13 Introduction

Exploring Axiology

Module Introduction


Human Value systems:

  • Ethics, Aesthetics
  • Social and Political Philosophy
  • Cross-Cultural Moral Schemata

This module will focus on the themes of understanding and exploring:

  • The purpose of moral responsibility
  • The foundations of human value theory
  • The various cultural attempts to formulate and define social justice

How Should One Live? Two Models

Introduction: Socrates and Arjuna

At the end of the first module, we met the philosopher Socrates. In this module, we will learn much more about why he is so important to the history of philosophy, through studying about his famous trial and defense, made immortal in the writings of Plato.

We will also meet Arjuna, a major character in India’s great epic, The Mahabharata , within which resides along philosophical interlude known as the Bhagavad Gita , (literally, Song of Manifestation or Song of God ). The Gita contains an extraordinary conversation between Arjuna and his charioteer, Krishna, who is also believed by many to be the Avatara (divine manifestation) of the deity Vishnu.

Here, our quest is to look at the origin of how early philosophers answered the question, “how is a person to act when faced with an ambiguous choice?” In other words, if there doesn’t appear to be an easy right or wrong answer, or one’s values clash, how should one act?

The case studies, one from Greece, the other India, present glimpses of two approaches to ethical decision making as we explore the foundations of practical philosophy. (1)

Learning Outcomes

  1. Recognize the relationships between cultural expressions and their contexts.
  2. Understand cultural expressions.
  3. Interpret and evaluate cultural artifacts and/or their contexts for significance.
  4. Recognize concepts in metaphysics, axiology, and epistemology and the context of their development.
  5. Comprehend the scope of philosophic inquiry and how beliefs are formed and justified especially within a particular cultural construct.
  6. Understand the principles of freedom, determinism and moral responsibility in human interaction.
  7. Identify the various attempts to formulate and define social justice.


Upon completion of this module the student will be able to:

  1. Describe the Socratic method and divine command theory.
  2. Identify Socrates, Arjuna, Bhagavad Gita, and describe how artha, kama dharma, and moksha are related to Hindu philosophy. (1)

Readings & Resources

Review Learning Unit 3 as a required reading. The following are additional resources.

Supplemental Materials

(Note: These materials are considered supplemental and thus are not used for assessment purposes)

Assignments & Learning Activities

  • Review Introduction
  • Review Readings and Resources
  • Review Learning Unit
  • Participate in Module 3 Discussion
  • Work on Assignment: Critical Analysis Essay


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