A lecture by Prof. Michael Pakaluk (The Catholic University of America)
There’s lots of talk about types of happiness and levels of happiness today, and psychologists even try to study happiness empirically. The old dispute, too, about whether an “active” life is best, or a “contemplative” life, continues on in various guises. But something that leaps out from St. Thomas is his vigorous defense of the idea that the human person can be happy only through a vision of God in His essence, the so-called “beatific vision.” This is puzzling in many ways. Wouldn’t a life here, free from pain, be happy? Isn’t physicality, that is, living in a natural world with a body, necessary to happiness for us? How can the beatific vision make us happy apart from family and friends? But in the lecture it will be argued that St. Thomas’ view is not so implausible after all.
Michael Pakaluk studied philosophy at Harvard College and the University of Edinburgh on a Marshall Scholarship before getting his Ph.D. at Harvard writing a dissertation under John Rawls. He is a recognized authority on classical philosophy, especially Aristotle’s ethics. Pakaluk has held academic appointments at Clark University, Brown University, Ave Maria University, and The Catholic University of America, among others.