PHIL E -110 The Good Life: Learning from Classical India


What is a good life? What are we striving for? How do our various strivings connect, conflict, and relate to one another and to the good life that we seek? Much of our thinking about these questions is implicit and, all too often, unexamined. In this course, we will explore different understandings and visions of the good life by drawing on a diverse range of materials from South Asia. Specifically, we will investigate the classical framework of four spheres of human activity, comprising social and moral order (dharma); wealth, power, and political order (artha); love, pleasure, and sexuality (kāma); and liberating freedom (mokṣa). Far from being separate realms of striving, these four spheres of activity are often deeply interconnected and together constitute a compass for the good life. If all goes well, by the end of the course, we will have developed an understanding of the four spheres of human activity and how they come together for each of us into an integrative picture of a good life compass.