Modes of Inquiry

Fall 2017
INQUIRY 100-03 (8055)
Office: Maathai 414. Office hours by appointment
Course meets Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Gandhi 303B
Class Website

MODES Inquiry online


We must compel the “frozen circumstances to dance by singing to them their own melody”

Karl Marx, “Toward the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law”

This course examines the various ways of studying, knowing, and understanding information and experience.  Specifically, we will examine how knowledge is developed in different areas of study. 

Modes of Inquiry focuses on the AXIOMATIC (or formal deductive), PHILOSOPHICAL, HISTORICAL, OBSERVATIONAL (or empirical), IMAGINATIVE EXPRESSIVE, and INTERPRETIVE paradigms of discovery and understanding.  All parts of this course use modes of inquiry to explore selected topics and issues.

This course will help students approach the rest of the curriculum with a critical sense of the varying ways that knowledge and understanding are conceived and used by different disciplines.  When investigating problems and articulating insights, students will be able to choose among and combine different modes of inquiry.  Students will be able to understand the assumptions and limitations that underlie the various ways of inquiring used within disciplines, see that certain problems require using certain modes of inquiry, see that intellectual problems often require the use of many modes of inquiry, seeing the delineation and commonalities among the various modes of inquiry.

Course Objectives

Inquiry is the process of exploring questions.  Inquiry does not necessarily imply the finding of answers to those questions.  As we will discover, absolute answers, fact, or truth is elusive.  During the past two or three thousand years, humanity has developed a variety of different approaches to inquiry.  Some approaches are more suited to certain questions; some approaches are more suited to different questions.  These approaches have persisted and developed because they have been successful (to a greater or lesser extent) in fostering discovery and communication.  A person of broad education and intellectual breadth is distinguished by their ability to understand and use many different modes.

In this course, we will explore some important questions that humans have always asked. We will study SIX important modes or methods by which they have explored these questions.

1.    Axiomatic Inquiry:
This involves the method of argumentation, using inductive and deductive reasoning, logic, step by step reasoning and critical thinking. What counts as a good argument?  What is the format of an argument?

2.    Philosophic Inquiry:
This involves thinking about deep theoretical questions such as, What is reality? What is good? What is knowledge? What is reason? What are ethics?

3.    Observational/Scientific Inquiry:
This section deals with a presentation of some scientific paradigms and some critiques of science in general.  How do we come to understand the empirical world?  What is the substance of reality? What is the mechanism behind events? What can we observe? What can we measure?  Is objectivity possible?  What has been left out of the sciences?

4.    Historical Inquiry:
This section covers how we can look at history.  What happened in the past? How do we create the past?  What does the past have to do with how we view the world now?

5.    Interpretive/Social Scientific: 
This inquiry focuses on how it is that we view the world and "interpret" our experiences based on our perspectives in the social world.

6.    Imaginative Expressive:
This inquiry involves aesthetic contemplation of things such as art, beauty, and creativity, as well as new and contemporary paradigms for imagining the world.  Additionally, we will discuss what constitutes meaningfulness, and how to know what it looks like when it happens.

At the end of the course, you should have an understanding of the scope of human questioning, and the various ways in which people have tried to find answers to these questions.


1.  To understand the assumptions that underlie the various modes of inquiry used within and across disciplines
2.  To understand that every mode of inquiry has its own strengths and limitations in the exploration of a given question or problem
3.  To be able to sustain a line of argument using one or more modes of inquiry
4.  To be able to articulate the commonalities and/or differences among various modes of inquiry


   Complete common readings and any additional readings assigned specifically to you. Take notes.  Come to class prepared to raise challenging questions about the readings. Question the interpretative authority of the authors and also of your classmates and professor.
   Attendance to films screening and participation after.
    Daily class reflections: You must buy a pack of flashcards and bring them with you to every class. At the end of each class period, I will give you 10 minutes to reflect on the reading/s and discussion. On your flashcards, please write down a few notes on the topic of discussion and/or transcribe one or two quotes from the readings (make sure you include first and last name of the author, title of the essay or book, and page number).
   Create and maintain a blog. On your blog, you will write comments about the readings, class discussions, screenings, small assignments or other pertinent materials. You will also be asked to compose a creative piece (short film, music composition, etc.). The blog should be a creative space to share your ideas with others. Feel free to upload videos, music, photographs and links.
   3 Short Papers
   Abstract and outline of your final presentation
   Final presentation of blog: Blogs should be formatted in such a way that allows for a presentation in the classroom or small auditorium. Prepare an annotated bibliography of 10 sources.Students must have at least one source from each mode of inquiry
   Final Paper


CR    Common Readings- Every student needs to do the reading and prepare for
class discussion

ARS   Assigned Reading to 1 student: The student who is assigned the reading
must prepare a 10-minute presentation on the reading and prepare to
engage with other readings or films scheduled for that day.


Shelley, M. 2003. Frankenstein.  London: Penguin Classics.
Butler, O. 1979. Kindred. Boston: Beacon Press.


1st WEEK

Thursday, Sept. 7th
Levitin, Daniel J. The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload: “Organizing our homes: Where Things Can Start to Get Better.” (CR) 36 pgs
Harvey, David. “On Contradiction” “The Moving Contradictions: Technology, Work and Human Disposability”.  Seventeen contradictions and the end of Capitalism. (CR) 11 pgs.
Watts, Alan W. The Joyous Cosmology: Adventures in the Chemistry of Consciousness [selection, copy provided in class]. (AR) 3 pgs.

2nd Week

Tuesday, Sept. 12th
Freire, Paulo. “Society in Transition”. Education For Critical Consciousness.  (AR)
McAllister, Matthew. “Consumer culture and new media: commodity fetishism in the digital era”. Media Perspectives for the 21st Century. (CR)
FILM: Joe’s Violin by Kahane Cooperman 24 min.
Assignment: Create your blog and write your first entry by Sunday!

Thursday, Sept. 14th
Slouka, Mark. “Listening for Silence: Notes on the Aural Life”.  Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music. (AR)
Hegel, G.W.F. The Phenomenology of the Spirit. “Self-consciousness: The Truth of Self Certainty” and “Freedom of Self-Consciousness: Stoicism, Scepticism, And The Unhappy Consciousness” [selection]. (CR)
Ollman, Bertell. “Putting Dialectics to Work: The Process of Abstraction in Marx’s Method” (selection) (AR)
Deep Listening exercise [in class]

Opening Art Show Soka University Gallery: Artists Sebastián Chillemi and Pablo Salvadó.  Sleeping in the Forest. Dreamscapes of nature and society. Reception: 5:30- 7:30 p.m.

3rd Week

Tuesday, Sept. 19th
Marx. “Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844”. The Marx-Engels Reader. [selections]. (CR)
Stockfelt, Ola. “Adequate Modes of Listening”. Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music. (AR)
How Does a Turntable Work?

Assignment:  Second entry in your blog is due by Sunday!

Thursday, Sept. 21st
Brecht, Bertolt. Galileo. (CR) Scene 1 to 8.
Brecht, Bertolt. “The Epic Theater and Its Difficulties”. Brecht on Theatre: The Development of an Aesthetic. (AR)
Galilei, Galileo. Octavo: Sidereus Nuncius. (AR)

4th Week

Tuesday, Sept. 26th
Brecht, Bertolt. Galileo. (CR) Scene 9 to 13.
Manovich, Lev. “Principles of New Media.” The Language of New Media. (CR) 22 pages.

Thursday, Sept. 28th
Vertov, Dziga. “The Council of Three”, “The Birth of Kino-Eye”, “The Essence of Kino-Eye”, “On the Organization of a Creative Laboratory”, “The Man with A Movie Camera.” [CR]
FILM: Vertov, The Man with the Movie Camera [selection]
Deep Listening Exercise [in class]

SUA Community Cinema:  Presents Last Men in Aleppo, by Feras Fayyad. Pauling 216 7 p.m.
Assignment: Third blog entry- report on “Deep Listening Exercise” is due by Sunday!

