Pursuit of Happiness: The Psychology, Anthropology, and Philosophy of Happiness (1S or 2S)


According to the United States Declaration of Independence, the right to pursue happiness is self-evident. Yet it is not self-evident that we Americans are generally happy. How can we pursue happiness? How might we lessen stress and discomfort and discover greater ease? In exploring responses to these and related questions, this course surveys philosophies and religious paths that emphasize the practice of happiness rather than its pursuit. These include the classical Greek philosophy of Stoicism, elements of Hinduism, Taoist philosophy, and, in particular, lineages in Buddhist practice and philosophy. We also examine literature from positive psychology as well as elements of indigenous and Western religions. Within the scope of this content there are four primary aims: to understand the development of each tradition within its distinct historical and cultural context; to compare and contrast wisdom teachings and practices; to consider the relevance of traditions in light of contemporary research in psychology, ethics, biology, and related fields; finally, the course encourages students to try out different contemplative trainings and to reflect on their effects

Honors option available to juniors and seniors. 

Prerequisites: Open to seniors and juniors, and sophomores if space is available.