Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Prof. Jonathan Lear to give keynotes at conference

cardinal-and-learnews(From left): Cardinal Blase J. Cupich and Prof. Jonathan Lear will present the keynote talks.

Oct. 13 and 14 event caps Virtue, Happiness & the Meaning of Life project

By Andrew Bauld

After more than two years of research with collaboration between philosophers, religious thinkers and psychologists, the Virtue, Happiness & the Meaning of Lifeproject will present its findings at a capstone conference on Oct. 13 and 14, featuring keynote talks by Prof. Jonathan Lear and Cardinal Blase J. Cupich.

The conference culminates a project that brought scholars together from around the world to examine the enrichment of human life. Research in both the humanities and social sciences suggests that people who feel they belong to something bigger than themselves—be it family, a spiritual practice, or work in social justice—are often happier than those who do not. Scholars refer to the feeling as “self-transcendence.”

Panelists throughout both days, including scholars from religious studies, theology, philosophy, psychology, and economics, will discuss whether self-transcendence truly makes people happier and provides deeper meaning in human life.

Speakers from the University of Chicago include Candace Vogler, the David B. and Clara E. Stern Professor of Philosophy and co-principal investigator for the project; Marc Berman, assistant professor in psychology; and Tahera Qutbuddin, professor of Arabic literature.

“This conference serves to share our research with the broader community,” said Jennifer A. Frey, co-principal investigator, assistant professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina and formerly a scholar at the University of Chicago. “Our scholars from a variety of disciplines have reached similar conclusions about the essential role of self-transcendence in the general account of what makes for potential happiness and meaning in human lives. Our hope is that as this project winds down, we are only at the beginning of a new line of research.”

Lear, the John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought and the Department of Philosophy, will speak at 7 p.m. Oct. 13 at the Oriental Institute. His talk, titled “Gettysburg,” will look at the ethical difficulties of memorializing the dead and in particular the soldiers that died following the bloodiest battle of the U.S. Civil War.

Cardinal Cupich will speak at 6 p.m. Oct. 14 in the auditorium at the Law School. He will deliver a talk considering virtue in the context of building up the common good, titled “A Consistent Ethic of Solidarity: Transcending Self, Transforming the World.” President Robert J. Zimmer will introduce the cardinal.

“Cardinal Cupich has distinguished himself in his fundamental love of and concern for some of the most disadvantaged people in the city of Chicago,” said Vogler. “His call for solidarity is rooted in the genuine practice of solidarity, day in and day out.”

The conference is free and open to the public, but registration is required. To learn more, visit the Virtue, Happiness & the Meaning of Life website.

 

Candace Vogler to speak on moral relativism at Vanderbilt University October 5

Vanderbilt_bridge.jpg

Our principal investigator Candace Vogler will be at Vanderbilt University October 5 to speak on moral relativism, hosted by the Thomistic Institute.Thomistic Institute chapter in Nashville. Here is the abstract for her talk.

Moral Realism in a Climate of Moral Doubt

The thought that good is to be pursued, and bad is to be avoided is a basic condition on the intelligibility of animal movement generally.  We are intellectual animals—the kinds of animals that need to figure out what to pursue and how to go about pursuing it.  And this means that pursuit and avoidance are harder for us than they are for other kinds of animals.  For all that, making sense of what we go for and what we fear or flee operates in the context of some understanding of what is good for human beings.  These days, in the face of stark and shrill disagreement among thoughtful people about some of the most basic aspects of our lives, it can seem as though people have lost any clear, common understanding of human good.  Moral disagreement can seem completely intractable.  In this talk, I will look at some serious, likely intractable examples of profound moral disagreement, with an eye toward learning how to think about and engage these topics in the secure understanding that disagreement is partly a function of the challenges that intellectual animals face in trying to see what is good for them, urging a kind of modesty that does not require setting aside one’s own convictions.

Candace Vogler to speak on Happiness at Harvard University Sept 21-22

bgso-banner-1.jpg
Our principal investigator Candace Vogler will be at Harvard University September 21-22 to give a Graduate seminar and  Medical School seminar delving into topics such as Happiness, Virtue, Evil, and Doing Good. She will be hosted by the Thomistic Institute Graduate Chapter at Harvard University.

How to be Happy: Virtue and the Path to Human Happiness

Call both one’s efforts at being a good person and the ways of thinking, feeling, and responding to circumstances that develop while one works to be a good person ‘virtue.’  Let ‘human happiness’ pick out a pattern in one’s life marked by such connected and interrelated goods as love, health, strong family ties and friendships, intellectual engagement, interesting work, a reasonable measure of material security, optimism for one’s future, and availability to experiences of joy and peace.  On some traditional views, the development and exercise of good character—of virtue—is supposed to be enough to guarantee happiness.  On other views, traditional and more modern, virtue and happiness can come apart.  Both sorts of view share the idea that people want happiness.  Both sorts of view share the understanding that acting well can be costly.  In this talk, I will trace some of the tensions between virtue and happiness, urging that, while there may be no guarantee that the living will be easy when we work to be good human beings, the kinds of temporal happiness we can enjoy are only worth going for in the context of our efforts to be good people.

 

Good and the Privative Understanding of Evil

In this talk, I will think about bad things, and the ways in which we can apprehend and consider what is bad—both the kind of badness at issue in so-called “natural evils” like illness, injury, and some forms of suffering, and so-called “moral evils”—like injustice (with the understanding that moral evil can sometimes show itself in manmade natural evil).  It can seem like both sorts of bad function completely independently of the goods that they block, impede, prevent, or otherwise sabotage.  It can seem that way even if we don’t have unproblematic access to an account of what overall good might look like in the relevant area of human experience, life, or action.  I will take seriously the difficulty of giving an account of all-around goodness in specific areas of life, experience, and action, and argue that, nevertheless, any understanding of badness is parasitic on a grasp—however inchoate or indeterminate—of good.

 

Candace Vogler to speak on the place of virtue in a meaningful life, at Valparaiso University September 15

valpo.jpeg

Candace Vogler will give a talk September 15 at Valparaiso University as part of their programming on the theme of the pan-humanities seminar taken by every freshman, and the theme this fall is “human meaning and purpose.” She will be hosted by the Department of Philosophy at Valparaiso University.

The Place of Virtue in a Meaningful Life

Call both one’s efforts at being a good person and the ways of thinking, feeling, and responding to circumstances that develop while one works to be a good person ‘virtue.’  Let a ‘meaningful’ life be a life imbued with a sense of purpose or significance—a life that is full, engaging, and engaged, where the fulness comes of something more than mere subjective interest and enthusiasm.  It can seem as though virtue and meaning have very little to do with each other.  Whatever sort of struggle might be involved in working to be a good human being can seem like something personal—an individual quest to have a beautiful character or a shining soul.  Having a meaningful life, on the other hand, looks like the sort of thing that will require that I go beyond the business of working toward having a lovely soul and into a larger world where I try to find things that are genuinely worth pursuing, and devote myself to their pursuit.  In this talk, I will work to bring the two together, partly by urging a different account of virtue, partly by developing a slightly more articulate account of meaning in human life, and always by drawing on work by Thomas Aquinas.

 

Candace Vogler to speak on Happiness at Tulane University September 18

tulane.jpegOur principal investigator Candace Vogler will be at Tulane University on Monday, September 18 to give a talk on finding happiness. She will be hosted by the Thomistic Institute Graduate Chapter at Tulane University.

 

Hollow Pursuits, Fulfilling Pursuits, and Ultimate Satisfaction

According to an ancient truism that I have no interest in challenging, people want happiness.  According to more contemporary thought on the topic, in seeking love, wealth, health, friendship, adventure, something that counts as family, some sort of supportive community, interesting work, and the kinds of security associated with these things, people are seeking happiness.  Alongside these goods, people sometimes take an interest goods that go beyond the stuff of personal well-being and the well-being of those in their immediate proximity.  They want to be good people.  They want to play the good that they enjoy forward in some area of human life.  They want to work for social justice, say, or for other good causes.  But according to the ancient truism that understands this human busy-ness as directed at happiness, genuine happiness shows itself in complete satisfaction.  Drawing on the thought of Thomas Aquinas, I will urge that it is folly to think that a very good life will all by itself be completely satisfying.  While allowing that sources of temporal happiness really are sources of happiness, I will suggest that human life points beyond itself to a kind of spiritual good that we cannot secure on our own.

Our newest partner: The Institute for Ethics and Society at the University of Notre Dame Australia

und_uni-branded_hero1.jpg

We’re delighted to announce a new partner for our project, the Institute for Ethics and Society at the University of Notre Dame Australia. Based in Sydney, the Institute for Ethics and Society is one of Notre Dame’s three national research institutes. The IES aims to foster ethical awareness in professional and social life. It does this through pursuing excellence in research and by providing leadership in Ethics Education across the University.

IES is hosting our principal investigator Candace Vogler as Distinguished Visiting Fulbright Professor from 19 August – 7 September 2017. During her visit, Candace Vogler will take part in the following suite of events:

The Mission of the Institute for Ethics and Society

Established in late 2009, the Institute’s Terms of Reference state that its purpose is “to promote the study of Catholic intellectual and moral tradition, with a particular focus on faith and ethics and their application and integration into the broader life of society”. In carrying out this purpose, the Institute is guided by four principal objectives: (i) to inform and support the teaching of ethics through all Schools and disciplines of the University and the integration of ethics into the teaching of all units; (ii) to inform and support the understanding and adoption of the Catholic Church’s recognition of the complementarity of faith and reason through all the University’s endeavours; (iii) to promote and undertake research into professional and social ethics, including political, legal and medical ethics and the relation between ethics and faith; and (iv) to identify and provide advice and commentary in the fields of ethics and faith and their practical application and integration into relevant current day social issues. Underlying all objectives is the desire to promote interdisciplinary teaching, discussion, scholarship and research. The Institute will draw on staff from all campuses and from all disciplines in undertaking its activities.

Photos and tweets from “Speaking of Character” with David Brooks, Anne Snyder, and Candace Vogler

Twenty-seven undergraduates attended the day-long workshop “Speaking of Character” with David Brooks, Anne Snyder, and Candace Vogler on May 27, 2017, which was sponsored by the Hyde Park Institute and co-sponsored by Virtue, Happiness, & the Meaning of Life.

The session was closed to the public but we captured a bit on Twitter and some photos.

Check more photos here on our Flickr page.

 

 

 

Screenshot 2017-06-07 09.50.37Screenshot 2017-06-07 09.50.25Screenshot 2017-06-07 09.50.01

socgroup20170527_4012