In this course we will attempt to formulate as a science what is really an art: the art of right living. We will reflect on the question, “How ought we to live? What is the good life for man?” This question, however, will draw us into further perennial questions about the very nature of goodness and duty, right action and right feeling, freedom and fate. These questions have been central to the conversation of the Great Books since the time when man learned to write, and we will see the same themes arise repeatedly in our texts over thousands of years. Hence, students will be asked to reflect both on their own answers to these questions and on the unfolding history of the questions themselves.
We will read: Plato, Laches, Gorgias; Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics I–III, X; Epictetus, Discourses; Aquinas, Summa Theologica I-II QQ.1–5; Hobbes, Leviathan (selections); Montaigne, Essays (selections); Spinoza, Ethics Part V; Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding (selections); Kant, Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals, Critique of Practical Reason, I.II; Hegel, Philosophy of Right III.I; Mill, Utilitarianism; Darwin, The Descent of Man I.IV–V.