Happiness Fall 2016 Reading Schedule

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AUG 30

Course Introduction
Course websites: alfino.org, courses (courses.alfino.org) and wiki (wiki.gonzaga.edu/faculty/alfino)
Grading Schemes, Assignments
Happiness - Introduction to Course Topic and Content


Readings: McMahon, Ch. 1, "The Highest Good; Cahn & Vitrano, "Living Well"
Focus: McMahon is writing an intellectual history of happiness. This helps up see how happiness has a culturally variable dimension. In general with McMahon you should identify key turning points and developments, along with major figures associated with them. Here, notice how he contrasts Greek culture with the radical new philosophical teachings of the classical philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. The Cahn & Vitrano article gives you an introduction to happiness from the perspective of contemporary academic philosophy. What does the comparison of Pat & Lee's life help us explore about happiness?


Readings: Vitrano, "The Subjectivity of Happiness"; Haybron, Chapter 1, "A Remarkable Fact"
Focus: Vitrano is defending the claim that subjective theories of happiness are better than objective ones. Try to identify the main support for this claim. With Haybron, we are getting an introduction to his short overview of work on happiness. Note what he is saying about human differences and the problem of defining happiness. Also, note how Haybron is starting to define happiness


Readings: McMahon, Ch. 2, "Perpetual Felicitas"; Gilbert 1, "Journey to Elsewhen"
Focus: In McMahon, focus on the contrast he develops between classical and Christian views of happiness. The story of Perpetua and Felicitas seems important. We won't be tracking all of the detail in the history of happiness through the first 14 centuries of Christianity, but try to identify the main turning points McMahon focuses on: Augustine, John the Scot (Eriugena), and Aquinas. With Gilbert we are beginning a popular work in psychology. Gilbert is a researcher in his own right, and TED talker, but also does a great job pulling together psychology research on perceptions of well-being, especially future well-being. This chapter sets up the argument of the book. Stay focused on the difference that "nexting" makes and what he says about control.

SEP 13

Readings: Haidt, Ch. 5, "The Pursuit of Happiness"
Focus: This is one of two "overviews" of happiness that we will read this week. Try to track his theme regarding internal vs. external aspects of happiness and notice where he endorses research. You might think of this as the "firm ground".

SEP 15

Readings: Haybron 2, "What is Happiness?"; Gilbert 2, "The View from in Here"
Focus: Haybron is giving an "emotional state" view of happiness, developing his initial claim that happiness is a psychological state. Try to follow the components of this view: attunement, engagement, and endorsements. Gilbert will start citing evidence that we are pretty bad at remembering and comparing states. Also, track the discussion of Lori and Reba on the subjectivity of happiness reports. General you should feel that Gilbert is trying to challenge your assumptions about self-knowledge and "affect forecasting".

SEP 20

Readings: Haidt, Chapter 1, "The Divided Self”; Gilbert 3, "Outside Looking In"
Focus: Apologies to those of you who have read this in other classes. It's a pretty useful text for me because it reminds me that the organism we're thinking about the happiness of has this sort of brain. That doesn't mean that the structure or natural history of our brains determines happiness, but it might mean that it constrains it. The Gilbert chapter has some interesting research on how well or badly we are able to tell what we are feeling. At the end of the chapter he makes some important points about objectivity in happiness research. Pay attention to the "law of large numbers" (in life in general, but also for happiness studies).?

SEP 22

Readings: Michael Argyle, "Causes and Correlates of Happiness"; Bishop, Introduction and Chapter 1, "The Network Theory of Well-Being"
Focus: With Argyle you are getting a broad research-based introduction to happiness. Try to summarize the main findings from category or causes considered, such as Age, Education, Social Status, Income, Marriage, Ethnicity, Employment, Leisure, Religion, and life events. We'll also start Michael Bishop's new book, The Good Life, which offers an interesting and somewhat different type of happiness theory, called "network theory." Some heavy theoretical issues are lurking here, try to track what he's saying about positive psychology and his initial pitch for the theory.

SEP 27

Readings: Diener and Suh, "National Differences in Subjective Well-Being"; Bishop 2
Focus: Diener and Suh take us into the international research literature. Try to track their methodological issues at the begining, then track some of the factors that correlate with happiness cross-culturally, as well as differences. Consider their models for explaining differences.

SEP 29

Readings: Gilbert 4, "In the Blind Spot of the Mind's Eye"; Haybron 3, "Life Satisfaction"
Focus: Gilbert isn't just piling on more sceptical evidence about our ability to make judgements, but also introducing a construct that is widely held, often called "theory of mind" that certainly complicates our picture of our we interpret our experience, and hence our happiness. Haybron give you his analysis of theories of "life satisfaction".


Readings: Epictetus, "The Enchiridion"
Focus: Epictetus is a later stoic, but leaves a relatively complete statement of the stoic philosophy. Our goal will be to understand it and then consider it's implications for happiness. As read, you may ask yourself if the stoic is really so concerned about happiness.


Readings: Epicurus, "Letter to Menoeceus"; "Principal Doctrines"
Focus: Here we have the founder's word, though again so much from these Hellenistic schools has been lost (or not yet found). Keep reminding yourself that this is hedonism, because it won't always sound like it. Consider the implicit analysis of desire in Epicurus' doctrines.

