The Eudaimonia Institute is pleased to welcome Gyeongmin Kim as a short-term visitor in January 2020. She is a PhD student at Sungkyunkwan University in Korea, majoring in Western Political Thought. The working title of her dissertation is “The Religious Foundation of Adam Smith’s Political Thought.” She aims to trace the influence of reformed theology on Adam Smith’s thought, which consists of the basis of modern liberalist political ideas.
She writes: “I chose the Eudaimonia Institute for my research trip for the following reasons. First, I believed a meeting with Professor James Otteson of the Institute is necessary for further development of my doctorate dissertation. His ample research achievements on Adam Smith’s thought so far have considerably influenced building the relevant knowledge and shaping the subject of my thesis. Second, I was also interested in the work of the institute, working to derive practical implications that are relevant to modern society from Aristotle’s concept of Eudaimonia. This is a novel attempt to bridge the gap between philosophy and social science that has been torn since the twentieth century.”
Cameron Ryan is currently a junior at Wake Forest University from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania majoring in Economics and minoring in Chemistry and Bioethics . He is an aspiring author and on the Pre-Med track. This summer he worked as a mathematics tutor for students in middle school and high school, and continued to work his first novel.
“Attending the Steven Pinker “Enlightenment Now,” and Moral Criticisms of Capitalism seminars at the Eudaimonia Institute have helped deepen my understanding of how politics and economics affect human progress. I have thoroughly enjoyed challenging my own views and exchanging ideas with other like-minded students.”
– Cameron Ryan
The purpose of the Eudaimonia Institute (EI) is to explore the elements of and institutions that support eudaimonia, or genuine human flourishing. We are a community of scholars dedicated to developing an interdisciplinary understanding of what eudaimonia is, what the institutions are that support it, and what its chief obstacles are, all in the hopes of enabling more people to achieve eudaimonia.
The mission of the EI is to investigate the nature of eudaimonia, or genuine human flourishing, and the political, economic, social, and cultural institutions that encourage and discourage it.
We are interested in the exploration of both the theory of what eudaimonia is as well as its practical implications. We seek to understand what kinds of lives are truly worth living, as well as what policies, practices, and conventions should be encouraged to help people to lead such lives. We investigate eudaimonia not only at the level of individuals but also at the levels of organizations, communities, and societies. We expect that our research will help shape social reform and the national conversation, but we will not limit or confine our investigations by any prior concerns for their policy implications. Finally, the curricular and pedagogical implications of our research are also important to us: What does our research say about how we should frame liberal arts and professional education?
Eudaimonia (pronounced you-die-mo-NEE-uh) is Aristotle’s word for the ultimate end or goal in human life, the end for the sake of which we do everything else. It is typically translated as “happiness,” “flourishing,” or “well-being.” Broadly speaking, it is the cognizance of a life well and fully lived, a life of meaning and purpose in the service of goals, ends, and values worth serving.
Our investigations are motivated by the following criteria: to partner with and support the research of faculty at Wake Forest University; to bring in visitors and speakers; to host conferences and workshops; to support faculty members who can have homes in departmental units of WFU and also have an affiliation with the EI that will enable them to conduct research that furthers the missions of both their departments and the EI; to engage students in investigations into the “big questions” of meaning, purpose, virtue, and happiness; and to situate our research within Wake Forest University’s Pro Humanitate educational vision.
In light of these parameters, here are some of the lines of research the EI is committed to exploring: