Our second summer seminar, “Virtue, Happiness, and Self-transcendence” is June 18 – 23, 2017 at the University of Chicago and features renown teachers in philosophy, psychology, and religious studies.
Our Seminar is intended for outstanding middle- and advanced-level graduate students and early career researchers in the areas of Philosophy, Psychology, and Theology/Religious Studies. Our aim is to involve participants in our innovative and collaborative research framework within these three fields, and to provide an engaged environment to deepen and enliven their own research.
Fr. Stephen L. Brock is Professor of Medieval Philosophy, Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome. He earned a B.A. in Philosophy at the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto. Brock writes widely on Thomas Aquinas and action theory, ethics, and metaphysics. He is the author of The Philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas. A Sketch (Wipf & Stock, 2015) and Action & Conduct: Thomas Aquinas and the Theory of Action (T&T Clark, 1998).
Jennifer A. Frey is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina and principal investigator with Virtue, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life. Prior to joining the philosophy faculty at UofSC, she was a Collegiate Assistant Professor of Humanities at the University of Chicago, where she was a member of the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts. She earned her PhD in philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh, and her B.A. in Philosophy and Medieval Studies (with Classics minor) at Indiana University-Bloomington. Her research lies at the intersection of philosophy of action and ethics, with a particular focus on the Aristotelian-Thomist tradition.
Dan P. McAdams is the Henry Wade Rogers Professor of Psychology and Professor of Human Development and Social Policy at Northwestern University. A personality and life-span developmental psychologist, Professor McAdams has explored the role of life narrative in human development, and how themes of agency, redemption, and generativity shape American biography, politics, society, and culture. He is the author most recently of The Art and Science of Personality Development (Guilford Press, 2015) and The Redemptive Self: Stories Americans Live By (Oxford University Press, 2006/2013).
Candace Vogler is the David B. and Clara E. Stern Professor of Philosophy and Professor in the College at the University of Chicago, and a principal investigator with Virtue, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life. She has authored two books, John Stuart Mill’s Deliberative Landscape: An essay in moral psychology (Routledge, 2001) and Reasonably Vicious (Harvard University Press, 2002), and essays in ethics, social and political philosophy, philosophy and literature, cinema, psychoanalysis, gender studies, sexuality studies, and other areas. Her research interests are in practical philosophy (particularly the strand of work in moral philosophy indebted to Elizabeth Anscombe), practical reason, Kant’s ethics, Marx, and neo-Aristotelian naturalism.
For more information on the seminar, the sessions, and to apply, click here.
Click the link below to hear our scholar Dan P. McAdams discuss his psychology research in generativity and redemptive life narratives.
Dan P. McAdams | Virtue Talk
Dan P. McAdams is the Henry Wade Rogers Professor of Psychology and Professor of Human Development and Social Policy at Northwestern University. He was awarded the Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Relations from Harvard University in 1979.
McAdams studies personality development across the human life course, with an emphasis on the narratives that people construct to make meaning out of their lives. He is the author most recently of THE REDEMPTIVE SELF: STORIES AMERICANS LIVE BY (Oxford University Press, 2013) and THE ART AND SCIENCE OF PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT (Guilford Press, 2015), and President-elect of the Association for Research in Personality.
The famous psychoanalytic theorist Erik Erikson defined generativity as an adult’s concern for and commitment to promoting the well-being of future generations. Generativity involves raising children, of course, but it also encompasses things like teaching, mentoring, activism, leadership, and other prosocial activities aimed at leaving a positive legacy of the self for future generations. Erikson argued that generativity (versus stagnation) is the central psychosocial issue of the middle-adult years. Midlife adults who are able to make positive contributions to future generations should enjoy better psychological health and higher levels of psychosocial development, compared to their less generative counterparts. But generativity should be good for others, too, as well as for the self, which suggests that generativity is itself a virtue, or that it points to related virtues, such as care and concern for humanity.
My students and I have developed the main psychological measures used today to assess individual differences in generativity. Many studies link high levels of generativity, as assessed on these measures, to more effective parenting, broader friendship networks, political participation, civic engagement, religious involvement, mental health and well-being, positive personality characteristics, and a host of other positive outcomes in life. As described in my book, The Redemptive Self: Stories Americans Live By (2006/2013), highly generative American adults at midlife tend to construe their lives as heroic narratives of redemption, wherein a gifted protagonist journeys forth into a dangerous world and, equipped with moral steadfastness, aims to transform suffering into enhancement.
Redemptive life narratives serve as a psychological resource for highly generative adults, providing them with the kind of personal story (narrative identity) they often need to persevere in the face of adversity and to keep focused on trying to make a positive difference in the lives of others and in society writ large. In our current longitudinal study of men and women between the ages of 55 and 65, we are continuing to study the vicissitudes of generativity and redemptive life narratives.