The notion of practical wisdom is one of Aristotle's greatest inventions. It has inspired philosophers as diverse as Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Elizabeth Anscombe, Michael Thompson, and John McDowell. Now a leading scholar of ancient philosophy offers a challenge to received accounts of practical wisdom by situating it in the larger context of Aristotle's views on knowledge and reality.
That happiness is the end pursued by practical wisdom is commonly agreed. What is disputed is whether happiness is to be found in the practical life of political action, in which we exhibit courage, temperance, and other virtues of character, or in the contemplative life, where theoretical wisdom is the essential virtue. C. D. C. Reeve argues that the dichotomy is bogus, that these lives are in fact parts of a single life, which is the best human one. In support of this view, he develops innovative accounts of many of the central notions in Aristotle's metaphysics, epistemology, and psychology, including matter and form, scientific knowledge, dialectic, educatedness, perception, understanding, political science, practical truth, deliberation, and deliberate choice. These accounts are based directly on freshly translated passages from many of Aristotle's writings. Action, Contemplation, and Happiness is an accessible essay not just on practical wisdom but on Aristotle's philosophy as a whole.
In The Age of Experiences, Benjamin Kline Hunnicutt examines how the advance of happiness science is impacting the economy, making possible new experience-products that really make people happy and help forward-looking businesses expand and develop new technologies. In today’s marketplace there is less interest in goods and services and more interest in buying and selling personal improvements and experiences. Hunnicutt traces how this historical shift in consumption to the “softer” technologies of happiness represents not only a change in the modern understanding of progress, but also a practical, economic transformation, profoundly shaping our work and the ordering of our life goals.
Based on incisive historical research, Hunnicutt demonstrates that we have begun to turn from material wealth to focus on the enrichment of our personal and social lives. The Age of Experiences shows how industry, technology, and the general public are just beginning to realize the potential of the new economy. Exploring the broader implications of this historical shift, Hunnicutt concludes that the new demand for experiences will result in the reduction of work time, the growth of jobs, and the regeneration of virtue—altogether an increasingly healthy public life.
Thomas Aquinas and Jean-Paul Sartre are usually identified with completely different philosophical traditions: intellectualism and voluntarism. In this original study, Stephen Wang shows, instead, that there are some profound similarities in their understanding of freedom and human identity.
Economists and theologians usually inhabit different intellectual worlds. Economists investigate the workings of markets and tend to set ethical questions aside. Theologians, anxious to take up concerns raised by market outcomes, often dismiss economics and lose insights into the influence of market incentives on individual behavior. Mary L. Hirschfeld, who was a professor of economics for fifteen years before training as a theologian, seeks to bridge these two fields in this innovative work about economics and the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas.
According to Hirschfeld, an economics rooted in Thomistic thought integrates many of the insights of economists with a larger view of the good life, and gives us critical purchase on the ethical shortcomings of modern capitalism. In a Thomistic approach, she writes, ethics and economics cannot be reconciled if we begin with narrow questions about fair wages or the acceptability of usury. Rather, we must begin with an understanding of how economic life serves human happiness. The key point is that material wealth is an instrumental good, valuable only to the extent that it allows people to flourish. Hirschfeld uses that insight to develop an account of a genuinely humane economy in which pragmatic and material concerns matter but the pursuit of wealth for its own sake is not the ultimate goal.
The Thomistic economics that Hirschfeld outlines is thus capable of dealing with our culture as it is, while still offering direction about how we might make the economy better serve the human good.
Chronicling astonishing shifts in public attitudes toward reproduction, from the association of barrenness with sin in colonial times, to the creation of laws for compulsory sterilization in the early twentieth century, from the baby craze of the 1950s, to the rise in voluntary childlessness in the 1990s, to the increasing reliance on startling reproductive technologies today, Elaine Tyler May reveals the intersection between public life and the most private part of our lives—sexuality, procreation, and family.
More people than ever are going to graduate school to seek a PhD these days. When they get there, they discover a bewildering environment: a rapid immersion in their discipline, a keen competition for resources, and uncertain options for their future, whether inside or outside of academia. Life with a PhD can begin to resemble an unsolvable maze. In Behind the Academic Curtain, Frank F. Furstenberg offers a clear and user-friendly map to this maze. Drawing on decades of experience in academia, he provides a comprehensive, empirically grounded, and, most important of all, practical guide to academic life.
While the greatest anxieties for PhD candidates and postgrads are often centered on getting that tenure-track dream job, each stage of an academic career poses a series of distinctive problems. Furstenberg divides these stages into five chapters that cover the entire trajectory of an academic life, including how to make use of a PhD outside of academia. From finding the right job to earning tenure, from managing teaching loads to conducting research, from working on committees to easing into retirement, he illuminates all the challenges and opportunities an academic can expect to encounter. Each chapter is designed for easy consultation, with copious signposts, helpful suggestions, and a bevy of questions that all academics should ask themselves throughout their career, whether at a major university, junior college, or a nonacademic organization. An honest and up-to-date portrayal of how this life really works, Behind the Academic Curtain is an essential companion for any scholar, at any stage of his or her career.
Bound for Beatitude is about St. Thomas Aquinas’s theology of beatitude and the journey thereto. Consequently, the work’s topic is the meaning and purpose of human life embedded in that of the whole cosmos. This study is not an antiquarian exercise in the thought of some sundry medieval thinker, but an exercise of ressourcement in the philosophical and theological wisdom of one of the most profound theologians of the Catholic Church, one whom the Church has canonized, granted the title “Doctor of the Church,” and for a long time regarded as the common doctor. This exercise of ressourcement takes its methodological cues from the common doctor; hence, it is an integrated exercise of philosophical, dogmatic, and moral theology. Its specific theological topic, the ultimate human end, perfect happiness, beatitude, and the journey thereto—stands at the very heart of St. Thomas’s theology. Far from being passé, his theology of beatitude is of urgent pertinence as the crisis of humanity and of creation and the exile of God seems to approach its apogee.
