Benevolent Purpose in Aristotle’s Theory of the Good Life
Important Question Explored: How can benevolent purpose in college student be encouraged in higher education?
Presenter: Blaine Fowers is a psychologist who specializes in the theoretical and empirical study of Aristotle. He has been teaching 23 years. Topics in character education and applied ethics are consistent foci of all his courses, regardless of their specific content. He inaugurated an undergraduate course at the University of Miami entitled “Community and Character Development.” Since the inception of the course, class enrollment has been virtually at capacity. He presents topics in this course related to character, purpose, and well-being in compelling ways to help invigorate the latent idealistic and benevolent interests of his students.
Aristotle’s ethics focuses on eudaimonia (flourishing) as the fulfillment of core human characteristics: centrally our social and rational nature. Purpose is essential to the good life because rational beings require reasons to support actions. Benevolence is indispensible because social beings require stable, trustworthy relationships and communities to flourish. Benevolence and purpose are vital in the formative stage of emerging adulthood, focused on work and relationship choices. This theory seamlessly integrates development, education, and moral action.
Session Experience: This first session will outline a rich, systematic account of benevolence and the good life from Aristotle’s perspective. This account describes an integrated view of how benevolence is an outgrowth of two central features of human nature: we are social and rational beings. Whether one sees the origin of human nature as divine or evolutionary, these two features define what is essential to living a good life. This theory seamlessly integrates development, education, and moral action in light of Aristotle‘s conception of moral action as the full expression of human nature. Aristotle’s theory is eminently practical.
Extending the Experience: After the session, participants will . . . . . . have learned ways to apply Aristotle’s theory through two extended examples, one in an undergraduate course on character that he teaches and the other in career development practices on benevolent purpose in college student be encouraged in higher education.