In this TED Talk & Philosophy-inspired movie night, we explored questions about a topic that has fascinated thinkers for centuries: Happiness & Meaning. Schopenhauer once said: “There is only one inborn error, and that is the notion that we exist in order to be happy” (though, admittedly, Schopenhauer was a complicated sort, so this quote needs context and a bit of unpacking). For Nietzsche, meaning is where it’s at: For, “he who has a ‘why’,” he said “can bear almost any ‘how’.” And for virtue ethicists like Plato and Aristotle, happiness is definitely the goal…but you can’t get there without meaning.
Special Guest Historian
We enjoyed a surprise visit from young historian, Greyson, who shared his knowledge with our group about Reeder’s Alley, bootlegging & the infamous canaries!
(Thanks for bringing us happiness & joy, Greyson!)
In this TED Talk & Philosophy-inspired movie night facilitated by Thomas Baumeister, we explored questions about happiness & meaning through the practice of Socratic inquiry. Primed by a TED talk film by scholar Emily Esfahani Smith, we looked at the nature of happiness, meaning, and more.
Some of the questions that arose in the process included:
- What is the difference between happiness and meaning? Should we care about one more than the other?
- Are contendedness and fulfillment related?
- Where do things like belonging, purpose, transcendence, and storytelling fit in?
- And what about adversity, character development, and goals?
- Is there an evolutionary benefit to happiness?
- Can one find happiness in resignation?
- Are things that are ‘fleeting’ worth valuing?
- Is happiness a good thing?
- And more…
TED Talk Film & Synopsis
About the Thinker
Emily Esfahani Smith is an author and journalist who draws on psychology, philosophy, and literature to write about the human experience-why we are the way we are and how we can find grace and meaning in a world that is full of suffering.
Thank you to the Philosophy Learning & Teaching Organization (PLATO) for supporting philosophy in the community and helping us bring activities like these to the Helena community!