By way of a presentation, interpretation, and defense of Thomas Aquinas’s doctrine of beatitude and the journey thereto, Bound for Beatitude advances an argument based on four theses: (1) The loss of a theology of beatitude has greatly impoverished contemporary theology. In order to succeed and flourish, theology must recover a sound teleological orientation. (2) In order to recover a sound teleological orientation, theology must recover metaphysics as its privileged instrument. (3) Thomas Aquinas provides a still pertinent model for how theology might achieve these goals in a metaphysically profound theology of beatitude and the beatific vision. Finally, (4) Aquinas’s rich and sophisticated account of the virtues charts the journey to beatitude in a way that still has analytic force and striking relevance in the early twenty-first century.
The third and fourth books of Cicero's Tusculan Disputations deal with the nature and management of human emotion: first grief, then the emotions in general. In lively and accessible style, Cicero presents the insights of Greek philosophers on the subject, reporting the views of Epicureans and Peripatetics and giving a detailed account of the Stoic position, which he himself favors for its close reasoning and moral earnestness. Both the specialist and the general reader will be fascinated by the Stoics' analysis of the causes of grief, their classification of emotions by genus and species, their lists of oddly named character flaws, and by the philosophical debate that develops over the utility of anger in politics and war.
Margaret Graver's elegant and idiomatic translation makes Cicero's work accessible not just to classicists but to anyone interested in ancient philosophy and psychotherapy or in the philosophy of emotion. The accompanying commentary explains the philosophical concepts discussed in the text and supplies many helpful parallels from Greek sources.
In this highly praised new translation of Boethius’s The Consolation of Philosophy, David R. Slavitt presents a graceful, accessible, and modern version for both longtime admirers of one of the great masterpieces of philosophical literature and those encountering it for the first time. Slavitt preserves the distinction between the alternating verse and prose sections in the Latin original, allowing us to appreciate the Menippian parallels between the discourses of literary and logical inquiry. His prose translations are lively and colloquial, conveying the argumentative, occasionally bantering tone of the original, while his verse translations restore the beauty and power of Boethius’s poetry. The result is a major contribution to the art of translation.
Those less familiar with Consolation may remember it was written under a death sentence. Boethius (c. 480–524), an Imperial official under Theodoric, Ostrogoth ruler of Rome, found himself, in a time of political paranoia, denounced, arrested, and then executed two years later without a trial. Composed while its author was imprisoned, cut off from family and friends, it remains one of Western literature’s most eloquent meditations on the transitory nature of earthly belongings, and the superiority of things of the mind. In an artful combination of verse and prose, Slavitt captures the energy and passion of the original. And in an introduction intended for the general reader, Seth Lerer places Boethius’s life and achievement in context.
Consider this paradox: Ecologists estimate that it would take three planets Earth to provide an American standard of living to the entire world. Yet it is that standard of living to which the whole world aspires.
In Consuming Desires, award-winning writer and social commentator Roger Rosenblatt brings together a brilliant collection of thinkers and writers to shed light on the triumphs and tragedies of that disturbing paradox. The book represents a captivating salon, offering a rich and varied dialogue on the underlying roots of consumer culture and its pervasive impact on ourselves and the world around us. Each author offers a unique perspective, their layers of thoughts and insights building together to create a striking, multifaceted picture of our society and culture.
Jane Smiley probes the roots of consumerism in the emancipation of women from household drudgery afforded by labor-saving devices and technological innovation; Alex Kotlowitz describes the mutual reinforcement of fashion trends as poor inner-city kids and rich suburban kids strive to imitate each other; Bill McKibben discusses the significance, and the irony, of defining yourself not by what you buy, but by what you don't buy.
The essays range widely, but two ideas are central to nearly all of them: that consumption is driven by yearning and desire -- often unspoken, seemingly insatiable -- and that what prevents us from keeping our consumptive impulse in check is the western concept of self, the solitary and restless self, entitled to all it can pay for.
As Rosenblatt explains in his insightful introduction: "Individualism and desire are what makes us great and what makes us small. Freedom is our dream and our enemy. The essays touch on these paradoxes, and while all are too nuanced and graceful to preach easy reform, they give an idea of what reform means, where it is possible, and, in some cases, where it may not be as desirable as it appears."
An ambitious history of desire in Anglo-American religion across three centuries.
The pursuit of happiness weaves disparate strands of Anglo-American religious history together. In The Delight Makers, Catherine L. Albanese unravels a theology of desire tying Jonathan Edwards to Ralph Waldo Emerson to the religiously unaffiliated today. As others emphasize redemptive suffering, this tradition stresses the “metaphysical” connection between natural beauty and spiritual fulfillment. In the earth’s abundance, these thinkers see an expansive God intent on fulfilling human desire through prosperity, health, and sexual freedom. Through careful readings of Cotton Mather, Andrew Jackson Davis, William James, Esther Hicks, and more, Albanese reveals how a theology of delight evolved alongside political overtures to natural law and individual liberty in the United States.
"Words,"writes Chuang Tzu, "are for catching ideas; once you've caught the idea, you can forget the words." In Do Nothing, author Siroj Sorajjakool lends us some of his insightful words to help us all "catch" the provocative ideas of one of China's most important literary and philosophical giants—one who emerged at a time when China had several such giants philosophizing on Tao or "the Way."
Though his thinking dates back to the fourth century, Chuang Tzu's Tao has profound implications for our modern lives. He welcomes an existence that is radically removed from the image of normalcy that society often projects, wherein the individual must always strive for more, always seek greater productivity, and always try to better him or herself and his or her place in life. Chuang Tzu would posit that the definitions of normalcy, success, and happiness are arbitrarily assigned and that our rigid and unquestioning adherence to these so-called "norms" leads to existential restlessness and unease. Instead of striving, he would say, be still. Instead of acquiring, embrace nothingness. Instead of seeking to understand the limitlessness of the universe during your brief and extremely limited existence, enjoy the wonder of it.
