Learn to Live Well

Wed, Jan 12

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. Understand Aristotle's "eudaimonist" view of happiness (as contrasted with "hedonism").
  2. Appreciate why it's so important, on the eudaimonist's view, to know our "function."
  3. Critically evaluate whether it's okay to "outsource" good life decision-making.

Read This:


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

APPLICATION ARTICLE (Access on "Persuall" via Canvas):

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):
    • Is it possible to learn how to live well? If so, is it more like acquiring some body of knowledge (like math or geography), or acquiring a skill (like carpentry or acting)?
    • The "Grant Study" (summarized in the Atlantic article) tries to identify traits correlated with "happiness" over the course of an individuals entire life. How useful is such data for those of us mapping out our own picture of the good life?

After you've finished today's reading, make sure you complete the reading quiz, which you can access through your section's Canvas page.


Watch This: