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HOPE: Human Odyssey to Political Existentialism

Princeton University via edX


In this course, we look for answers to seemingly unsolvable queries: Why breathe? Why breed? Why bleed? What justifies continuing, creating, and killing lives? Seeking answers to these thorny questions, Princeton University and Tel Aviv University have joined hands to create a unique online course that delves into the depths of the human condition and its politics.

Human Odyssey to Political Existentialism (HOPE) is a journey into the human condition and its politics, turning to existentialism for guidance. The course explores, on both individual and political levels, the following themes: Human / nature, identity & authenticity, freedom, reflection, happiness, death & dread, meaning, morality & ethics, truth & trust, God & religion, alienation & love, and finally—hope.”

Most philosophers ask “what is the good life?” and answer "to feel good, or to be good, or to do good." Existentialism asks “what is life good for?” and traces the answers that people, in their lived experience, give—to foster our own.

HOPE is a richly interdisciplinary course anchored in political science and philosophy. It also draws on history, sociology, psychology, and economy—synthesizing theoretical insights with empirical findings, both vintage and novel. HOPE shows that science and art can create a wonderful synergy when studying—indeed foregrounding—our humanity.

HOPE employs novel technologies in ways that enhance—not drain—our humanity and our ability to turn from “power politics” to “purpose politics,” cultivating creative, courageous, civil choices—the gist of existential politics.

In HOPE, you will find:
  • Animated talks, interviews and student discussions
  • Exploration of key concepts and figures—thinkers, artists, and politicians—both ancient and modern
  • A host of fascinating questions to probe alone, and together, with friends and in class
  • Myriad multimedia features, including various forms of art (painting, prose and poetry, cinema, tv, and music)
  • An invitation to choose between several edifying projects, including a personal journal and a collective newspaper

HOPE has been created in collaboration with Tel Aviv University.

Taught by

Uriel Abulof

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4.9 rating, based on 234 reviews

Start your review of HOPE: Human Odyssey to Political Existentialism

  • Very intriguing and entertaining course weaving the viewer through the realms of philosophy, politics, art, literature, cinema, and music. Enjoyed the ideas and questions presented and the ways that they were. The primary purpose of this *odyssey* is to get you to think - to introspect and reflect upon your life and our world. And in that regard, it succeeds entirely.
  • Everaldo De Oliveira completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    This is a course with an innovative approach and a deep reflection. With a brilliant organization and exposition of topics, we are immersed in relevant issues of our time, analyzing concepts underlying our human existence. This course is a journey guided...
  • Sorcha Crowley

    Sorcha Crowley is taking this course right now, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    This course is one of the richest and most thought-provoking courses I've taken. It combines philosophy, arts and politics to challenge our notions on a variety of topics ranging from identity, love, hope to alienation, death, god and many more. The underlying...
  • Donny Astor

    Donny Astor completed this course.

    I finished the course HOPE, offered by Princeton (Edx). I completed 30 other MOOC before taking this one. This was the Captsone of the previous 30 MOOC. The title of the course itself draws you in like a magnet. It has 2 Names ! 1.) HOPE. 2.) Human...
  • So much material to read and consider. I feel like I have a better understanding of humanity and life after considering the works of some of the greatest thinkers of all time!

    The final chapter, Hope, was particularly relevant to me as we studied the picture of Hope and heard the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. it is true that life and people bring disappointment which can be very hard to live with, and that hope and fear are two sides of the same coin. Yet it is hope that keeps us alive, working towards doing good.
  • Exhilarating to say the least, this course will put you in the driver seat of your own destiny in search of the years of your studies and contemplations in asking that existential question: who am I, what am I, and why am I hear to say the few, but there are many more meanings to ask and answer, in the Hope, that everyone who talks the course will discover a meaning about there self, knowing and not having to make the statement: IS THAT ALL THERE IS TO MY EXISTENCE? and with that Good Luck. Virgil. ICT_TA-53.
  • Profile image for David Venegas
    David Venegas
    I sincerely believe this course deserves a 5 star rating. The amount of knowledge you can gather from it is impressive, not only from historical events or philosophy but from yourself as well. The connections made between words said by influential people throughout the ages is smoothly put together and easy to understand. All the lectures and readings where enjoyable for those eager to seek some new knowledge, even if you already know about some of the topics discussed. I truly recommend this course.
  • Maria Ortiz completed this course.

