In this course, we will investigate a fundamental human question: what is happiness, and what do we need to attain it? Is happiness the same as life satisfaction or does it consist in fulfilling our emotional aspirations? Should we focus on seeking pleasure and avoiding pain or do we also need a sense of meaning and accomplishment in order to be happy? And should we even make happiness our primary goal in life or does that lead to selfishness and immorality? To reflect on such questions, we will investigate the arguments of philosophers, psychologists, economists, and cultural critics. The goal of our inquiry is not so much to arrive at definitive answers to the question what happiness consists of but to critically reflect on this everyday concept from different angles.
In addition to investigating the topic of happiness, this course will serve as an introduction to the craft of writing and critical thinking. We will begin by analysing the basic elements of academic writing and discuss strategies to help you construct a well-reasoned argument, respond to other writers’ claims, and anticipate objections. Next, we will discuss the structural elements of an effective research paper, with particular attention to strategies for revising your first draft. After the break, we will focus on the craft of research. We will discuss how to generate a significant research question as well as how to identify, evaluate, and use sources to support your own argument.