What better way to spend four March evenings than by pondering one of the central questions of the Western philosophical tradition: What does it mean to live a good life? Learn how some of the greatest philosophers of all time have approached this fundamental question, and how the question lives on today.
March 7 Plato and Aristotle on the Life of Reason
The two greatest Greek philosophers thought that the best human life was one lived in accordance with our highest power: rational thought.
March 14 Augustine and Aquinas on the Life of Reason...with Divine Help
Augustine and Aquinas incorporated the insights of the Greeks, but rethought them in light of Christian doctrines of sin and grace.
March 21 Modern Approaches
Modern philosophers have taken various approaches to the question of the good life. David Hume, a prominent figure in the Scottish Enlightenment, held that morality was a matter of feeling, not reason. Immanuel Kant, a leading 18th-century German philosopher, developed his views about morality by reflecting on the nature of pure abstract thought. John Stuart Mill, a 19th-century English public figure and free-thinker, held that the best life was one devoted to securing the greatest happiness for the greatest number.
March 28 Modern Moral Philosophy in Question
Friedrich Nietzsche, a 19th-century professor and writer, thought that the entire moral tradition of the West was bogus. In the 20th century, philosophers have usually not gone quite this far, but some of them have thought that Nietzsche was onto something. One proposed remedy has been a return to the thought of pre-modern thinkers like Aristotle and Aquinas—but with modern twists.
The discussions are led by Michael Gorman, a professor of philosophy at The Catholic University of America.