5th WEEK

Tuesday, October 3rd
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein [first half of the novel] (CR)

Thursday, October 5th
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein [second half of the novel] (CR)
Halberstam, Judith. 1995. “Making Monsters: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein”. Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters. (AR)

6th WEEK

Tuesday, October 10th
Huxley, Aldous. The Doors of Perception (CR)
Reich, Steve. It’s Gonna Rain. [recording]
Hugh Le Caine “Dripsody” [recording]
Stockhausen “Gesang Der Junglinge” [Song of the Youths] [recording]
The Beatles “Tomorrow Never Knows” (1966) [recording]

Thursday, October 12th
Huxley, Aldous. The Doors of Perception (CR)
FILM: Magic Trip (2011) [film selection screened in class]
Eisler, Hanns and Theodor Adorno. “The Politics of Hearing”. Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music. (AR)

Assignment:  Fourth blog entry is due on Sunday!

7th WEEK

Tuesday, October 17th
Dery, Mark. Flame Wars: The Discourse of Cyberculture: “Black to the Future: Interviews with Samuel R. Delany, Greg Tate and Tricia Rose.” (AR)
RECORDING: Sun Ra and His Arkestra, Jazz In Silhouette.

Thursday, October 19th
FILM: The Last Angel of History by John Akomfrah (45 minutes)

SUA Community Cinema: Presents Shalom Italia by Tamar Tal Anati  Community Cinema, 7
p.m. Puling 216

Assignment: FIRST SHORT ESSAY is due on Brightspace by midnight on Sunday!!!

8th WEEK

Tuesday, October 24th
Bilger, Burkhard. “The Possibilian”. The New Yorker. 4/25/2011 (CR)
FILM: The Brain with David Eagleman: What is reality? BBC.
Malabou, Catherine. What Should We Do with Our Brain?: “The Central Power in Crisis.” (AR) 23 pgs.

Thursday, October 26th
FILM: The Last Angel of History, dir. John Akomfrah (1996) 45 min.
RECORDING: A Love Supreme by John Coltrane
Assignment: Fifth blog entry is due on Sunday! Brief description of your final project.

9th WEEK

Tuesday, October 31st
Fanon, Frantz. “The Fact of Blackness”. Black Skin, White Masks. (CR)
Assignment: SECOND SHORT essay is due!
Thursday, November 2nd
Fanon, Frantz. “The Fact of Blackness”. Black Skin, White Masks. (CR) (discussion continues)
Class discussion of final projects!

Community Cinema Presents: Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary by John Scheinfeld. Pauling 216 7 p.m.

10th WEEK

Tuesday, November 7th
Cage, John. “The Future of Music: Credo”. Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music. “Silence.  (CR)
Oliveros, Pauline. “Some Sound Observations”. Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music. (AR)
RECORDINGS: Carlos, Wendy. Switched on Bach (1968), Sonic Seasonings (1972)

Thursday, November 9th
Szwed, John F. Space is The Place: The Lives and Times of Sun Ra. (CR)
VIDEO: Sun Ra Night Music (1989)

FILM: Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise, by Robert Mugge

Assignment: Albums

11th WEEK

Tuesday, November 14th
Presentation: Albums

Thursday, November 16th
Cage, John. “Lecture on Nothing”.
RECORDINGS: Riley, Terry. In C [recording]

12th WEEK

Tuesday, November 21st
Butler, Octavia E. Kindred First half of the novel (CR)

Thursday, November 23rd
Continue reading Kindred.

13th WEEK

Tuesday, November 28th
Butler, Octavia E. Kindred (CR) Discussion of the novel

Thursday, November 30th
      Discussion final projects

14th WEEK

Tuesday, December 5th
Winter, Alison. Memory: Fragments of a Modern History.
RECORDINGS: Feldman, Morton. Rothko Chapel.
Reynols & Pauline Oliveros. Pauline Oliveros in the Arms of Reynols

SUA Community Cinema Presents: I’m Not Your Negro by Raoul Peck, Pauling 216, 7 p.m.

Thursday, December 7th
Assignment: Sixth blog entry is due by Sunday!!

15th WEEK


Bauman, Zygmunt. 2003. Liquid Love: On the Frailty of Human Bond. New York: Polity.

Bilger, Burkhard.  2011. “The Possibilian.” The New Yorker.

Brecht, Bertolt. 1966. Galileo. New York: Grove Press.

