Pursue a Life of Contemplation

Mon, Apr 20

How does your intellect figure into the meaning of your life?  Is there a way of living that neither time, nor ill-health, nor bad luck could ever disrupt?  In this class, we will explore the benefits and drawbacks of the life of contemplation and puzzle through one of Aristotle's most surprising arguments.  We'll also consider whether we live in a cave.

By the end of this class session:

  1. You will be able to more deeply contrast the life of action with the life of contemplation.
  2. You will understand three arguments for the benefits of the life of contemplation over the life of action and will critically evaluate these arguments.
  3. You will consider different interpretations of what contemplation could mean in the good life, and decide if any figure in your philosophical apology.

Read This:


"On Contemplation" Nicomachean Ethics 10.5-10.7 (Aristotle)

"The Allegory of the Cave" Republic Book VII (Plato)


Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League (New Republic)

Do This:

Answer the following reflection questions in your journal:

  1. Do you think universities like Notre Dame do enough to promote the life of contemplation?  What is one argument Deresciwicz gives that elite universities do a bad job promoting the good life?  Do you agree or disagree with this argument?
  2. How would you describe a life of contemplation, given Aristotle's theory?

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