In this course, we examine the foundations of ‘the good life’ as they surface in Danish and French philosophy, with a particular focus on human freedom and the search for meaning, fulfillment, and happiness. While external conditions may bring satisfaction, as in a well-functioning state like Denmark, we quickly turn our attention deeper, to internal measures of human flourishing.
Our course takes us into the minds of 19th and 20th-century European thinkers, writers, and artists, like Kierkegaard, Beauvoir, Camus, and Nietzsche, who were deeply troubled by the existential conditions of despair, anxiety, and meaninglessness, but who also saw these trials as occasions to examine how we live. With them, we inquire into our relationships, activities, and commitments. And we ask whether freedom is key to happiness, and, if so, the freedom to do what? What makes a life well-lived? All of these philosophers, in their own ways, turned towards nature and the outdoors as a place to clear their minds from the stresses or human social life and reconnect with the world around them. As such, throughout this course, we too will move between the city and wild areas to experience how movement in nature can help one declutter and detach their minds from urban life. We may not all come to a common agreement on life’s purpose, but, together, we do partake in an age-old pilgrimage in search of the good life.
Related Discipline(s)This summer course would also be of interest to the following discipline(s):