September 7, 2010

Happiness pursued in lecture series

Michael McCullough

Patrick Allitt

Frances Smith Foster

Revenge and forgiveness, America’s pursuit of happiness, and making happiness in slave-era America are the topics of the Pursuit of Happiness Lectures Series 2010, hosted by the University’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion (CSLR) throughout September.

Beginning at 7 p.m. in Tull Auditorium, the free public lectures are scheduled as follows: 

• Sept. 14, “Revenge, Forgiveness, Human Nature and the Happy Society: Some Lessons for Law.” Michael E. McCullough, director of the University of Miami laboratory for social and clinical psychology and a CSLR senior fellow, will draw from his latest book, “Beyond Revenge: The Evolution of the Forgiveness Instinct.”

• Sept. 21, "Religion and the Pursuit of Happiness in the Anglo-American Context.” Patrick Allitt, Cahoon Family Professor of American History at Emory, will reference 18th-century thinking on happiness and faith, and their inclusion in the Declaration of Independence. He also will address the idea that government cannot make people happy, even though it can create the political stability and rule of law within which citizens can pursue happiness.

• Sept. 28, “Making Happiness in Early African America.” Frances Smith Foster, Charles Howard Candler Professor of English and Women's Studies at Emory and CSLR senior fellow, will explore the issue of domestic happiness and love many Afro-Protestant families of the antebellum era experienced despite the obstacles they faced.

The project aims to put religion and science in conversation, focus on the relation between altruistic love and happiness, explore traditional teachings on the ancient ideal of the "pursuit of happiness," with the goal of reconstructing the idea of happiness in light of the new findings of the human and social sciences.

The lecture series is an outcome of the CSLR’s Pursuit of Happiness Project launched in 2005 to explore the Declaration of Independence proclamation that all Americans are endowed with "certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

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