From εὐδαιμονία to Happiness
What does it mean to be happy and how can happiness be achieved? The ancient Greeks maintained that no man could be said to have attained happiness and well-being, what they called εὐδαιμονία, or eudaimonia, until he was dead! On the other hand, Sigmund Freud argued that happiness can only be experienced as brief moments of pleasure or relief and thus is ultimately fleeting. As these contrasting views might suggest, the questions of human joy, satisfaction, flourishing, and the good life have long been concerns of societies and scholars alike, leading to an astonishing variety of conclusions. In this course we will discuss happiness from a myriad of perspectives, ranging from philosophy, to popular culture, to current psychological research. We will consider arguments and evidence presented in empirical journal articles, essays, and literary and philosophical works, and will also utilize film and internet sources to extend our analyses. Possible sources include Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin’s Chronicle of a Summer, Werner Herzog's Happy People: A Year in the Taiga, David Foster Wallace’s A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, and Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener’s Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth.
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