Philosophical readings will focus on the ethical aspects of classical philosophy, and more particularly on the various possible definitions of happiness. Synonymous for an upright life, necessarily linked to a virtuous life, or related primarily to pleasure, what is happiness? And how should one live in order to be happy?
By means of certain philosophical texts, from Plato to Plotinus, and from Aristotle and Epictetus, these philosophical readings will allow us to discover the classical notion of happiness. In conjunction with these theoretical texts presenting a definition of happiness, biographies of saints and philosophers will show how they actualized in their own lives the happiness described in these more theoretical works. Reading biographies will moreover allow us to discover the application of the ethical ideas envisaged in theory.
Whereas the Platonic, Aristotelian or Stoic texts will allow us to deepen the various possible definitions of happiness, the reading of biographies will enable us to discover some lives of philosophers and saints, such as the Life of Plotinus by Porphyry, the Life of Saint Macrina by Gregory of Nyssa, and the Apophthegmata of the Desert Fathers.
Classical philosophy is not only a form of discursive reasoning, but also and especially a way of life. Additionally, biographies allow us to concretely answer the following question: how should one live to attain happiness? Indeed, because both the wise person and the saint live and act according to their words, they put into practice, on a daily basis, a model of life which allows them to attain happiness. The reading of these biographical texts will also allow us to highlight a number of practical hints about how to live happily on a day-to-day basis.
The method used to approach the theoretical texts will be a careful reading. Various texts will be read in a group or individually. We will take the time to understand what happiness is, as well as definitions of happiness according to these texts. Furthermore, the method used to approach the biographical texts will be a free reading, the text being used as a starting point to reflect upon and discuss together various ways in every-day life to attain happiness.