This module asks after the nature of the good life and its relation to notions of pleasure, virtue, happiness, and serenity. The inspiration for the module comes from the idea that philosophy should not only be an abstract, theoretical discourse but a practical guide to life and to living well. The module offers the chance to study selections from some of the most interesting and rewarding texts and materials in the history of philosophy, including Epicurean and Stoic philosophies, the writings of Spinoza, Nietzsche, Foucault, and Pierre Hadot. Topics to be covered include: philosophy as a form of health of the soul and its therapeutic functions; the role of pleasure in the good life; the nature of Stoic virtue; the nature and function of spiritual exercises; meditations on death; ideas of self-cultivation; the love of one's fate and life-affirmation.
Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life (Blackwell).
The Essential Epicurus (Prometheus Books).
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations (Penguin).
Nietzsche, The Gay Science (Random House), book four.