Happiness: Philosophy and Psychology

« Return to Course Catalog

One Section Available to Choose From:

Course DatesMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRNRegistration
July 13, 2020 - July 31, 20207/13 - 7/31M-F 3:30P-6:20POpenBernard Reginster

Course Description

The course introduces the study of happiness by considering classic and contemporary research from the two most relevant disciplines, philosophy and psychology. Besides exposing the students to a topic of immediate human interest, the course also exposes them to two distinct modes of inquiry about it, allowing them to compare and contrast them.

The course explores four fundamental questions about happiness: What is the nature of happiness (is happiness identical with well-being; is it a purely subjective state; what kind of state is it - pleasure, life satisfaction, or something else)? How is happiness achieved (what are the myths and realities about what conduces to happiness, and how can we know what is conducive to happiness)? Can happiness be achieved (are we naturally well suited to be happy? For example, are we good at knowing or predicting what makes us happy)? Why should we pursue happiness (is a good life essentially a happy life or are there other ingredients to a good life? If so, how does happiness fit in with them)? To address these four fundamental questions -- the What, the How, the Whether, and the Why of happiness -- the course exposes students to classic and contemporary contributions from the two disciplines that have studied it most extensively, philosophy and psychology. The course not only invites students to examine these contributions closely, but also to compare, contrast, and combine the distinctive approaches from both disciplines.

The course introduces classic readings from psychology and philosophy on the topic of happiness. Students will be exposed to the distinctive objectives and methods each discipline employs in its investigation of happiness, and invited to compare, contrast, and combine the two approaches. The students can expect to gain a better appreciation of two distinctive modes of thought and to develop a much deeper understanding of a topic central to their lives.

Prerequisites: None

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEPL0931
  • Length: 3 weeks

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2020.

Visit Program Page Information Sessions Learn How to Apply
Back to Top