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CCEP conference: Happiness in Contemporary Continental Philosophy (Conference)

Thursday 16 March 2023 until Friday 17 March 2023Add to my calendar
Erasmusgebouw E15.39 & E15.41 (Erasmusplein 1, 6525 HT Nijmegen)
Ype de Boer en Antonio Cimino
Emanuele Coccia, Estelle Ferrarese, Steven DeCaroli, Sonja Lavaert, Antonio Cimino, Vivian Liska, Hans Thijssen, Olivia Guaraldo, Ype de Boer, Marta Faustino, Simon Gusman

We invite interested parties to register for the CCEP conference ‘Happiness in Contemporary Continental Philosophy’ taking place March 16-17, 2023.


Contemporary continental philosophy is ambivalent when it comes to happiness. It takes up a prominent position in the work of, for instance, Giorgio Agamben, with the enigmatic notion of ‘happy life’ and in that of Alain Badiou, who provocatively states that 'All philosophy is a metaphysics of happiness... or it's not worth an hour of trouble'. Both inherit an old tradition of ethical thought, developed from an intuition concerning a deep relation between truth, being, the good and happiness – a tradition reinvigorated by other influential contemporary thinkers such as Pierre Hadot and Michel Foucault. At the same time, however, modern philosophy is marked by a certain distrust of happiness, deeming it a subject to egotistic, frivolous, or distracting for serious ethical thought. At least since Kant’s exclusion of the desire for happiness from the sphere of morality, to some the very call to reflect upon happy life is an indication of bad taste, privilege or otherworldliness. Who has time to reflect on happiness when there are so much other, more urgent topics that demand our attention, such as climate change, racism, sexism, pandemics and refugee-crises? In The Human Condition, for instance, Hannah Arendt demotes ‘the pursuit of happiness’ to the activities corresponding to the biological processes of the human life (labor), distinguishing it from the higher concerns of ‘work’ and ‘action’.

The goal of this conference is to critically assess and discuss the philosophical potential of happiness in contemporary continental thought. What is the place of happiness within contemporary continental philosophy? How do various continental thinkers approach and evaluate the subject? What is its relation to truth and to the various domains of thought, such as ontology, ethics and politics?

Poster and programme

Download the poster here. (pdf, 601 kB)

Download the programme here. (pdf, 181 kB)

Ype de Boer

If you wish to attend the conference, please notify us by sending an email to ype.deboer@ru.nl before March 8, 2023. Online attendance is also possible.