What exactly is Wellbeing and why would it be fundamental to student self-care? Wellbeing can be understood as an English translation of what Aristotle referred to as eudaimonia. Eudamonia has been translated as “happiness” or “contentment” among other terms. Yet, it is more all-encompassing. The term itself is active rather than static in nature. It is a movement of the “eu-daimon,” literally, the “good spirit.” (In Christian terms, it could even be conceptualized as a movement or inspiration by the Holy Spirit). It implies virtue (or excellence), moreover, a practical or ethical wisdom, a wisdom that is lived from the source, which is the Spirit. When such a wisdom is lived, what occurs is flourishing, which is the idea that Ian Edwards believes corresponds best to wellbeing as eudaimonia.
In teaching a student various theories and practices of Wellbeing, my hope was and is to impart what can be considered an ethics of flourishing. In practical terms, the students in the pilot course were introduced to a Mind/Body/Spirit model for self-care that was derived from Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory. Ultimately though, calling Wellbeing a form of “self-care” is a bit of a misnomer in that it is in fact an ethics that includes but also transcends care of the self (or that it defines a self that is more interdependent and less self-enclosed.) The sense of self, from the perspective of Wellbeing, is situated within an interdependent world and has as its basis a situatedness within history. An understanding of the paradigm(s) of Wellbeing is in itself transformational. Thus, in moving the course forward, students would be introduced to various philosophers, ranging from Plato, Aristotle, and Marcus Aurelius; to Kant, Schopenhauer, and the Dalai Lama. The course would be academic but also practical, as it would be considered a course in Ethics. One of the major objectives would be to utilize and reflect upon the aforementioned philosophers and their associated ethical philosophies from the perspective of lived wisdom, applying philosophical ethics to real world problems in pursuit of responses to the question, “What is the good life and how can I live it?” Ian Edwards’ goal is to approach philosophical ethics as a kind of therapeutics for living well, rather than as an abstract system of ideas that have no bearing upon how to live a life of meaning and fulfillment.
In teaching a course in Philosophical Ethics that has Wellbeing as its foundation, Ian Edwards intends to help students live happier and more fulfilling lives. The aim of the course is not merely to satisfy an academic requirement, but to help students learn how to live well, so that they pursue the “good life” as both their means and end. With such a pursuit in mind, questions and dilemmas regarding life itself, questions pertaining to relationships, identity, career, and love become not so much separate problems to solve but mysteries to be both beheld and lived.