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Dunkle to Give MHC Lecture March 7 on Hattiesburg Campus

Wed, 02/28/2024 - 10:40am | By: David Tisdale

Teacher of the Year Lecture

Dr. Ian D. Dunkle, an assistant professor in The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) School of Humanities’ Philosophy and Religion program, will present the Mississippi Humanities Council (MHC) Teacher of the Year lecture Thursday, March 7 from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. in Gonzales Auditorium, located in room 108 of the Liberal Arts Building on the Hattiesburg campus. Admission is free and members of the campus and local communities are invited.

“I’m honored by this award (MHC Teacher of the Year),” Dr. Dunkle said, “and I am so pleased that the Mississippi Humanities Council has chosen to highlight a philosopher, and one who works on one of the oldest questions human beings have asked themselves, ‘What is it to live my life well?’ I see it as an opportunity to celebrate what philosophy has to offer students and the university.”

Dr. Dunkle’s presentation, "The Value of Growth in Hobbies, Games, and Life" will address the question “What makes up a life well-lived?” In his talk, Dr. Dunkle, whose research and teaching focus on health and wellbeing, will argue that growth for its own sake, regardless of the outcomes it brings us including those resulting in the pursuit of our hobbies, is beneficial to people “over and above any feelings of contentment that result” from those pursuits.

“In this talk, I'm going to address what it is that makes up a good life,” he explained. “There are different ways to come at this question, philosophically. My approach will be to think about patterns in human behavior and the way we reflect on our own behavior to ourselves. I'm going to ask the audience to think specifically about what they care about when they enjoy hobbies and play games. Doing so will reveal a pattern, I think: we care a lot about getting better at our hobbies and games even when we don't care that much about the hobby or game for its own sake.

“I think this concern for growth gives us a hint about a feature of a good life that hasn't been sufficiently explored by philosophers before me. One feature, I suggest, that makes a life go well are episodes of growth. I hope students, faculty, and those outside the university who attend my talk will come away thinking both about their own concern for growth specifically and more generally about what makes up a good life. It's been said many times before, but we can't reasonably expect to achieve a good life unless we have some idea of what we're striving for.”

Dr. Dunkle holds a doctorate from Boston University; he joined the USM faculty in 2021. His areas of expertise include ethics, 19th-century philosophy, and philosophy of medicine; he teaches courses on bioethics, the Good Life, and 19th- and 20th-century European philosophy. His research is focused on understanding health and wellbeing, and he also has interests in philosophy of disability, aesthetics, and moral psychology. Dr. Dunkle is on the advisory board and is a member of affiliate faculty for USM’s Center for Ethics and Health Humanities; affiliate faculty in the USM Disability Studies Program; and affiliate faculty in the USM Health Humanities Program. He is currently book reviews editor for The Journal of Nietzsche Studies.

Learn more about the School of Humanities’ Philosophy and Religion Program.