The Macricostas School of Arts and Sciences at Western Connecticut State University is expanding the minds of the campus community through a new lecture series. Every school year, the Macricostas family endowment to the school allows for a lecture every semester, with an overall theme decided upon for each school year. “This year’s theme is ethics and identity,” stated Missy Alexander, Dean of Macricostas School of Arts and Sciences. This theme was prevalent on Wednesday, March 16 in the Midtown Student Center Theater, where Macricostas Scholar Marcello Kilani delighted the crowd with a lecture on ethics and identity in Ancient Greece.
The crowd, a mix of WCSU students and members of the Danbury community, was entranced by Kilani’s lecture on Ancient Greece. Kilani had everyone at the edge of their seats when he started off the lecture with An Ode to the Muse, a recitation of a section from Homer’s The Iliad. Thunderous applause followed, and the audience’s attention never wavered.
Kilani’s focus throughout the lecture was on Aristotle, considering Aristotle was the first person to record his musings on ethics. He posed a question to the audience- “What’s the meaning of life?”- and provided Aristotle’s answer: Happiness. According to Kilani, there are four different meanings to happiness that the Ancient Greeks believed in. These were pleasure, honor, money-making, and a life of contemplation. In Aristotle’s mind, none of these by themselves would make a happy life. It would take a combination of all four components.
Another aspect of Kilani’s lecture was the discussion of ten virtues that Aristotle highly regarded, and the two vices associated with each one. Kilani did a quick overview of each one, with particular interest in moderation and how it relates to pleasure. Kilani’s argument (as backed up by Aristotle) was that what a person desires directs the activity that they engage in. “The moderate man only desires moderate pleasure,” said Kilani.
Kilani concluded his lecture with a simple statement: “Happiness is the goal of human life.” Judging by the applause of the audience, it was a thought that they all agreed with. Aristotle would be proud.