Philosophical Anthropology with Professor Predrag Cicovacki

By Pam Reponen


A philosophical inquiry into what constitutes "humanity," as viewed in relationship to metaphysical, religious, political, moral and aesthetic questions, and in terms of the impact of culture in shaping this understanding



Three short, critical reflection papers about Holy Cross-organized events related to the course. Three five-to-eight page papers, based on the class readings. (Students may also complete an academic journal of self-discovery for an optional grade.)



Strength to Love, by Martin Luther King Jr.; Facing the Extreme: Moral Life in the Concentration Camps, by Tzvetan Todorov; Violence and the Sacred, by René Girard; To Have or To Be, by Erich Fromm; Albert Schweitzer's Ethical Vision: A Sourcebook, edited by Predrag Cicovacki


On the Day HCM Visited Class

Overview of the life of Leo Tolstoy by Evan Piercey '12 of South Salem, N.Y. Lecture/discussion on Chapters 1-3 of Tolstoy's The Kingdom of God Is Within You, considering: Tolstoy's views on the nature of man and society, derived from his understanding of the teachings of Jesus; his belief in the primacy of the individual over political hierarchical structures as the source of knowing how to live well; and his adherence to the principle of nonviolent resistance to evil-followed by reflection on the philosopher's vision as it relates to this year's political elections. Introduction of a weekly assignment based on The Book of Awakening, by Mark Nepo, designed to enable students to formulate their own life's priorities.


Professor Bio

A graduate of the University of Belgrade, Yugoslavia, Professor Cicovacki earned his Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Rochester in New York. He joined the Holy Cross faculty in 1991 and became a full professor in 2008. Specializing in the areas of ethics, problems of evil and violence, and the philosophy of war and peace, he focuses his research on the writings of Albert Schweitzer, Gandhi, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Immanuel Kant. Cicovacki is the author/editor of numerous publications, most recently, The Restoration of Albert Schweitzer's Ethical Vision and Dostoevsky and the Affirmation of Life.

Professor Quote

Explaining that philosophical anthropology had not previously been established as a recognized discipline, Cicovacki notes that the idea for the course emerged after reflecting on the positive impact programs such as Montserrat and the Appalachian Service Project have on Holy Cross students: "I wanted to teach a course that would focus on the students' lives, their search for their own humanity and the humanity of others," he says. "To accomplish this, I expose them to various readings by exemplary human beings and authors who themselves struggled with the same issues. Students look at reality through others' points of view and in the process discover for themselves what it means to pursue one's own humanity, collectively and individually."

Student Quote

Noting that the coursework challenges individual faith, fears, hopes and dreams, while providing a deeper understanding of what it means to be a human being and what prevents us from living in perfection, Maya Rock '13, of Sparta, N.J., notes: "Currently we are reading Tolstoy's Kingdom of God. From him, I have learned that looking from within, the inner core of the self and feeling God's presence is the driving force of humankind to live a good life. When we reach that point, we are at peace with the conflicts surrounding us in society, but also at peace with our soul. ... This course makes us think about our individual human lives in relation to others, and how all the small adjustments are significant to making a greater change overall in our lives."