Philosophical Ethics Course
Tuesdays and Thursdays
9:25AM - 10:40AM
Instructor: Ian C. Edwards, PhD, LP
• In this course, we will critically examine the ethical philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Kant, Schopenhauer, Blessed John Paul II, and the Dalai Lama from the perspective of wellbeing as contentment, flourishing, and happiness.
• We will look at ethics as applied philosophy, or what could be called, "Clinical Philosophy."
• In so doing, we will be returning to an Ancient Greco-Roman view of philosophy as a kind of "therapy" for the psyche or soul. Thus, we will look at various ethical philosophies as schools of therapy to be applied to contemporary psychological and socio-cultural problems.
• We will reflect upon various ways of living a life of virtue (excellence) that can lead to wellbeing.
• Through this course, my intent is not only for each student to be able to articulate the important ethical ideas associated with each philosopher, but to learn ways of living that can help each student live a life predicated upon wellbeing, so that he/she has tools that will assist him/her in responding to life's challenges.
The "Clinical Philosophy" approach involves cultivating resilience through pursuing a life well-lived with wellbeing as a byproduct or result. I will be taking into account the notion that "happiness" as an end cannot be pursued; thus, constituting what I would like to call an "impossible project" that has the potential to increase rather than decrease depression through a neurosis of meaninglessness. I will be differentiating between "hedonic wellbeing" vs. "eudaimonic" wellbeing, with the former regarding the impossible pursuit of "feeling good" and the latter regarding the pursuit of a life well-lived, which begins by having students ask the timeless philosophical question, "What is the good life and how can I live it?" Thus, students will be encouraged to re-evaluate their own "happiness projects" in the service of developing ones that have a different foundation, one that is based not on "feeling good" but on pursuing a life of purpose, meaning, flourishing, and contentment, an approach that actually makes room for the experience of a full spectrum of emotions, including afflictive affective states, through philosophical training and mindfulness. We will also look at cultivating resilience through a change in worldview, which involves a change in the very way in which the self (within the cosmos) is understood. Depression is not simply an individual phenomenon that involves merely modifying the individual so that he/she can adapt to what are oft times confused socio-cultural norms regarding paths to "happiness" and/or "normalcy." From the perspective of "Clinical Philosophy," resilience would involve inviting the person to question those very norms, deconstructing the psychologically internalized pursuit of "feeling good" that is pervasive in our culture, purporting itself as "solution" when in fact it is a major part of the problem, and then developing a eudaimonic wellbeing program (self-care practices/technologies of the self) based on the pursuit of a life well-lived.