Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


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A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Educational Studies, Under the Supervision of Professor Karl D. Hostetler. Lincoln, Nebraska: December, 2012

Copyright (c) 2012 Zhaojun Xu


In this dissertation, the teaching of happiness through morality courses in Mainland China is explored. The exploration centers on three questions: 1) What should be taught to students in terms of happiness? 2) Should schools focus on the cultivation of voluntary virtue or habituation of virtuous actions? And 3) what is the relation between happiness and achievement and/or sacrifice of self-interest? Based on both Aristotle’s and Marx’s views on these questions, the author argues that a comprehensive rather than a “correct” understanding of happiness should be taught to the students. Also, the author suggests that the goal of habituating students to virtuous actions is to cultivate voluntary virtue in students, and the habituation itself should not be the ultimate goal of moral education. Finally, the author suggests that in order to contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of happiness, students should be taught how to properly advance self-interest rather than always oppressing the concern of self-interest.

The structure of this dissertation is as follows:

The research purpose and core issues are discussed in the Introduction. Chapter 1 is a background knowledge of the teaching of happiness in Mainland China and a literature review on this topic. Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 focus on Aristotle’s and Marx’s views of happiness, respectively. In Chapter 4 Aristotle’s and Marx’s views of happiness are compared and discussed. Chapter 5 focuses on the implications of both the two philosophers’ views of happiness for the teaching practice of happiness in Mainland China. Chapter 6 is the conclusion.