    This course HOPE: Human Odyssey To Political Existentialism has ignited my interest in philosophy and political science. It has lead a path to self-discovery as well. Existentialism is finding meaning and purpose in this imperfect world. It is a philosophical...
  • Anonymous
    This course is a masterclass at... Hope. Surprising, I suppose. But in all fairness, most of us don't think about it too often - and here, we get some amazing insight into philosophy, despair, freedom, religion and love. Personally, this resonated with me profoundly - and suited my reading preferences well. Very much recommended.
  • Anonymous
    אם לסכם במילה אחת את הקורס, הנאה.

    קצת מוזר להשתמש במילה הנאה המשמשת ביום יום בעיקר לתיאור חווית פיזיות מענגות, בייחוד שהקורס עוסק בשאלות הקיומיות והעמוקות של הנפש, חופר ואפילו מכאיב בלי רחמים, ומכריח אותנו .להתייצב מול השאלות הגדולות של חיינו ולהישיר להן מבט

    אך דווקא משום כך אני מסכם את הקורס במילה הנאה, מכיוון שבסופו הרגשתי כמו אחרי ריצה קשה ומתישה, השרירים כואבים והלב דופק בפראות, אך תחושת הסיפוק של העמידה באתגר מסיבה הנאה מעין רוחנית.

    ככה הרגשתי בסוף הקורס, שעמדתי במשימה קשה שדחיתי אותה שנים רבות מפחד לעסוק בה, אבל הצלחתי לה ואני מרגיש במקום טוב יותר. כמובן שאצטרך להמשיך ולהעמיק חקר, אבל את מסע אלף הצעדים כבר התחלתי, וכולי תקווה שהוא לעולם לא ייפסק.

    תודה על חוויה מופלאה
  • Denis OSullivan is taking this course right now.

    Absolutely outstanding! I have taken many many courses, both online and in class, this is one of the best, most provocative, most interesting, most insightful. Uriel is a fantastic lecturer and teacher, but more than that, he has clearly spend a huge...
  • Vizencia Ana Trindade
    É um sonho com uma dimensão sem tamanho fazer parte de uma universidade tão conceituada. Princeton é um sonho.
  • Anonymous
    HOPE was one of the most emotionally stimulating courses I have ever taken. From the very beginning, when I read the syllabus, all I had in my head was a feeling of "Finally, I'm home." I was shaking and almost in tears because these were a dozen themes...
  • Anonymous
    Wow. This course was simply excellent. Filled to the brim with philosophy, art, politics, and music, it allows you to ponder and wrestle with some of the most basic assumptions and thoughts you have on morality, freedom, humanity and more. As someone...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    first ı started this course ı dont except too much thing. ı am at the carantine and ı was trying to find something to improve my english and adds me anything about being a human cause ı think especially in that time of the world we have to recall what...
  • Anonymous
    I really enjoyed the course and learned a lot. The huge collection of relevant art and modern music included was entertaining and thought-provoking, and it was a privilege to have so much philosophy set in the context of cultural and political developments...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    No doubt it won the number one course. This course is amazing. It gave me lots of "wow" moments. The combination between music, art, poetry, science and philosophy was enriching , powerful and pleasurable. some anecdotes... - when Tori Amos came with...
  • Profile image for Ramakrishna Mission Sevashrama , Kankhal
    Ramakrishna Mission Sevashrama , Kankhal
    Samar from India, Am a student now done my Online course “HOPE” from the University of Princeton UK. Earlier to this completed quite a few on EDx platform, they were all different like Corporate Finance, Quantum Mechanics of Molecular Structures, The...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    This is by far the most interesting , fascinating course I have ever had in my entire 18 years of my life. As a IB diploma student, our curriculum have a somewhat similar course called TOK (theory of knowledge), but HOPE transcend knowledge, and guided us towards something greater. Truth, power, love, freedom, liberty, morality, trust, and of course hope itself, these are what made us human, what we are living for, and what makes life so complex. Mr. Uriel Abulof is the best teacher/professor i never had, as I’m planning to apply to Princeton next year, I hope I will finally have the chance to do research with him, learn from him, not through screens, but face to face, human to human. I love this course!
  • Profile image for Naga Radhika Govindan
    Naga Radhika Govindan
    I thoroughly enjoyed the course. It was thought provoking and extremely relevant to the lives that we live. Through the course I have learnt a lot about myself. It seemed to me as much a journey of self discovery as it was a journey of humaness of humanity over the ages.

    The course was also challenging and the instructor was clear. The assignments were interesting and though I could have finished the course much earlier, I took my time, over six months as I picked a calm and serene time to listen to the lectures to give them my undivided attention.

    I have also downloaded the videos as I see myself going to them again and again, as it has a wealth of information and insight.

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