Siroj Sorajjakool suggests that when we can embrace nothingness, we undergo a spiritual transformation that liberates us to see more clearly and truly find ourselves. He offers a very personal exploration of Chuang Tzu's Tao, first in its historical and literary context, and then in the context of our twenty-first century existence. What emerges is a liberating and highly readable meditation on the many lessons we can "catch" from Chuang Tzu on how we view our aspirations, our joys and sorrows, our successes and failures, and what it means to be a worthwhile person.
An Ecology of Happiness
Eric Lambin University of Chicago Press, 2012 Library of Congress GF51.L3513 2012 | Dewey Decimal 304.2
We know that our gas-guzzling cars are warming the planet, the pesticides and fertilizers from farms are turning rivers toxic, and the earth has run out of space for the mountains of unrecycled waste our daily consumption has left in its wake. We’ve heard copious accounts of our impact—as humans, as a society—on the natural world. But this is not a one-sided relationship. Lost in these dire and scolding accounts has been the impact on us and our well-being. You sense it while walking on a sandy beach, or in a wild, woody forest, or when you catch sight of wildlife, or even while gardening in your backyard. Could it be that the natural environment is an essential part of our happiness? Yes, says Eric Lambin emphatically in An Ecology of Happiness. Using a very different strategy in addressing environmental concerns, he asks us to consider that there may be no better reason to value and protect the health of the planet than for our own personal well-being.
In this clever and wide-ranging work, Lambin draws on new scientific evidence in the fields of geography, political ecology, environmental psychology, urban studies, and disease ecology, among others, to answer such questions as: To what extent do we need nature for our well-being? How does environmental degradation affect our happiness? What can be done to protect the environment and increase our well-being at the same time? Drawing on case studies from Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America, Lambin makes a persuasive case for the strong link between healthy ecosystems and happy humans.
Unique in its scope and evenhanded synthesis of research from many fields, An Ecology of Happiness offers a compelling human-centered argument that is impossible to overlook when we marvel at murmurations of starlings or seek out the most brilliant fall foliage: nature makes our steps a little lighter and our eyes a little brighter. What better reason to protect an ecosystem or save a species than for our own pleasure?
School reform and accountability tests have been hotly debated for decades, but the goal of reform and accountability has not. Most agree that the main problem with contemporary education is that it fails to adequately prepare students with the “21st century skills” needed to find jobs and promote national competitiveness in the global economy. Tony Armstrong challenges both the morality and the consequences of pushing this purpose of education. He says it is immoral because it neglects our children’s deepest aspiration—happiness—and treats them as mere cogs in the economic machine. Dr. Armstrong shows how methods of well-being based on happiness research—mindfulness, gratitude, perspective—can greatly improve kids’ chances to feel better in the present and to live happier lives in the future. And the kindergarten-through-college “happiness pedagogy” he presents would also be a superior way to teach those “21st century skills.”
Eternal Life and Human Happiness in Heaven treats four apparent problems concerning eternal life in order to clarify our thinking about perfect human happiness in heaven. The teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas provide the basis for solutions to these four problems about eternal life insofar as his teachings call into question common contemporary theological or philosophical presuppositions about God, human persons, and the nature of heaven itself. Indeed, these Thomistic solutions often require us to think very differently from our contemporaries. But thinking differently with St. Thomas is worth it: for the Thomistic solutions to these apparent problems are more satisfying, on both theological and philosophical grounds, than a number of contemporary theological and philosophical approaches.
Christopher Brown deploys his argument in four sections. The first section lays out, in three chapters, four apparent problems concerning eternal life—Is heaven a mystical or social reality? Is heaven other-worldly or this-worldly? Is heaven static or dynamic? Won’t human persons eventually get bored in heaven? Brown then explains how and why some important contemporary Christian theologians and philosophers resolve these problems, and notes serious problems with each of these contemporary solutions. The second section explains, in five chapters, St. Thomas’ significant distinction between the essential reward of the saints in heaven and the accidental reward, and treats in detail his account of that in which the essential reward consists, namely, the beatific vision and the proper accidents of the vision (delight, joy, and charity). The third section treats, in five chapters, St. Thomas’ views on the multifaceted accidental reward in heaven, where the accidental reward includes, among other things, glorified human embodiment, participation in the communion of the saints, and the joy experienced by the saints in sensing God’s “new heavens and new earth.” Finally, section four argues, in four chapters, that St. Thomas’ views allow for powerful solutions to the four apparent problems about eternal life examined in the first section. These solutions are powerful because, not only are they consistent with authoritative, Catholic Christian Tradition, but they do not raise any of the significant theological or philosophical problems that attend the contemporary theological and philosophical solutions examined in the first section.
"Elders brings to his study an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the history of philosophy. Although he advises his readers not to look for any novel interpretations of Thomas, the book is full of surprises. Time and again, he offers a concise history of the moral issue under consideration...A more authoritative introduction to the moral philosophy of Aquinas is not likely to be found. In fact, it is a delight to read." - Philosophy in Review
In this uplifting new book, author Stephen G. Post explores the mysteries and the wonder of Godly love—the all important love that is at once personal, unconditional, unlimited, generative, and omnipresent. The title alludes to Isaiah 35, to the way in which Godly love is said to plant a rose in our hearts precisely when we feel most like a dry desert with no more love of our own to give.
Post draws on his own life experiences as well as his work at the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, as he intersperses personal anecdotes with spiritual truths and research on human happiness. In the process, he defines the concept of Godly love and illustrates how important it can be in our lives—not only emotionally and spiritually, but physically as well. "Godly love," he writes, "is the only foundation in the universe that we can really lean on."
We all have deserts in life, so we all need Godly love. Without it, the downward slide to cynicism, hostility, and cool indifference can be all too easy. These meditations on the subject will nurture our confidence in the power of a love that is greater than our own, when we need it most.
