Community in the Classroom

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Note: This post is a reprint from the November 2017 article in Fulbright Hearts and Minds. The piece and more information about the Fulbright Specialist Program can be viewed here.

In August and September 2017, Professor Candace Vogler from the University of Chicago spent three weeks in residence at the Institute for Ethics & Society at The University of Notre Dame Australia in Sydney, supported by a generous grant from the Fulbright Specialist Program.

Candace is a world leading moral philosopher, and one of the most creative minds at work today on how to translate the insights of moral philosophy into improving tertiary education environments.

Her expertise dovetails with the Institute for Ethics & Society’s research strengths in moral philosophy and ethics education.

Candace and researchers at Notre Dame share the conviction that integrating moral philosophy into university curriculums has a unique role to play in contributing to the intellectual and moral formation of all university students.

During her visit at Notre Dame, Candace delivered a public lecture, gave two keynote conference papers, taught a master-class on the history of moral philosophy, and facilitated a pedagogy workshop on creating community in the classroom.

She also consulted with researchers and senior leadership on how to develop connections between moral philosophy and professional education – a particular passion for Notre Dame in its commitment to providing an excellent standard of training for the professions.

The visit made a huge impact on students and faculty at Notre Dame, and led to the Institute for Ethics & Society being named an official partner institution with the University of Chicago’s $2.2m John Templeton Project “Virtue, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life” – a partnership which will bring the Institute for Ethics & Society into a global community of scholars and allow it to further develop its research expertise in moral philosophy and ethics education.

Professor Sandra Lynch, Director of the Institute for Ethics & Society was responsible for the successful FSP proposal. “Winning this grant has opened many doors for us and stimulated our thinking, especially in relation to ethics education. Not only did we have the pleasure of engaging with and learning from Candace for three weeks, but the link has enabled us to begin building research linkages around the world.

“A number of our researchers have been admirers of Candace’s scholarship for many years. This grant has provided us with a pathway to continue benefitting from Candace’s expertise in the future, and we also expect it will provide a platform for discussion and dissemination of our research in years to come as we interact with scholars of moral philosophy and ethics education around the world.”

The impact of this specialist visit was also felt in the wider Australian academic community. Activities associated with her visit saw researchers and students from universities across Sydney, as well as from the University of Oxford, University College London, and Princeton Theological Seminary, gather at Notre Dame to learn from Candace.

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.

 

Frey and Vogler Keynote Stockholm Conference

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Photo by Erik Angner

Our scholar Erik Angner has coordinated the workshop “Workshop: Happiness, Virtue, and the Meaning of Life” at Stockholm University.

In recent years, psychologists, neuroscientists, economists, and other scientists have turned their attention to traditional philosophical themes of happiness, virtue, and the meaning of life. Perhaps not coincidentally, philosophers’ interest in these themes appears to have been rekindled.

This two-day workshop aims to close the gap between empirical and philosophical approaches to questions of happiness, virtue, and the meaning of life, in the interest of encouraging the development of an empirically informed philosophy and a science with philosophical awareness.

The workshop’s keynotes are the Co-Principal Investigators for Virtue, Happiness, & the Meaning of Life.


Jennifer A. Frey’s talk is

Self-Love and Self-Transcendence
 
This paper will address the question of the connections between virtue, happiness, and meaning of life through the lens of “self-transcendence.”  I will explore what the concept of self-transcendence means by way of an account of appropriate self-love.  Aquinas argues that vice, and bad human action generally, should be understood in terms of inordinate (excessive or misdirected) self-love.  Appropriate self-love, by contrast, inclines one to, and finds its ultimate fulfillment in, the love of others; in short, it is a “self-transcendent” love. In this paper, I will explore Aquinas’s account of appropriate self-love as the foundation for the good or happy life, and the implications of this account for virtue ethics.

Candace Vogler’s talk is

Synderesis

Aquinas holds that human beings are the animals that have to figure out what to do–things are differently challenging for us than they are for other kinds of animals, however careful he is to notice that the highest levels of cognitive functioning in some nonhuman animals are very close to the simplest levels of human cognitive functioning.  But he also holds that we come equipped with something that he calls a “natural habit”–synderesis.  Synderesis gives us some initial direction, and gains more specific content as we mature.  In this talk, I will discuss Aquinas’s notion of synderesis, and explain the sense in which it is plausible to think that there is such a habit, linking my discussion to some work in developmental psychology with an occasional nod in the direction of controversy in contemporary Anglophone philosophy about the ‘guise of the good’ thesis.

For more about the workshop, speakers, and schedule, visit http://www.philosophy.su.se/english/about-us/events/workshop-happiness-virtue-and-the-meaning-of-life

Audio: “On the Connections Between Virtue, Happiness, and Meaning” at the Franke Institute for the Humanities

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photo by Anna Bruzgulis
Click here for more photos from this event

We were delighted when the University of Chicago’s Franke Institute for the Humanities asked Principal Investigator and Director Candace Vogler to give the first Winter quarter “Every Wednesday Luncheon” talk to UChicago faculty and invited guests on January 13, 2016. Our Scholar Marc G. Berman gave the introduction and a lively Q&A followed the talk.

To listen, click “On the Connections Between Virtue, Happiness, and Meaning”.

 

Save the Date! Live streaming John Haldane’s lecture “Virtue, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life” 12-14-15

live-stream-Haldane-Dec-14-John Haldane will discuss the growing consensus in the field of positive psychology that virtues are the cornerstone of a happy life, including how the sciences of human behavior are related to philosophical investigations of value and conduct, and how ethical evaluation of action has to do with the issues of existential meaning and happiness.

This lecture will live stream from the University of South Carolina at 6pm cst, 7pm est.

John Haldane is professor of philosophy and director of the Centre for Ethics, Philosophy and Public Affairs at the University of St Andrews, and the J. Newton Rayzor, Sr., Distinguished Professor in Philosophy at Baylor University. He is a scholar with the “Virtue, Happiness, and Meaning of Life” project.

Haldane’s research interests include issues in the history of philosophy; philosophy of mind; social and political philosophy, ethics, and aesthetics. Prof. Haldane obtained a bachelor of arts in philosophy in 1980 and a Ph.D. in 1984. He has held fellowships from the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, and Pittsburgh. A proponent of analytical approaches to the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, Prof. Haldane has authored or edited dozens of articles and books, including “An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Religion”, “Faithful Reason: Essays Catholic and Philosophical”, “Reasonable Faith”, and “Atheism and Theism”. He has also appeared on several BBC radio and television programs and contributed to the Times, the Daily Telegraph, The Scotsman, and several other outlets.

For more information, visit https://virtue.uchicago.edu/haldane.

Webcast October 17, 2015 – “Virtue, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life: A Collaboration”

Streaming live from the Neubauer Collegium. Registration for this event is full, so closed, but you can view a live webcast here on Saturday, October 17, at 2pm central time.  Click here to live stream the event. http://uchic.ag/live.

Principal Investigators Candace Vogler and Jennifer A. Frey present “Virtue, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life: A Collaboration”

Under what conditions do the everyday activities associated with being a good person provide a source of happiness and meaning in human life? What is the difference between morally serious people whose lives give them deep happiness and a sense of purpose, and morally serious people whose lives feel hollow?

We are embarking on a 28-month project funded by the John Templeton Foundation to explore and research these questions. The project, hosted by the Neubauer Family Collegium for Culture and Society at the University of Chicago and the University of South Carolina at Columbia, brings together an international gathering of 30 scholars in philosophy, psychology, and religious studies to engage in collaborative research on trans-personal, self-transcendent good as a framework for investigating fundamental questions about human life.