OCT 11

Readings: Irvine, Chs. 4+5, "Negative Visualization" and "The Dichotomy of Control"
Focus: With Irvine we get a modern effort to develop Stoic thought and psychology. Focus on the concept of "negative visualization" in Chapter 4. In chapter 5, Irvine discusses and suggests a revision to the stoic doctrine of the "dichotomy of control". Try to follow the reasoning for the revision he proposes.

OCT 13

Readings: Miller, "Introduction: Yoga: Discipline of Freedom"; Fahri, "Cleaning Up Our Act: The Four Brahmavihara" (and the other chapter)
Focus: Barbara Miller gives us an overview of Pantjali's Yoga Sutras. Make sure that you can identify the aims and methods of yoga and think about the relationship between them. In the Fahri reading, the focus will naturally fall on the four brahmavihara.

OCT 18

Readings: Siderits, "Early Buddhism"; Buddha, Pali Canon, "The Greater Discourse on Mindfulness"
Focus: In Siderits, make sure you focus on the basic account of Buddha's life and the four noble truths. Understand the Buddhists diagnose of unhappiness and the remedy suggested. The Greater Discourse on Mindfulness should reinforce the account in Siderits, giving you an example of an historic teaching on the four noble truths.

OCT 20

Readings: Ricard, Chapters 6 and 7, "The Alchemy of Suffering" and "The Veils of the Ego"
Focus: As with Donna Farhi, Ricard gives us an explication of suffering, the ego and the self in a contemporary idiom. You might check out Ricard's life. He's pretty interesting as well.

OCT 25

Readings: Emmons, Ch. 23, "Gratitude, Subjective Well-Being, and the Brain"; Bryant, Chart, Types of Savoring; Bryant, Ch. 8, "Enhancing Savoring"

OCT 27

Readings: Bishop, Michael. The Good Life. Chapter 3, "Positive Causal Networks and the Network Theory of Well-Being," p. 35-58


Readings: McMahon, Chapter 3, "From Heaven to Earth"; Csiksentmihayli, Chapters 1 & 2, "The Structures of Everyday Life" & "The Content of Experience"
Focus: Chapter 3 takes us from the renaissance (14-15th centuries in Florence) right up to the Enlightenment. We get to see the emergence of modern symbols and cultural markers of happiness, such as smiles in paintings, but also the interaction of theology with the emerging view. Note that this is a time of growing wealth in Europe. Csiksentmiahlyi focuses us more concretely on the emotional qualities that everyday life activities have.


Readings: McMahon, Chapter 6, "Liberalism and Its Discontents"; Csiksentmihayli, Chapter 3, "How We Feel When We Do Different Things"
Focus: Chapter 3 from Csiksentimihayli presents his most important theoretical idea: flow.


Readings: Csiksentmihalyi Chapter 6, "Relationships and the Quality of Life"; Diener and Diener, Chapter 4, "Happiness and Social Relationships", Haidt, "Divinity with or without God"
Focus: Here you get two theoretical approaches to the importance of relationship, the humanist psychological and a more quantitative model. Haidt's "Divinity with or Without God" is back on the reading list this term. It's quite insightful about our capacity, psychologically, to have a relationship with God. Feel free to disagree!

NOV 10

Readings: Haidt, Ch. 6, "Love and Attachments"; de Botton, "Lovelessness" (vi - 10 - first few pages of the pdf, but feel free to read more), Brooks, "The Social Animal"
Focus: Here we'll focus on love as a distinctive "domain" of happiness. From Haidt we get some contemporary psychological accounts of love, especially attachment theory. The de Botton reading is short (for today's class) and makes a very specific point. Brooks raises the question of what "levels " there may be to love as a natural phenomenon.

NOV 15

Readings: Fenton Johnson, "Going it Alone", Gilbert 5, "The Hound of Silence"

NOV 17

Readings: Gilbert Chapter 6 and 7, The Future is Now," and "Time Bombs"

NOV 22

Please see me on Monday if you would like to confer on your final paper.

NOV 29

Readings: Gilbert 8 and 9, "Paradise Glossed" and "Immune to Reality"; Discuss papers


Readings: Montaigne, "That to Philosophize is to Learn How to Die;" Flemming, J. "HAPPY, HAPPY, JOY, JOY," To the Best of Our Knowledge, Feb. 13, 2005 (mp3)
Focus: Montaigne's essay offers a profound and irreverent update of the classical view from Socrates that the job of the philosopher is to learn to die. The Fleming podcast includes the following segments: Happiness Studies - Dave Myers, History of the Smile - Angus Trumble, Progress Paradox - Gregg Easterbrook, 21 Grams - Guillermo Arriaga, Coping with Death - Loren Ladner. We are primarily interested in the last two segments (the interviews with Arriaga and Ladner), but you may want to listen to the whole thing (about 55 minutes). Look at a couple of Wikipedia articles to get some quick knowledge about the Barod Thodol and "momento mori"
"To love that well, which thou must leave ere long" Sonnet 73, Shakespeare


Paper Workshop (Optional)


Review of Study Questions for Take Home Exam