Cage, John. 2004. “The Future of Music: Credo.” Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music. London: Continuum.

1961. “2 Pages, 122 Words on Music and Dance.” Silence: Lecture and Writings By John Cage.

Middeltown: Wesleyan University Press. 1961. “Lecture on Nothing”. Silence: Lecture and Writings By John Cage. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press.

Carlos, Wendy.1968. Switched on Bach. [recording]

Chanan, Michael. 1995. Repeated Takes: A Short History of Recording and Its Effects on Music. London: Verso.

Chaplin, Charles. 1936. Modern Times. [film]

Charters, Ann. Ed. 2003. The Portable Sixties Reader. New York: Penguin Compass.

Cox, Christoph and Daniel Warner. Ed.2004. Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music. London: Continuum.

Eisler, Hanns and Theodor Adorno. 2004. “The Politics of Hearing.” Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music. London: Continuum.

Ellwood, Alison and Alex Giney. 2011. Magic Trip [film]

Fanon, Frantz. 1994. Black Skin, White Masks. New York: Grove Weidenfeld.

Feldman, Morton. 1991. Rothko Chapel. UC Berkeley Chamber Chorus [recording]

Fjellestad, Hans. 2004. Moog [film]

France, David.2012. How to survive a Plague [film]

Freire, Paulo.1974. “Society in Transition”. Education for Critical Consciousness. London: Bloomsbury.

Frenkel, Nestor.2004. Buscando a Reynol. [film]

Guzman, Patricio. Nostalgia de la Luz [film]

Halberstam, Judith. 1995. Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters. “Making Monsters: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.” Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Harding, Sandra.2008. Sciences from Below: Feminisms, Postcolonialities, and Modernities. “The Incomplete first Modernity of Industrial Society”. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Harvey, David. 2014. Seventeen contradictions and the end of Capitalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2005. A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hegel, G. W. F. 1977. Phenomenology of the Spirit. Translated by A.V. Miller. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hendy, David.2013. Noise: A Human History of Sound and Listening. New York: Harper and Collins.

Huxley, Aldous.1954. The Doors of Perception. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers.

Jelin, Elizabeth.“The Minefields of Memory”.

Leary, Timothy. 2003. “Turning on the World.” The Portable Sixties Reader. New York: Penguin Compass.

Marker, Chris. La Jetée [film]

Marx, Karl.1978. The Marx-Engels Reader. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Nancy, Jean Luc.2007. Listening. New York: Fordham University Press.

Oliveros, Pauline.2005. Deep Listening: A Composer’s Sound Practice. Lincoln: iUniverse.

Ollman, Bertell.2003. Dance of the Dialectic: Step in Marx’s Method. Urbana: University of Chicago Press.

Reich, Steve. 1965. It’s Gonna Rain [recording]

Reynols & Pauline Oliveros.

2000. Pauline Oliveros in the Arms of Reynols [recording]

Riley, Terry.2009. In C [recording]

Ross, Alex. 2007. The Rest is Noise. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Singer, Peter. 1983. Hegel: A Very Short Introduction. London: Oxford University Press.

Shelley, Mary. 2003. Frankenstein. London: Penguin Classics.

Sterne, Jonathan. 2003. The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Wolf, Tom. 1968. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. New York: Farrar, Straus & Girou


Tomás F. Crowder-Taraborrelli
Meeting times: M-F 1:00-4:00 p.m.
Office hours: M 4-5 p.m., Maathai 414

“The Enduring Questions of Humanity”

Introduction to Core Curriculum

A two-course sequence, Core explores a range of issues related to the mission statement of the university, including its commitment to values such as peace, human rights, and the creative coexistence of nature and humanity. Core also provides an introduction to the various ways of knowing that characterize the major divisions of the undergraduate curriculum, thereby laying the foundation for the interdisciplinary and cross-cultural study that underlies Soka education. In this exploration, Core courses stress an understanding of the social and historical contexts necessary to make meaningful comparisons among cultural traditions.

Upon completing the Core, student-learning outcomes are:

* To demonstrate knowledge of the commonalities and differences of the human experience from multiple (historical/cultural/disciplinary) perspectives
* To critically evaluate this knowledge in relation to their own lives
* To develop their ability to speak and write effectively about their evaluation of this knowledge

Building on a set of common readings, individual members of the faculty help shape the core through reading selections drawn from their special training, expertise, and interests.

