Philosophy | Introduction to Ethics
P140 | 4582 | Kirchner


Topic: The Good Life

You think life is good, right?  But are you living the Good Life?
Would you like to learn how?  Do you want to learn what kind of Good
Life results from the pursuit of pleasure?  Or would you rather
learn to restrain your desires by developing your reason?  For many
thousands of years Philosophy has attempted to give a clear account
of what it means to live the Good Life - in this course we will put
such attempts to the test.  Can we find a Philosophy of the Good
Life that resonates with our modern times, and that we would want to
follow?  What would we require of such an account?

This is a course in moral philosophy, but if a unique stripe.We will
be approaching philosophy from a particular vantage point -
attempting to figure out what sort of Good Life certain kinds of
philosophy try to attain for their followers, and whether such an
approach to philosophy can be recommended to us.

In order to evaluate "philosophy as a way of life", we will do two
main things in this course.  The first half will be spent studying
three schools of Ancient Greek Philosophy - Stoicism, Epicureanism,
and Skepticism.  By looking at the theories, methods, amd practices
of these three competing philosophies of the Good Life we will
develop a set of criteria for what is required of philosophy to make
a case for a way of life.  The second part of the course will then
be for us to take this schema to various modern arguments for the
Good Life and to evaluate both how they measure up, and whether the
ancient criteria is useful in such a context.  Can an account of the
Good Life be given in the Modern context?  Would such an account
have similar requirements as the ancient conceptions?  How do we
need to refine the criteria to account for post-Enlightenment
rationalism?  The modern philosophers we may consider include
Spinoza, Montaigne, Rousseau, Goethe, Emerson, Dostoyevsky,
Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Marx, Mill and Camus.

Grading will be equally based on section discussion and
participation, three papers, and a final exam.

Required texts are The Good Life by Guignon and Hellenistic
Philosophy, Introductory Readings by Inwood and Gerson.