Why Humanity?

Central Issues

  • What is a "good" life? What is the place of love, friendship, religion, pursuit of reason and human excellence in one's identify and meaning of life? What are our limitations?
  • Where is the balance between self-interest and common good? Or, can they be reconciled? How should we participate in the society and interact with the others?
  • What is an ideal society? On what principles should it run on? How should people govern and be governed?

[Excerpts from Julie Chiu, "Introduction", In Dialogue with Humanity: Textbook for General Education Foundation Programme.]

In Dialogue with Humanity is one of two courses that make up CUHK's new General Education Foundation Programme, an innovative curriculum that has been developed for junior students as part of the University's expanded four-year academic programme. Two keywords in the course title reveal the method and goal of learning. Dialogue implies learning through (dia) the use of words and reason (the two basic meanings of logos)—by drawing out meanings from writers' and thinkers' own words, and by evaluating them in class discussions and writings. Humanity implies understanding what it is that makes us human—by reviewing our existing values and by developing aspirations as individuals and as social beings.

You are offered the present course because whatever your major area of studies, you also major in life as a human being; whatever profession you will take up, you may contribute better and be happier if you work with care and understanding of yourself and of others as human beings.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, students will be better able to:

  • recognize major ideas that shape contemporary views of good life and good society;
  • read and discuss primary texts of the humanities with confidence;
  • evaluate the validity of different approaches to good life and good society from multiple perspectives;
  • relate arguments and views expressed in the selected texts to contemporary human conditions; and
  • appreciate diverse values and make informed personal judgment on good life and good society.

Course Framework and Required Readings

Excerpts will be selected from various classics. The reading list is subject to review by the teaching team meeting. Individual teachers may add recommended readings as they see fit.