Books you need to purchase in the SUA bookstore

Bhagavad-Gita:  The Song of God
Confucius, The Analects
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
Lucretius, On the Nature of Things
The Upanishads:  Breath of the Eternal  [in the bookstore]


CORE 1 is a Pass/No-Pass class, but you may obtain a letter-grade by formally requesting it by the end of the 2nd day of class. Narrative Assessments will also be given along with your final grade.


1st essay, 4 pages      25%
2nd essay, 4 pages      25%
3rd essay, 6 pages      35%
Short oral presentation 15%

Special Needs

Soka University is firmly committed to providing whatever assistance necessary to aid in the learning process.  Those students with special needs are strongly urged to present the appropriate documentation to the Instructor immediately so that the instructor can make the necessary arrangements.


Monday, August 14
Introduction to the course/syllabus.
Introduction to Lao-Tzu, Tao Te Ching. First 41 sections.
E. Cioran. “Thinking against oneself.” The temptation to
exist. Richard Howard-Susan Sontag-Eugene Thacker. Arcade Pub. 2012 (15 pages).
Discussion of upcoming Essay #1 (DUE on Sunday, Aug. 23rd)

HOMEWORK: Next 40 sections of Lao-Tzu, Tao Te Ching.

Tuesday, August 15
Discussion of Lao-tzu (finish)
Screening of sequence of Rivers and Tides
Introduction to Confucius

HOMEWORK: Confucius Analects, Ch. 1-4, 7, 9, 12-13

Wednesday, August 16
Discussion of Confucius Analects
Screening of sequence of Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams

HOMEWORK: The Upanishads:  Breath of the Eternal [Katha (pp. 13-25), Isha (pp. 26-28)]

Thursday, August 17
Discussion of The Upanishads.

HOMEWORK: Bhagavad-Gita:  The Song of God [Chapters I, II, III (pp. 30-49)]

Friday, August 18
Discussion of Bhagavad-Gita:  The Song of God [Chapters I, II, III (pp. 30-49)]

HOMEWORK: Aristotle’s “Metaphysics.” J. Ackrill. A New Aristotle Reader. Princeton University Press, 1988.

Sunday, August 20
ASSIGNMENT DUE: Essay #1 Due at noon.  

Monday, August 21
Discussion of Aristotle’s “Metaphysics ” (from Book I (A) to Book
VIII (H)) and upcoming Essay #2.
Weiss, F. G. Hegel’s Critique of Aristotle's Philosophy of
Mind. Martinus Nijhoff, 1969. (recommended reading)

HOMEWORK: Finish reading Aristotle’s “Metaphysics.”

Tuesday, August 22
Discussion of Aristotle’s “Metaphysics.”
Introduction to Antigone and Greek Tragedy.
FILM: La stanza del figlio (The Son’s Room), Nanni Moretti, 2002.

Wednesday, August 23
Discussion Antigone.

HOMEWORK: Antigone

Thursday, August 24
Discussion Antigone
Epicurus. “Letter to Herodotus.” The Art of Happiness.
Trans. George K. Strodach. Penguin Books, 2012.

HOMEWORK: Epicurus. “Letter to Herodotus” and Lucretius Books I, II

Friday, August 25
Discussion of Epicurus. “Letter to Herodotus”
Discussion of Lucretius Books I, II.

Lucretius Book III.

Sunday, August 27
ASSIGNMENT DUE: Essay #2 due at noon.


Monday, August 28
8:15 a.m. (meet at Ikeda library steps) Getty Field Trip

HOMEWORK: Look over notes of Getty Field Trip

Tuesday, August 29
Discuss oral presentation assignment
Discussion of upcoming Essay #3.

Wednesday, August 30
In-class film screening: Patricio Guzman’s Nostalgia for the Light.

HOMEWORK: Work on Oral Presentations

Thursday, August 31
Oral Presentations in-class.

HOMEWORK: Bring a reading to class that relates to one of the texts we have read

Friday, September 1
Oral Presentations if needed