Living the Good Life
(19) Living the Good Life - Matthew Mariola, Environmental Studies Program
We will explore different conceptions of what it means to live the "good life." The discussion will begin with the books Living the Good Life and Continuing the Good Life by Helen & Scott Nearing, whose 50+ years of rural self-sufficient living in Vermont and Maine inspired the back-to-the-land movement in the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s. From there we will elaborate on several key themes that continue to resonate in the present day, including: the philosophy of stoicism and self-sufficiency; agrarianism vs. industrialism; manual vs. intellectual labor; and the ubiquity of digital technology in our everyday lives. Readings for many of these themes will be provocative articles, such as: "Our False Oracles Have Failed" by Ben Okri; "The Agrarian Standard" by Wendell Berry; "The Case for Working With Your Hands" by Matthew Crawford; and "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" by Nicholas Carr. Students will conduct their own research projects where they will be encouraged to explore alternative visions of the good life not dwelled upon in class, such as those articulated by feminists, technophiles, science fiction writers, activists from the developing world, etc.