The Quest for Happiness: From Boethius to Marie de France and Heinrich Kaufringer The Meaning of the Humanities Today and in the Future

Albrecht Classen


As much as money has always seemed to rule world, in reality many other criteria have really determined human life providing meaning, guidance, and relevance, such as the quest for happiness. Happiness can be expressed in many different ways and finds expression in a myriad of ways, including through literature. Hence, we need to differentiate between spiritual and material happiness, and thus can establish significant concepts about the various layers of the meaning of life. Only a Humanities-based study program can offer relevant perspectives, as we need the teachings from the past in order to cope with the issues of today and tomorrow. This paper draws on a selection of major literary and philosophical contributions from late antiquity to the fifteenth century to illustrate this most important insight, which redirects our attention to the Humanities as one of the most central study areas in the academy today. As evanescent as the quest for happiness might be, ultimately there proves to be no other more important topic in all of human existence.

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