Unit #3: The Good


PURPOSE: The following essay is an opportunity for you to practice your academic moves–or the composing skills necessary in representing a conversation–on a topic that has been considered by many, for thousands of years. You will need to incorporate at least 3 sources from the list below, as well as 1 source from a prior assignment.  One of the sources you use must be a multimedia source (song, film clip, tweets from the Dalai Lama, etc.). You must bring in 1 outside source of your own choosing, screened by me, that has greatly influenced your own understanding of the topic. This brings us to a total minimum of 6 sources (well, 5 if your personal choice source is also your multimedia source). Length should be between 8-12 pages, double-spaced, in MLA format.

– Plato, excerpt from the Apology
– Aristotle, excerpts from Nicomachean Ethics
– Cicero, The Tusculan Disputations, Book V: XVII, XXVIII
– Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, Book 2, chapter 20 & 21
– Epictetus, Enchiridion
– Epicurus, Principle Doctrines
– David Myers, “The Secret to Happiness“
– Mihaly Cziksentmihalyi, excerpt from Flow
– Eric Weiner, excerpts from Bliss: The Geography of Happiness
– Interview with Cornel West, Examined Life, dir. Astra Taylor
– Interview with A.C. Grayling by Alec Ash

TOPIC: One of the reoccurring tensions between characters in Plato’s dialogues involves whether the Sophists’ instruction corrupts the youth, or whether their teaching on rhetoric and ethics actually improve civic life. Alternately, we frequently see Socrates argue that improving one’s life involves a pure quest for knowledge. Throughout these discussions, we hear questions of what is good for the individual, what is good for society, whether successfully living a good life is something we feel or rationally know, and whether goodness can be taught at all. We can fast-forward 2000 years and see that the quest for the good life is still very much on our minds. Notions of success may include having children and creating a stable family, engaging in a fulfilling career, enjoying a spacious home and plush vehicle, or reaching a position of power in the community. Others may live for a cause, their art, or a higher sense of purpose. Often these definitions will depend upon how we view the reality of happiness, what is possible, and what is meaningful. In our readings, many of the authors approach the question of the “good life” by defining what a human being is good for, what demonstrates human power, or whether what we value is temporary or eternal. Your definition of “the good life” probably stems from what you value or what means something to you, the realistic goals you have set for yourself, and whether you are happy with what you have or are working toward. A thorough conception of “the good life” is one that can provide answers to questions about the meaning of life, what is worthwhile and what is not, and the purpose you choose for yourself.

WRITING PROMPT: Consider what you believe about goodness and happiness, and compose an argument for the good life and how to live it.

Possible Thesis & Points — 4/16

Paragraph Workshop — 4/18
(5 body paragraphs WITH SUPPORT integrated)

Full Rough Draft — 4/23

Final Draft — 4/25



Oh, the good life, full of fun
Seems to be the ideal
Mm, the good life lets you hide
All the sadness you feel

You won’t really fall in love
For you can’t take the chance
So please be honest with yourself
Don’t try to fake romance

It’s the good life to be free
And explore the unknown
Like the heartaches when you learn
You must face them alone

Please remember, I still want you
And in case you wonder why
Well, just wake up
Kiss the good life, goodbye

– Tony Bennett’s “The Good Life,” from the album I Wanna Be Around (1963)

You can find me in the club, bottle full of bub
Look mami I got the X if you into taking drugs
I’m into having sex, I ain’t into making love
So come give me a hug if you into getting rubbed
And you should love it, way more then you hate it
Nigga you mad? I thought that you’d be happy I made it
I’m that cat by the bar toasting to the good life…

– from 50 Cent’s song “In Da Club,” from the album Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2003)