The Good Life
Yi-Fu Tuan University of Wisconsin Press, 1986 Library of Congress BJ1481.T83 1986 | Dewey Decimal 170
“[Tuan] explores answers to an old and unanswerable question: how should we live? . . . The Good Life is a little anthology of good feeling, touchstones of joy . . . These pleasures make the book a pleasure, not of conviction or belief, but of conversation’s meandering exploration.”—New York Times Book Review
“Tuan, after all, is one of the few geographers who can be read for pleasure, and by the public as well as by the professional. But read not merely for pleasure, nor yet to mark, learn, and inwardly digest. Rather, consider Tuan’s challenge to identify your concept of the good life, and then try to construct that life.”—Environment and Planning D: Society and Space
Just as Aristotelian metaphysics provided a new basis for the natural theology of Aquinas’s time, so too, positive psychology provides a basis for a natural moral theology in our own time. this book marshals the empirically verifiable findings of positive psychology that show the wisdom of the Christian tradition. Christian warnings about the dangers of greed, coveting a neighbor’s goods (social comparison), and pride find an empirical verification. Likewise, positive psychology vindicates the wisdom of Christian teaching on the importance of forgiveness, of gratitude, of humility, and of serving one’s neighbor. moreover, positive psychology also can be a service to Christian believers by helping them in their struggles with willpower, by providing new motivations for prayer, and by helping them identify their signature strengths. Finally, this book argues, in a variety of ways, that it is folly to think that even the best of psychology can serve as a replacement for Christianity.
Harleman, Ann University of Iowa Press, 1994 Library of Congress PS3558.A624246H36 1994 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
In Ann Harleman's remarkable debut collection, men and women of extraordinary passions look for and sometimes find the hidden heart of ordinary life. Testing themselves and each other, they search for ways to connect. "Understanding," says the troubled voyeur-narrator of "Imaginary Colors," "is the booby prize"; these characters go for experience. Reckless explorers of inner space, they try the limits of their lives.
A gravely ill woman seeks forgiveness from her grown-up daughters for an adulterous past which she does not really regret. A boy watches anxiously—and enviously—while his brother flaunts an interracial love affair in front of their dangerous father. In strike-torn Warsaw during the rise of Solidarity, an American professor and his Polish housekeeper reach toward each other from their respective cages of loneliness. A girl's determined pursuit of her first sexual experience brings her more, and less, than she bargained for.
Harleman combines a clear eye with a generous heart, revealing her characters-misguided, selfish, loving, brave—through a compassionate, often humorous probing of their inner and outer worlds. In "It Was Humdrum" a system analyst hires a detective to find the mother who left him as an infant, while his young wife leaves him daily for afternoon trysts with her Puerto Rican lover. A woman assaulted by a teenage gang escapes physically unharmed but forever changed. The past overtakes a woman who has married for love, not of her husband, but of his small daughter. A greeting card poet pursued by stereotyped images of happiness flees from the woman he loves and the brother he never knew he had.
The supple language of these twelve stories—wise, funny, delighting in the sensuous—makes us feel the beauty and terror of a fully lived life. Harleman's characters, whether they succeed or fail, show us the way to a deeper exploration of our own lives.
“The ultimate of human happiness is to be found in contemplation.” In offering this proposition of Thomas Aquinas to our thought, Josef Pieper uses traditional wisdom in order to throw light on present-day reality and present-day psychological problems. What, in fact, does one pursue in pursuing happiness? What, in the consensus of the wisdom of the early Greeks, of Plato and Aristotle, of the New Testament, of Augustine and Aquinas, is that condition of perfect bliss toward which all life and effort tend by nature? In this profound and illuminating inquiry, Pieper considers the nature of contemplation, and the meaning and goal of life.
Happiness and the Law
John Bronsteen, Christopher Buccafusco, and Jonathan S. Masur University of Chicago Press, 2014 Library of Congress K380.B765 2015 | Dewey Decimal 340.115
Happiness and the law. At first glance, these two concepts seem to have little to do with each other. To some, they may even seem diametrically opposed. Yet one of the things the law strives for is to improve people’s quality of life. To do this, it must first predict what will make people happy. Yet happiness research shows that, time and time again, people err in predicting what will make them happy, overestimating the import of money and mistaking the circumstances to which they can and cannot adapt.
Drawing on new research in psychology, neuroscience, and economics, the authors of Happiness and the Law assess how the law affects people’s quality of life—and how it can do so in a better way. Taking readers through some of the common questions about and objections to the use of happiness research in law and policy, they consider two areas in depth: criminal punishment and civil lawsuits. More broadly, the book proposes a comprehensive approach to assessing human welfare—well-being analysis—that is a valuable alternative to the strictly economically based cost-benefit analyses currently dominating how we evaluate public policy. The study of happiness is the next step in the evolution from traditional economic analysis of the law to a behavioral approach. Happiness and the Law will serve as the definitive, yet accessible, guide to understanding this new paradigm.
Happiness and Utility brings together experts on utilitarianism to explore the concept of happiness within the utilitarian tradition, situating it alongside earlier eighteenth-century thinkers and working through some of its developments at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. Drawing on a range of philosophical and historical approaches to the study of the central idea of utilitarianism, the chapters provide a rich set of insights into a founding component of ethics and modern political and economic thought, as well as political and economic practice. In doing so, the chapters examine the multiple dimensions of utilitarianism and the contested interpretations of this standard for judgment in morality and public policy.
The chapters are written in celebration of the career of Professor Fredrick Rosen. They follow his work by concentrating on Bentham and the two Mills, and by the subtleties and sophistication of their understanding of one of the most alluring but elusive ideas of modern times. The volume will be of interest not only to admirers of Rosen but to academics and postgraduate students in disciplines such as philosophy, political theory, the history of political thought, legal theory and legal history.
Happiness and Wisdom contributes to ongoing debates about the nature of Augustine's early development, and argues that Augustine's vision of the soul's ascent through the liberal arts is an attractive and basically coherent view of learning, which, while not wholly novel, surpasses both classical and earlier patristic renderings of the aims of education.
Separated by millennia, Aristotle and Sigmund Freud gave us disparate but compelling pictures of the human condition. But if, with Jonathan Lear, we scrutinize these thinkers’ attempts to explain human behavior in terms of a higher principle—whether happiness or death—the pictures fall apart.Aristotle attempted to ground ethical life in human striving for happiness, yet he didn’t understand what happiness is any better than we do. Happiness became an enigmatic, always unattainable, means of seducing humankind into living an ethical life. Freud fared no better when he tried to ground human striving, aggression, and destructiveness in the death drive, like Aristotle attributing purpose where none exists. Neither overarching principle can guide or govern “the remainder of life,” in which our inherently disruptive unconscious moves in breaks and swerves to affect who and how we are. Lear exposes this tendency to self-disruption for what it is: an opening, an opportunity for new possibilities. His insights have profound consequences not only for analysis but for our understanding of civilization and its discontent.
“Here, at last, is a book about what happiness really means, and why it often eludes us in our stressed-out, always-on lives.” —Arianna Huffington, Founder and CEO, Thrive
A young philosopher and Guinness World Record holder in pull-ups argues that the key to happiness is not goal-driven striving but forging a life that integrates self-possession, friendship, and engagement with nature.
What is the meaning of the good life? In this strikingly original book, Adam Adatto Sandel draws on ancient and modern thinkers and on two seemingly disparate pursuits of his own, philosophy and fitness, to offer a surprising answer to this age-old human question.
Sandel argues that finding fulfillment is not about attaining happiness, conceived as a state of mind, or even about accomplishing one’s greatest goals. Instead, true happiness comes from immersing oneself in activity that is intrinsically rewarding. The source of meaning, he suggests, derives from the integrity or “wholeness” of self that we forge throughout the journey of life.
At the heart of Sandel’s account of life as a journey are three virtues that get displaced and distorted by our goal-oriented striving: self-possession, friendship, and engagement with nature. Sandel offers illuminating and counterintuitive accounts of these virtues, revealing how they are essential to a happiness that lasts.
To illustrate the struggle of living up to these virtues, Sandel looks to literature, film, and television, and also to his own commitments and adventures. A focal point of his personal narrative is a passion that, at first glance, is as narrow a goal-oriented pursuit as one can imagine: training to set the Guinness World Record for Most Pull-Ups in One Minute. Drawing on his own experiences, Sandel makes philosophy accessible for readers who, in their own infinitely various ways, struggle with the tension between goal-oriented striving and the embrace of life as a journey.
Happiness in the Nordic World
Christian Bjørnskov University of Wisconsin Press, 2021 Library of Congress HN540.A8B56 2021 | Dewey Decimal 306.0948
Denmark is consistently among the countries with the happiest and most satisfied populations, and it regularly places at the very top with the rest of the Nordic countries in international surveys. Why do the Nordic countries as a whole constitute the happiest region in the world?
Many experts attribute the region's high levels of happiness to factors such as greater relative national wealth and well-functioning institutions. Yet, a number of other countries in Europe and parts of Asia share those qualities and rank far lower in life satisfaction. Others credit the region's high levels of happiness to its welfare state model, but these have changed considerably over time—and Iceland does not share this feature.
Instead, economist Christian Bjørnskov argues that the most important factor to come out of international comparisons is the importance of social trust—the ability to trust other people one does not know personally. The populations in three of the five countries are also characterized by a very strong sense of personal freedom. These two key factors contribute to a fuller and richer life. Bjørnskov ends by discussing to what extent these factors can be exported to other parts of the world.
Ziyad Marar Reaktion Books, 2003 Library of Congress BF575.H27M37 2003 | Dewey Decimal 152.42
The dream of a happy life has preoccupied thinkers since Plato, and in modern times it has become one of the signature tunes of our age – the rise of therapists, gurus, New Age cults and the use of Prozac are familiar indicators of how ubiquitous the pursuit of happiness has become within Western culture.
The Happiness Paradox examines how this modern obsession has evolved. Ziyad Marar shows how the state of mind we seek remains highly elusive, and much of the energy devoted to searching for happiness is wasted or even self-defeating. The author argues that happiness is a deceptively simple idea that will always be elusive because it is based on a paradox: the conflict between feeling good while simultaneously being good. It is the conflict, for example, between the desire to break rules, for adventure or self-expression, and the need to follow them to gain the approval of society; these tensions permeate what Freud called the two central parts of a happy life: love and work.
Drawing on a wide and varied range of sources – from psychology, philosophy, history, popular novels, television and films – this book will engage all those who are looking for meaning within their lives. It challenges the conventional search for happiness, while suggesting a bolder way to live with one of the central paradoxes of our time.
Hardship and Happiness
Lucius Annaeus Seneca University of Chicago Press, 2014 Library of Congress B615.E5 2014 | Dewey Decimal 188
Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 BCE–65 CE) was a Roman Stoic philosopher, dramatist, statesman, and advisor to the emperor Nero, all during the Silver Age of Latin literature. The Complete Works of Lucius Annaeus Seneca is a fresh and compelling series of new English-language translations of his works in eight accessible volumes. Edited by Elizabeth Asmis, Shadi Bartsch, and Martha C. Nussbaum, this engaging collection helps restore Seneca—whose works have been highly praised by modern authors from Desiderius Erasmus to Ralph Waldo Emerson—to his rightful place among the classical writers most widely studied in the humanities.
Hardship and Happiness collects a range of essays intended to instruct, from consolations—works that offer comfort to someone who has suffered a personal loss—to pieces on how to achieve happiness or tranquility in the face of a difficult world. Expertly translated, the essays will be read and used by undergraduate philosophy students and experienced scholars alike.
Readers familiar with Castiglione's The Courtier will welcome this translation of Ellis Heywood's Il Moro, which also uses a conversation among friends as a vehicle for expressing philosophical points of view. Written by an Englishman in Italian, it now makes its first appearance in English translation since it was published in 1556.
