National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Published in Honors in Practice, volume 2. Copyright 2006 National Collegiate Honors Council.


“Which [do we] love more, the small island of [our] so-called knowledge or the sea of infinite mystery?” (Karl Rahner). “Great Questions” are those that radically alter our perceptions of physical reality, of self, and/or of our place in the universe. For example, Jacob Bronowski observed of Einstein that he was “a man who could ask immensely simple questions” from whose answers he could “hear God thinking.” Einstein’s theories of special and general relativity each originated from simple questions and Gedanken (thought) experiments that can be readily grasped by ordinary persons. It is the answers that are extraordinary. The course will examine selected interrelated “great questions” from the domains of science and philosophy as well as their impact upon human perceptions of self and of physical reality.