Grasp Your Purpose I: Virtue Ethics

Mon, Aug 17

You can learn to solve a differential equation.  You can learn to ride a bike.  But is happiness something that can be learned?  And if so, how?  This class section will introduce the fundamental philosophical puzzle of God and the Good Life and discuss Aristotle's answer to it.  

We have three main in-class learning goals.  By the end of lecture today you will:

  1. Be able to compare Eudaimonist approaches to happiness with hedonist approaches.
  2. Understand the key premises of Aristotle's function argument.
  3. Be able to give a personal example illustrating Aristotle's method of developing virtues and vices.


Read This:


Interactive Essay: Aristotle on Learning to Live Well (Nicomachean Ethics I.7, II.1-4)


What Makes Us Happy? (The Atlantic)

Do This:

Complete these steps before you come to class

  • Consider the following prompts (you may want to write responses to these in your journal or talk about them with a friend):
    • If you had to form an advisory board to help you plot out the good life, who would you put on it?  Why?
    • Reflect on the Atlantic article. Do you see any big picture themes emerging in the lives of those that end up happy vs. those that end up unhappy? How useful is this kind of data in helping you achieve happiness and plan a good life?
  • Optional: test yourself by taking a practice comprehension check. Click on the link corresponding to your section below. When prompted, enter your name and NDID (this should be a 9-digit number).
    1. Sullivan - Section 01 - MW
    2. Blaschko - Section 02 - TR
    3. Blaschko -Section 03 - MW
    4. Blaschko - Section 04 - MW


Watch This: