Philosopher Wins Fellowship to Produce “Good Life” Guide to Rome


Scott Samuelson, professor of philosophy at Kirkwood Community College in Iowa, has been awarded a Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowship to put together a philosophical guidebook to the city of Rome focusing on the idea of a good life.

His project is called “Rome as a Guide to the Good Life: A Philosophical Grand Tour”:

Given all that’s been written about Rome, it’s astonishing there isn’t a philosophical guidebook to the city. “Rome as a Guide to the Good Life” fills that gap by exploring how philosophers, artists, and travelers think about the Eternal City to envision what it means to live well. An eclectic guide to ethics, mixing theory and history, this book roots philosophy in the sites of Rome. What does it mean to see the Forum like Cicero or the Colosseum like Augustine? What does Raphael’s Loggia of Cupid and Psyche teach about love and the soul? What can be learned from the tombs of the Non-Catholic Cemetery about how to build a life? “Rome as a Guide to the Good Life” shows how sculptures, paintings, buildings, and piazzas can be occasions not only for history and beauty, but also for self-knowledge and happiness.

What other cities would this kind of project be good for?

Professor Samuelson won the Hiett Prize in the Humanities in 2015. You can read excerpts from an interview with him here.

The Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowships, sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the American Council of Learned Societies, “recognize humanities and social science faculty who teach at two-year institutions and their vital contributions to scholarship, teaching, and their communities.” They include a stipend of up to $40,000 to be used for any activities or expenses related to advancing the project.

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Horst Huber
Horst Huber
10 months ago

Greetings:I wonder if Professor Samuelson has read the books by Reinhard Raffalt. There might be some inspiration there, even though the books are not restricted to ‘philosophy’.My best, Horst HuberReport

John
John
10 months ago

Hello! As concerns the question of what other places might be conducive to a study of good living, I might submit that I have, in recent years, come to find immense consolation from my annual visits to Konya, a city in modern-day Turkey, which is known as a destination for Sufi pilgrims, and is otherwise steeped in history. Also, before the pandemic started, it was quite easy to get there, thanks to inexpensive hotels and flights. Best wishes, John.Report

dmf
dmf
10 months ago

brings new meaning to untimely meditations….Report

SCM
SCM
10 months ago

“What other cities would this kind of project be good for?”

I need a multi-year grant to travel to all the great cities of the world just so I can provide a definitive answer to this very question. My working hypothesis is “All of them, and probably a few more too.”Report

Kenny Easwaran
10 months ago

If you want a guide that is focused on the philosophical questions of “what is a good life?” and the history of answers to it that have been embedded in the geography of the city, the natural places to consider would be long-lasting sites of pilgrimage of multiple religious traditions. Jerusalem is the obvious example. But any city with sufficient history is going to embody within it some very interesting and visible lessons of past attempts to understand the good life and make it possible for people. In the geography and architecture of New York you can read the changing views of the good life – the Dutch colonial village eventually gives way to the 19th century grid at Houston St; the history of the various tenement laws is written in the buildings of the Lower East Side, and not too far away you get various high modernist plans for appropriate housing, in Battery Park City and Stuyvesant Town; Wall Street, Broadway, and Hudson Yards indicate different ideas of how wealth can make your life fun. You could also take a city like Oxford or Vienna or Paris and trace out the geographies of the different philosophical movements that took place there in different centuries.Report

Miguel Velasco
Miguel Velasco
10 months ago

Hmm.. might one also be able to focus on the individual places for certain traditions, such as the top of a mountain, or for someone looking at the body of a dead animal that has been hunted. What might these experiences communicate about the good life?Report

Jessica
Jessica
10 months ago

Does he have a publisher, I wonder?Report