Major Course Research Questions for Happiness and Wisdom

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  1. How objective, real, or subjective is happiness?
  2. What is the relationship between happy states of mind and happy lives?
  3. To what extent can money make you happy?
  4. Are happy societies wealthy societies? Should increasing GDP be our focus?
  5. What role does fate and luck play in happiness?
  6. What role does love and intimacy play in happiness?
  7. What role does pleasure play in happiness?
  8. What role does social esteem and career success play in happiness?
  9. To what extent can we influence our general happiness by the things we do?
  10. What insights and practices, if any, can I make use of from historical philosophical and religious thought on happiness (Christianity, Hellenistic schools, Yoga, Buddhism)?


  1. Is wisdom real or a subjective and cultural myth?
  2. Is wisdom a kind of knowledge? If so, what kind of knowledge is it?
  3. Is Wisdom a form of social cognition?
  4. Can wisdom be acquired? If so, what sorts of learning and training work?
  5. How do religious and secular approaches to wisdom differ?
  6. What is the age of onset of wisdom?
  7. Is wisdom more like the discovery of knowledge or a kind of making (Aristotle - Osbeck p. 70)
  8. Is wisdom partly the result of personal training of emotions, (especially, in relation to knowledge of reality (Stoicism) or the nature of mind (Yoga), or a view about the reality of self and change (Buddhism), or spiritual development (major religions)?
  9. How do ancient philosophies and major world religions contribute to our understanding of wisdom?
  10. Does wisdom contribute to life satisfaction (happiness) or does wisdom make you sadder?
  11. Does our evolutionary history tell us anything about how wisdom is realized in our species?
  12. Can we talk about wise and unwise cultures?