In Il Moro Heywood constructs a presumably imaginary debate about the nature of true happiness between his great-uncle Sir Thomas More and six of More's friends. As each speaker presents his views, conflicting currents in Renaissance moral philosophy are made explicit. The merchant Laurence presents the cynical view that men are motivated solely by self-interest and thus seek riches as their greatest happiness; Charles, a dabbler in Neo-Stoicism, argues for virtue and the honor it confers; while Peter defines happiness as based on love, after the fashion of the Neo-Platonists. After these alternatives are dismissed, Leonard maintains that happiness is relative to the individual, Alexander opts for knowledge, and Paul holds forth on the theme that seeking happiness is the worst kind of vanity.
More then reconciles these antagonistic views from the standpoint of a Christian humanist. Happiness, says More, is to be found in the control of appetite by reason, that divine faculty in man which uses the things of this world as instruments for working out the full implications of one's relation to God.
Heywood's principal intention in composing this dialogue about happiness seems to have been to provide posterity with a loving memorial of one of England's greatest humanists. Roger Deakins, in his introduction, discusses the circumstances under which the work was written and sketches the philosophical background in classical, Thomistic, and Renaissance Italian literature. The original Italian text has been reproduced in the back of the volume.
This book includes guidance as well as information and inspiration. There are practical recommendations on how to perform acts of kindness in personal lives and at work, toward friends, colleagues, and family members—even with one's enemies. Suggestions are also offered on ways to encourage others to be kind so they, too, can experience the joy that results.
Law and Happiness
Edited by Eric A. Posner and Cass R. Sunstein University of Chicago Press, 2010 Library of Congress BJ1481.L275 2010 | Dewey Decimal 340.11
Since the earliest days of philosophy, thinkers have debated the meaning of the term happiness and the nature of the good life. But it is only in recent years that the study of happiness—or “hedonics”—has developed into a formal field of inquiry, cutting across a broad range of disciplines and offering insights into a variety of crucial questions of law and public policy.
Law and Happinessbrings together the best and most influential thinkers in the field to explore the question of what makes up happiness—and what factors can be demonstrated to increase or decrease it. Martha Nussbaum offers an account of the way that hedonics can productively be applied to psychology, Cass R. Sunstein considers the unexpected relationship between happiness and health problems, Matthew Adler and Eric A. Posner view hedonics through the lens of cost-benefit analysis, David A. Weisbach considers the relationship between happiness and taxation, and Mark A. Cohen examines the role crime—and fear of crime—can play in people’s assessment of their happiness, and much more.
The result is a kaleidoscopic overview of this increasingly prominent field, offering surprising new perspectives and incisive analyses that will have profound implications on public policy.
The sense that well-being remains elusive, transitory, and unevenly distributed is felt by the rich as well as the poor, and in all societies. To explore this condition of existential dissatisfaction, the anthropologist Michael Jackson traveled to Sierra Leone, described in a recent UN report as the “least livable” country in the world. There he revisited the village where he did his first ethnographic fieldwork in 1969–70 and lived in 1979. Jackson writes that Africans have always faced forces from without that imperil their lives and livelihoods. Though these forces have assumed different forms at different times—slave raiding, warfare, epidemic illness, colonial domination, state interference, economic exploitation, and corrupt government—they are subject to the same mix of magical and practical reactions that affluent Westerners deploy against terrorist threats, illegal immigration, market collapse, and economic recession. Both the problem of well-being and the question of what makes life worthwhile are grounded in the mystery of existential discontent—the question as to why human beings, regardless of their external circumstances, are haunted by a sense of insufficiency and loss. While philosophers have often asked the most searching questions regarding the human condition, Jackson suggests that ethnographic method offers one of the most edifying ways of actually exploring those questions.
The Makings of Happiness
Ronald Wallace University of Pittsburgh Press, 1991 Library of Congress PS3573.A4314M35 1991 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
Wallace’s poems cover the range of human experience: music, religion, sex, art, childhood, adolescence, nuclear war, illness, and death. But it’s in his wit and good humor, against undercurrents of sorrow and grief that best characterize his poetry: part Emily Dickinson, and part Harpo Marx; part Woody Allen, and part Robert Frost.
Surely everyone wants to know the source of happiness, and indeed, economists and social scientists are increasingly interested in the study and effects of subjective well-being. Putting forward a rigorous method and new data for measuring, comparing, and analyzing the relationship between well-being and the way people spend their time—across countries, demographic groups, and history—this book will help set the agenda of research and policy for decades to come.
It does so by introducing a system of National Time Accounting (NTA), which relies on individuals’ own evaluations of their emotional experiences during various uses of time, a distinct departure from subjective measures such as life satisfaction and objective measures such as the Gross Domestic Product. A distinguished group of contributors here summarize the NTA method, provide illustrative findings about well-being based on NTA, and subject the approach to a rigorous conceptual and methodological critique that advances the field. As subjective well-being is topical in economics, psychology, and other social sciences, this book should have cross-disciplinary appeal.
As the United States rushed toward industrial and technological modernization in the late nineteenth century, people worried that the workplace had become too competitive, the economy too turbulent, domestic chores too taxing, while new machines had created a fast-paced environment that sickened the nation. Physicians testified that, without a doubt, modern civilization was causing a host of ills—everything from irritability to insomnia, lethargy to weight loss, anxiety to lack of ambition, and indigestion to impotence. They called this condition neurasthenia.
Neurasthenic Nation investigates how the concept of neurasthenia helped doctors and patients, men and women, and advertisers and consumers negotiate changes commonly associated with “modernity.” Combining a survey of medical and popular literature on neurasthenia with original research into rare archives of personal letters, patient records, and corporate files, David Schuster charts the emergence of a “neurasthenic nation”—a place where people saw their personal health as inextricably tied to the pitfalls and possibilities of a changing world.
