ground, provide a general overview on the methodology and schools of philosophy being studied, then detail and explain how this framework is specifically articulated within:
- – Platonic philosophy (Plato as well as Neoplatonism)
- – Presocratic thought
- – Pythagorean doctrine of number (incorporates Neopythagorean thought)
- – Ancient Egyptian philosophy
In terms of chronology, the material in the text is organized in reverse historic order, since Greek philosophy is more familiar to many than Egyptian thought. Doing it this way builds on the clear conceptual framework of Plato, and using that as a foundational bridge gradually acclimates the reader to the increasingly dense symbolism of Presocratic, Pythagorean and ultimately the Egyptian philosophy texts.
The farther back in time we proceed, the texts become more esoteric or hidden, since many of the passages consist of fragments and are expressed largely through an embedded symbolic language. Those unfamiliar with the necessary background would lack the connections made elsewhere that help clarify and interpret the texts, yet which are pieced together and provided in the book.
Although each of these systems takes a distinct and unique approach to articulating a philosophy of holism, this multicultural, comparative study focuses upon the continued ideology of a holistic worldview, which transcends the boundaries of culture, dogma or historic periods.
There are no prerequisites mandated for the course. However, any study of philosophy requires the ability for in-depth analysis and contemplation. A glossary is included in the text to familiarize a general audience with key technical terminology specific to the disciplines of philosophy and Egyptology. The instructor will also recommend some background reading, to prepare those new to the material with a further foundation.
For those with prior background in these fields, both the text and online course provide a complement to traditional classes in ancient philosophy and Egyptology, by specifically investigating through the lens of holistic thought which yields unique insights.
Those new to holistic ideology will gain a firm foundation from which to further explore, while practitioners and theorists already versed in other philosophies of holism (eastern, western, ancient, contemporary or ‘New Age’) will be able to add an understanding of ancient Egyptian and Greek teachings into their repertoire.
Although structured for 12-14 weeks, part of the appeal of online study is the ability to proceed at one’s own pace and to adjust to work schedules or other obligations. Thus there will be a 2-week flexible allowance of time given at the end of the course within which to complete the assignments. Currently designed for independent study, there will be no grading. Yet similar to a Credit/No Credit course, a certificate of completion will be awarded to those who complete the majority of assignments for the term (to be specified in syllabus).
As the text was developed within a graduate academic context, the online course can be easily adapted to university requirements. It is equivalent to a 3-unit semester course which can be specifically tailored to undergraduate, graduate or continuing education needs if requested.
RECLAIMING ANCIENT WISDOM FOR A MODERN AGE
Modern cultures have only just begun to rediscover and practice greater awareness of whole-system thinking, particularly in regards to cultivating reverence for the natural world. In contrast, reverence for the environment, learning from natural patterns, and developing a harmonious relationship with nature were intrinsic to the ancient holistic worldview, which includes caring for our physical body, our psuche or soul (with physical, mental and emotional aspects) as part of nature.
While eastern philosophies such as yoga, Taoism and Buddhism have become popularized in the West in recent decades, as well as holistic mind-body approaches to well-being they espouse, the legacy of ancient Greek holistic philosophy (from which the term holism itself is derived) and ancient Egyptian philosophy in particular are much less familiar in mainstream, western culture.
The new book The Ancient Art of Holistic Thinking: Philosophies of Holism in Ancient Egypt & Greece and the online course both contribute to filling this gap in awareness.
WHAT YOU WILL LEARN
Although articulated in different ways, the ancient philosophy and language of holism is rooted in observing, closely studying, and learning to read and interpret universal patterns. Furthermore, the timeless and enduring worldview of whole-system thinking is inclusive rather than exclusionary. Each holistic model presented is complementary to the other, and together build a more complex and complete amalgamated holistic framework.
Through both the book and the online course The Ancient Art of Holistic Thinking, participants will learn the fundamentals of holistic thought as well as specific ways in which it was articulated in various schools of thought in the ancient world.
As with a live class, enrollment is limited so that the instructor can interact with students personally, answer questions, and participate in students’ learning process to some extent.
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