SEP 22

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6: SEP 22


  • McMahon C3, “From Heaven to Earth” (141-164)


  • Start SW1: Short Writing 1. (21 points)
  • Some notes on Perpetua and Felicitas.

2nd Thoughts on Epicurus

  • As with Epictetus, Epicurus' advice on how to achieve sagehood regarding pleasure strikes us as extreme. And so it is. But what might be some enduring lessons from his thought?
  • To be a good hedonist
1. Reason must be involved to evaluate pleasures and pleasure seeking behaviors. (Examples: food examples, affect forecasting failures are not limited to Hellenists!)
2. Simple pleasures savored can be superior to complex pleasures consumed without attention or at frequent intervals.
3. Negative mental states can ruin any pleasure. (For Epicurus: fear of the gods, for us: anxiety, stress.)
  • Maybe some things that separate him from us:
1. Overgeneralizes the strategy of extinguishing desire. With control, connoisseurship is possible and desirable.
2. In a wealthy educated world, we might feel secure with higher levels of pleasurable activity.
3. We're not them.

McMahon, Chapter 3: From Heaven to Earth (Renaissance & Reformation)

  • Background of emerging wealth: The Great Divergence [1] - not really significant until 19th century.
  • Contemptus Mundi: 13th-15th century: characteristics. Life in the European Middle Ages.
  • Contrast with Renaissance Humanism:
  • studia humanitis -- 141
  • Pico: 1463. Oration on Dignity of Man. key ideas: protean character of man. read quote on 144. 146: still traditional model (in line with Aquinas' dist.)
  • Renaissance Neo-platonism 151: vertical path to happiness.
  • Felicitas p. 153
  • Bronzino's Allegory of Happiness -- connection to earthly happiness evident.[2] "This complex allegory represents Happiness (in the centre) with Cupid, flanked by Justice and Prudence. At her feet are Time and Fortune, with the wheel of destiny and the enemies of peace lying humiliated on the ground. Above the head of Happiness is Fame sounding a trumpet, and Glory holding a laurel garland. This Happiness, with the cornucopia, is a triumph of pink and blue; the naked bodies of the figures are smooth, almost stroked by the colour as if they were precious stones - round and well-defined those of the young women, haggard and leaden that of the old man."
  • Lorenzo Valla's On Pleasure -- represents after life as pleasurable; connecting epicureanism to a Christian life. Note biographical detail. Valla also unmasks claims about Dionysius the Areopagite from Acts, with it, undermining authority of mystical otherworldly current of thought. 161
  • Smiles -- also, Mona Lisa, early 1500's
  • Melancholy as disease: expressed in theory of humours;
  • Thomas More and the concept of "utopia" - new idea. "eu" from "eudaimonia" (flourishing, happiness for Aristotle); in his good Christians devote themselves also to enjoyment of this world.
  • Reformation - The reformation can be seen as a huge step toward bring personal faith life and spiritual happiness together.
  • Martin Luther and happiness: 1534 letter, ok to be happy, salvation by faith, "killing the Old Adam" (recall the Pelagian heresy! p 169)
  • Calvin
  • English Civil War -- opens up wide range of alternative views p. 175-176.
  • Locke, late 17th century. tabula rasa, nb. 180. Mind is impressed upon by experience and nature. Has its own imperatives. Note what is left out: original sin. Reassertion of happiness as driver of desire. Note enlightenment model of reasonableness of christianity here. Roughly: Reason discovers our happiness and God, as its author, wants this for us. Letter on Toleration very important for construction of modern model of self. Note context of religious wars. [European Wars of Religion]
  • Locke also important to history of happiness for political thought, which supports democratic republicanism over monarchy -- note trending models of happiness toward control of one's life at personal and political levels. Note connection at p. 182. "pursuit of happiness"; physiological thought on happiness;, but even that pleasure can enhance spirituality. 185: "...Locke had legitimated the search for happiness in this life, grounding it in science, human impulse, and divine order."
  • Hobbes: we are governed by desire continuously, so happiness must be the continual satisfaction of aims and desires. disparages tranquility or katastematic pleasures.
  • nice summary at par bot 185 - 186

SW1: Hedonism and Culture (600 words)

  • Stage 1: Please write an 600 word maximum answer to the following question by Wednesday, September 29, 2021 11:59pm.
  • Topic: We've sampled several specific cultural moments in which happiness and pleasure are theorized in distinctive ways. Socrates' vision in the Symposium, Epicureanism, the story of Perpetua and Felicitas, and a swath of Christian culture from the medieval period to the Renaissance and Reformation (the latter on Monday). In the first half of your answer, try to identify key ideas and potential insights from Greek, Hellenic, and Christian culture regarding their view of pleasure. What, if anything, would you borrow from these cultures and their thinkers for your own theory of pleasure?
  • Advice about collaboration: I encourage you to collaborate with other students, but only up to the point of sharing ideas, references to class notes, and your own notes, verbally. Collaboration is part of the academic process and the intellectual world that college courses are based on, so it is important to me that you have the possibility to collaborate. It's a great way to make sure that a high average level of learning and development occurs. The best way to avoid plagiarism is to NOT share text of draft answers or outlines of your answer. Keep it verbal. Generate your own examples.
  • Prepare your answer and submit it in the following way:
  1. Do not put your name in the file or filename. You may put your student id number in the file. Put a word count in the file.
  2. In Word, check "File-->Info-->Inspect Document-->Inspect. You will see an option to delete author information if it is found.
  3. Format your answer in double spaced text in a 12 point font, using normal margins.
  4. Save the file in the ".docx" file format using the file name "HedonismCulture".
  5. Log in to Upload your file to the Points dropbox.
  • Stage 2: Please evaluate four student answers and provide brief comments and a score. Review the Assignment Rubric for this exercise. We will be using the Flow and Content areas of the rubric for this assignment. Complete your evaluations and scoring by Tuesday, October 5, 2021 11:59pm.
  • To determine the papers you need to peer review, I will send you a key with saint names in alphabetically order, along with animal names. You will find your saint name and review the next four (4) animals' work.
  • Some papers may arrive late. If you are in line to review a missing paper, allow a day or two for it to show up. If it does not show up, go back to the key and review the next 1-2 animals' papers, enough to get to four reviews. This assures that you will get enough "back evaluations" of your work to get a good average for your peer review credit.
  • Stage 3: I will grade and briefly comment on your writing using the peer scores as an initial ranking. Assuming the process works normally, my scores probably be within 1-2 points of the peer scores. Up to 14 points.
  • Stage 4: Back-evaluation: After you receive your peer comments and my evaluation, take a few minutes to fill out this quick "back evaluation" rating form: Link. Fill out the form for each reviewer, but not Alfino. Up to 10 points, in Points.
  • Back evaluations are due October 11, 2021, 11:59pm.