Tue, Oct 20 at 7:30 p.m. | 90 minutes
| Starting on October 20 and continuing weekly on Tuesdays at 7:30pm until December 8.
Courses: Participants will be able to engage on their own time with the pre-recorded lectures and curated materials (readings, podcast links, interviews, and film). These will be used as the fuel for the live Zoom discussions with the professor.
How should I live my life? What is good? Can I reach happiness and how? What should I want in order to live a good life?
The question of what is a well-lived life has been a crucial preoccupation for Greek thinkers in Antiquity. This question never grows old, though the answers might have changed through time. Looking at new generations (including mine), the crave for meaning never felt so intense. Feeling that we could virtually become anything we want, regardless of it being true or not, makes the question about "How should I live my life?" that much more urgent.
In this new experimental format, we will explore ethical questions about morality, fulfillment, self-interest, and success.
This OlioCourse will take place on Tuesday evenings from October 20th until December 8th. We will alternate each week between a recorded lecture from Jeanne Proust and then meet the following week via zoom for a live session where we dissect, question and build upon the previous lecture.
You will have an entire week to digest the recorded content and come up with your thoughts and questions for the live session. The questions of the participants will structure the meetings, instead of being reduced to the common 10-15min Q&As at the end of a lecture.
What to expect from the course:
Participants will be able to engage on their own time with the pre-recorded lectures and curated materials (readings, podcast links, interviews, and film). These will be used as the fuel for the live Zoom discussions with the professor.
Participants are encouraged to come up with thoughts and questions to bring forth in the live sessions. Think of this as your chance for extended q&a with the professor.
Week I & II | Death and Pleasure
We will look at Epicurus’ hedonism, potentially dispelling a common cliché about him: the “Philosopher of the Garden” is not defending some YOLO way-of-life full of frivolous pleasures. The Letter to Menoeceus mainly posits that a good life is a life freed from of pain: the pain that groundless fears, such as the fear of our own death, and endless desires inflict upon us.
Readings by Epicurus and Montaigne
Recorded Lecture: October 20th // Live Olio: October 27th
Week III & IV | Stoicism and Control
The AA motto: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference" has a long history. Stoicism encourages us to distinguish between what is up to us, and what is not. A good life necessarily entails a form of resignation: we need to give up on the belief that we are in control of most of what happens to us. In this lecture, we will describe the virtuous man according to Epictetus, but also point out some challenges to Stoicism.
Readings by Epictetus and Descartes
Recorded Lecture: November 3rd // Live Olio: November 10th
Week V & VI | Eudaimonia and the Virtuous Character
In this third lecture, we will introduce « Virtue ethics », or Aristotle’s moral views on the good life. Virtue ethics doesn’t really establish a list of general moral principles; rather, it focuses on the character we need to develop in order to live our life in the way we should – and to find Eudaimonia. Translated as "happiness" or, better so, as "human flourishing." Eudaimonia is an activity rather than a state of mind, and we will discuss together the means to achieve it.
Readings by Aristotle
Recorded Lecture: November 17th // Live Olio: November 24th
Week VII & VIII | Egoism
It seems that ultimately, human beings do seek pleasure and want to avoid pain. We will establish distinctions between Psychological and Ethical Egoism, explore the myth of the "Ring of Gyges", and see how altruism can be compatible with self-interest. We will also try to understand what Ayn rand means when she speaks of a (counterintuitive!) "duty of selfishness"…
Readings by Plato and Ayn Rand
Recorded Lecture: December 1st // Live Olio: December 8th
Lastly, All Attendees will be invited to attend a subsequent Olio on the topic of Happiness in mid-December, free of charge.
*A note on the format*
The live discussions will take a spontaneous shape - i.e the professor will not adhere to a preconceived strict plan, rather, she will allow space for the participants to direct what they would like to learn about. In other words, with the provided materials, and the clarifying guidance of the professor, each participant will make the best of online live meetings, now conceived as participative platforms to strengthen and deepen understanding while remaining conversation based. The questions of the participants will structure the meetings, instead of being reduced to the common 10-15min Q&As at the end of a lecture. The meetings will basically shape itself as the questions go, requiring improvisation, critical thinking and flexibility all based on the participant inquiries!
*If funds are an issue for you at the moment, please feel free to reach out so we can do our best to accomodate*
While teaching at different universities in New York, Jeanne is advocating for a widening of philosophical education beyond the academia frontiers by participating in different events open to the general public. She taught at Rikers Island as a volunteer, and regularly gives public talks in philosophy, leading her to recently produce her own podcast, "Can You Phil It?”.
Zoom link will be sent upon signup.
Starting on October 20 and continuing weekly on Tuesdays at 7:30pm until December 8.