Courses and Curriculum
Human beings are different from other animals. The structures of nonhuman animal life are largely instinctual and genetically controlled. The human animal, in contrast, seems constantly beckoned beyond the safe confines of the pack, lured beyond the herd by our reason, creativity, and freedom. We are the animal with ability not just to mate but to risk falling in love, the capacity not just to die but to sacrifice ourselves for the good of others.
Being human entails a certain kind of freedom to use language and create culture. Since the dawn of human culture the meaning, paradoxes, and possibilities of being human have been explored in poems, theologies, and scientific hypotheses by authors as diverse as Homer, Aquinas, and Darwin, to name just a few. Across the ages, thoughtful human beings have explored the contradictions and mysteries of being human in ways that continue to shape our understanding of ourselves and our living intellectual tradition.
The Interdisciplinary Honors Program at Loyola University Chicago integrates coursework from several disciplines to give students opportunities to explore and question what being human might mean. According to Plato, Socrates believed that the vital purpose of education is to free a person from the bondage of unexamined opinions. This struggle to become free leads us to question that which we thought we knew about ourselves and the world around us, for what we thought were settled answers often turn out to be questions themselves. Perhaps all of this is part of being human: living with and reflecting on life’s deepest questions, resisting easy answers, and dwelling with mystery.