Philosophy and the good life

Angela Hobbs


This paper considers the implications for education of a reworked ancient Greek ethics and politics of flourishing (particularly as found in Plato), where ‘flourishing’ comprises the objective actualisation of our intellectual, imaginative and affective potential. A brief outline of the main features of an ethics of flourishing and its potential attractions as an ethical framework is followed by a consideration of the ethical, aesthetic and political requirements of such a framework for the theory and practice of education, indicating the ways in which my approach differs from other recent work in the field. I argue that the teaching of philosophy in schools and philosophical approaches to the teaching of other subjects are ideally suited to meet the pedagogic requirements of individual and communal flourishing so understood, contributing greatly both to the understanding of what a well-lived life might be, and to the actual living of it. I further argue that these requirements are not only derived from ancient Greek philosophy but are in turn especially well-served by the teaching and deployment of Greek philosophy itself. My claim is not that Greek philosophy has all the answers, or that other philosophers and philosophical approaches should be excluded; it is simply that Greek philosophy offers rich resources for those seeking to introduce children and young people to philosophy and to foster thereby their flourishing in both childhood and as adults.

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