On the Happiness of the Philosophic Life presents Heinrich Meier’s confrontation with Rousseau’s Rêveries, the philosopher’s most beautiful and daring work, as well as his last and least understood. Bringing to bear more than thirty years of study of Rousseau, Meier unfolds his stunningly original interpretation in two parts.
The first part of On the Happiness of the Philosophic Life approaches the Rêveries not as another autobiographical text in the tradition of the Confessions and the Dialogues, but as a reflection on the philosophic life and the distinctive happiness it provides. The second turns to a detailed analysis of a work referred to in the Rêveries, the “Profession of Faith of the Savoyard Vicar,” which triggered Rousseau’s political persecution when it was originally published as part of Émile. In his examination of this most controversial of Rousseau’s writings, which aims to lay the foundations for a successful nonphilosophic life, Meier brings to light the differences between natural religion as expressed by the Vicar and Rousseau’s natural theology. Together, the two reciprocally illuminating parts of this study provide an indispensable guide to Rousseau and to the understanding of the nature of the philosophic life.
“[A] dense but precise and enthralling analysis.”—New Yorker
The Promise of Happiness is a provocative cultural critique of the imperative to be happy. It asks what follows when we make our desires and even our own happiness conditional on the happiness of others: “I just want you to be happy”; “I’m happy if you’re happy.” Combining philosophy and feminist cultural studies, Sara Ahmed reveals the affective and moral work performed by the “happiness duty,” the expectation that we will be made happy by taking part in that which is deemed good, and that by being happy ourselves, we will make others happy. Ahmed maintains that happiness is a promise that directs us toward certain life choices and away from others. Happiness is promised to those willing to live their lives in the right way.
Ahmed draws on the intellectual history of happiness, from classical accounts of ethics as the good life, through seventeenth-century writings on affect and the passions, eighteenth-century debates on virtue and education, and nineteenth-century utilitarianism. She engages with feminist, antiracist, and queer critics who have shown how happiness is used to justify social oppression, and how challenging oppression causes unhappiness. Reading novels and films including Mrs. Dalloway, The Well of Loneliness, Bend It Like Beckham, and Children of Men, Ahmed considers the plight of the figures who challenge and are challenged by the attribution of happiness to particular objects or social ideals: the feminist killjoy, the unhappy queer, the angry black woman, and the melancholic migrant. Through her readings she raises critical questions about the moral order imposed by the injunction to be happy.
In The Pursuit of Happiness Bianca C. Williams traces the experiences of African American women as they travel to Jamaica, where they address the perils and disappointments of American racism by looking for intimacy, happiness, and a connection to their racial identities. Through their encounters with Jamaican online communities and their participation in trips organized by Girlfriend Tours International, the women construct notions of racial, sexual, and emotional belonging by forming relationships with Jamaican men and other "girlfriends." These relationships allow the women to exercise agency and find happiness in ways that resist the damaging intersections of racism and patriarchy in the United States. However, while the women require a spiritual and virtual connection to Jamaica in order to live happily in the United States, their notion of happiness relies on travel, which requires leveraging their national privilege as American citizens. Williams's theorization of "emotional transnationalism" and the construction of affect across diasporic distance attends to the connections between race, gender, and affect while highlighting how affective relationships mark nationalized and gendered power differentials within the African diaspora.
Scholars have long debated the meaning of the pursuit of happiness, yet have tended to define it narrowly, focusing on a single intellectual tradition, and on the use of the term within a single text, the Declaration of Independence. In this insightful volume, Carli Conklin considers the pursuit of happiness across a variety of intellectual traditions, and explores its usage in two key legal texts of the Founding Era, the Declaration and William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England.
For Blackstone, the pursuit of happiness was a science of jurisprudence, by which his students could know, and then rightly apply, the first principles of the Common Law. For the founders, the pursuit of happiness was the individual right to pursue a life lived in harmony with the law of nature and a public duty to govern in accordance with that law. Both applications suggest we consider anew how the phrase, and its underlying legal philosophies, were understood in the founding era. With this work, Conklin makes important contributions to the fields of early American intellectual and legal history.
During the ’30s and ’40s, Hollywood produced a genre of madcap comedies that emphasized reuniting the central couple after divorce or separation. Their female protagonists were strong, independent, and sophisticated. Here, Stanley Cavell names this new genre of American film—“the comedy of remarriage”—and examines seven classic movies for their cinematic techniques and for such varied themes as feminism, liberty, and interdependence.
Included are Adam’s Rib, The Awful Truth, Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday, It Happened One Night, The Lady Eve, and The Philadelphia Story.
Work hard in school, graduate from a top college, establish a high-paying professional career, enjoy the long-lasting reward of happiness. This is the American Dream—and yet basic questions at the heart of this competitive journey remain unanswered. Does competitive success, even rarified entry into the Ivy League and the top one percent of earners in America, deliver on its promise? Does realizing the American Dream deliver a good life? In Redefining Success in America, psychologist and human development scholar Michael Kaufman develops a fundamentally new understanding of how elite undergraduate educations and careers play out in lives, and of what shapes happiness among the prizewinners in America. In so doing, he exposes the myth at the heart of the American Dream.
Returning to the legendary Harvard Student Study of undergraduates from the 1960s and interviewing participants almost fifty years later, Kaufman shows that formative experiences in family, school, and community largely shape a future adult’s worldview and well-being by late adolescence, and that fundamental change in adulthood, when it occurs, is shaped by adult family experiences, not by ever-greater competitive success. Published research on general samples shows that these patterns, and the book’s findings generally, are broadly applicable to demographically varied populations in the United States.
Leveraging biography-length clinical interviews and quantitative evidence unmatched even by earlier landmark studies of human development, Redefining Success in America redefines the conversation about the nature and origins of happiness, and about how adults develop. This longitudinal study pioneers a new paradigm in happiness research, developmental science, and personality psychology that will appeal to scholars and students in the social sciences, psychotherapy professionals, and serious readers navigating the competitive journey.
To dive deep into your inner life. To navigate its complexity and explore your story in depth. To discover who you are exactly—the courage you have when life breaks apart, how conscious you become in that process, and how rich you feel learning the meaning of your life. On a search for wholeness, Bobbe Tyler delves deep to find and tell her story—the trauma of familial mental illness, marriage and divorce, spiritual despair, accountability, addiction and the joy of recovery, surviving loss, and finally that which matters most: love in all its ways. The rewards of her wisdom belong not to her alone but, by way of her unflinching examination of life’s many paths, to all who have a story of their own to tell—who have faced a life-choice gone wrong, or met the peace that had always seemed just out of reach. This searing self-appraisal provides a model for those who seek to know themselves better and are willing to sound their depths to find their story in full.
Winner of a da Vinci Eye Medal for Superior Cover Design
Shortlisted for the 2010 Eric Hoffer Award’s Montaigne Medal
To dive deep into your inner life. To explore what matters most: wisdom, happiness, the pain of loss, self–accountability, aging, and more. Searching for Soul: A Survivor’s Guide is a breathtakingly honest case study: a self-examination resulting in the discovery of a meaningful life.
Bobbe Tyler blends her story with in-depth commentary, framing each chapter as a response to one of a set of questions, appended to the book, entitled The Harvesting Wisdom Interview. In her search for fulfillment, Tyler asks and answers the most difficult questions about the trauma of mental illness, divorce, financial and emotional despair. The rewards of this hard–won wisdom belong not to her alone but by way of her unflinching examination of life’s many paths, dead ends, and circuitous routes — to anyone who has faced a life–choice gone wrong — or known the indescribable recovery from addiction or abuse, or longed for the peace that seems just out of reach. This searing self–appraisal provides hope and fellowship for those who seek to know themselves better.
Still Here, Still Now
Robert Pack University of Chicago Press, 2008 Library of Congress PS3566.A28S75 2008 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
Robert Pack is one of America’s most eminent nature poets, and his virtuoso talents are on glorious display in Still Here, Still Now, his nineteenth volume of verse. With styles ranging from lyric to narrative, and themes stretching from biblical concerns to meditations on contemporary science, Pack’s poetry is composed in strongly rhythmic cadences and a diction that is direct and accessible. In four different sections of thematically and stylistically divergent verse, Still Here, Still Now delivers many of the elements of Pack’s poetry readers have come to admire and expect—both the humorous and the elegiac.
The first section of the book contains traditional lyrics that celebrate family ties and seek consolations for the passing of personal and evolutionary time. The poems in this group address a named or unnamed auditor in a voice of intimate engagement. Featuring the most narrative selections in the book, the second section consists of fable-like stories, rich with innuendo and implication. The characters in these poems make choices that press against the events and circumstances that challenge and define them. Embodying what Harold Bloom has called Pack’s “courage to surmount suffering,” the poems of the third section are largely devoted to biblical themes and philosophical speculations on the meaning of happiness and the uses of suffering. Here, Pack’s empathy for the human condition as well as his forebodings about the prospect of human survival are on poignant display. The final section of the book turns to Pack's abiding interest in landscape and the ways in which the place one inhabits contains and animates our individual lives.
Ripe with many years, Pack remains a vital presence in American letters. Still Here, Still Now is an affecting and graceful addition to the oeuvre of a poet whose compelling and distinct voice will continue to resonate among his loyal readers.
Nicholas G. Fotion University of Alabama Press, 1992 Library of Congress BJ1431.F68 1992 | Dewey Decimal 179.9
Most regard toleration as an unattractive fallback position of compromise and so tend to overlook it in favor of such active concepts as freedom, equality, and justice. Fotion and Elfstrom argue that toleration offers us the useful possibility of responding to a difficult situation with a degree of flexibility not possible with the dichotomous concepts of good-bad, right-wrong, ethical-unethical, Right-Left.
Tolerating saturates ordinary human life and infuses public discussions of religion, morality, and politics. It forms a major strand in the history of Western European thought. Yet the word “toleration” and similar terms are rarely used. Unnoticed and unremarked, they are like the air that surrounds us, vitally important yet invisible.
The authors seek to address this oversight in several ways. They begin with a thorough conceptual analysis of toleration and its kindred concepts. They are convinced that an appreciation of the importance of the family of toleration concepts must be founded on an understanding of the various ways in which they function in our language and our lives.
In addition, they examine the historical development of the concept of toleration and canvass the major arguments people have employed either to urge toleration or to disparage it. They examine the role of toleration in liberal political philosophy and respond to the major critics of liberal toleration.
The authors also discuss a number of factors that cause toleration to be overlooked in political debate and personal reflection and offer evidence to support the view that this omission is unfortunate. In particular, they argue that toleration has the crucial role of helping people live with one another with respect and dignity in the fractious and contentious world we inhabit.
With the rise of racism and other forms of religious, political, and social intolerance, people on all sides of the present debates concerning multi-culturalism and diversity will benefit from this timely and lucidly argued philosophical discussion of the concepts of toleration and its possible application in a less-than-perfect world.
How people conceive of happiness reveals much about who they are and the values they hold dear. Drawing on ethnographic insights from diverse field sites around the world, this book offers a unique window onto the ways in which people grapple with fundamental questions about how to live and what it means to be human. Developing a distinctly anthropological approach concerned less with gauging how happy people are than with how happiness figures as an idea, mood, and motive in everyday life, the book explores how people strive to live well within challenging or even hostile circumstances.
The contributors explore how happiness intersects with dominant social values as well as an array of aims and aspirations that are potentially conflicting, demonstrating that not every kind of happiness is seen as a worthwhile aim or evaluated in positive moral terms. In tracing this link between different conceptions of happiness and their evaluations, the book engages some of the most fundamental questions concerning human happiness: What is it and how is it achieved? Is happiness everywhere a paramount value or aim in life? How does it relate to other ideas of the good? What role does happiness play in orienting peoples’ desires and life choices? Taking these questions seriously, the book draws together considerations of meaning, values, and affect, while recognizing the diversity of human ends.