Living Philosophy - PL661

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2017-18 2018-19
Canterbury Spring
View Timetable
6 30 (15) DR GA Forbes







This module has an ambitious but hopefully not ridiculous goal: to teach you something about how to live well. It will do so by introducing you to some of the most prominent philosophical traditions that have tried to offer practical advice on how to live, such as that of the Stoics and the Epicureans, but also the religiously inspired traditions of Buddhists, Confucians and Jesuit philosophers.* Of course, you can't learn to live well simply by reading a few books—not even really good ones. That’s why, as part of the module, you’ll also spend three days living in accordance with one of the traditions covered, and then reporting back your experience to the rest of the class, either through a traditional presentation, or by making a short video about your experience. You might not come out a Stoic sage at the other end of this module (although who knows?), but you’ll have learned quite a few things about what some very interesting people thought about how to live well, some of which you’ll be able to incorporate into your daily life.
* Topics covered will likely vary from year to year. The variations will be guided by the expertise of whichever person happens to be convening the module any given year, and by student feedback on previous years.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

This module will be taught by means of a one-hour lecture and a two-hour seminar for ten weeks.


Also available at Level 5 (PL660)



Method of assessment

100% Coursework

Preliminary reading

Reading list (Indicative list, current at time of publication. Reading lists will be published annually)
As noted above topics covered will likely vary from year to year but the following is an indicative list at the time of writing:
Selections from Seneca and Epictetus (Stoicism)
Selections from Epicurus and Lucretius (Epicureanism)
Thich Nhat Hanh, The Pocket Thich Nhat Hanh (Buddhism)
Confucius, The Analects (Confucianism)
St. Ignatius of Loyola, The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius (Jesuit Philosophy)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module Level 6 students will be able to:
8.5 Understand in detail the major philosophical approaches to how to practice living well;
8.6 Engage critically with some of the central issues surrounding these approaches, and have practised at least one of them in their day-to-day, through their study of the relevant arguments and engagement in the relevant practices;
8.7 Demonstrate their understanding of the various theories in this area and a recognition of the implications of these theories for problems within associated areas, all through their study of these arguments and engagement in practice;
8.8 Demonstrate the ability to engage in a close critical reading of some of major texts in the relevant traditions, and refer to major texts to support their own position and practice.

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