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【On Happiness: Interdisciplinary Forum at NTU College of Liberal Arts】 ── Reflections on the Opening Symposium

 Upon observing the challenges of the new century and recognizing the essence of humanities in contemporary academia, professor Yu-yu Zheng, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, collaborates with professors within the college to initiate the "New Century Taiwanese Humanities Research Project.” As part of this project, two interdisciplinary forums with "happiness" as the keyword will be hosted during this semester.





Hybrid Realm of Happiness


    "Happiness" being the eternal pursuit of all human beings, while ways of inquiry are so diverse. I this forum, the theme “happiness” was examined through four distinct lenses.






   Professor Lin Mingzhao of the Department of Philosophy, clarifies the concept of “happiness" in Zhuangzi. The worldly pursuit of happiness revolves around material and sensory pleasures, which, paradoxically, lead to relative, indulgent, fluctuating, and contingent suffering. The above mentioned "joy" is, in reality, "born with sorrow.”

    Therefore, Zhuangzi’s concept of "ultimate joy" is “joy without joy,” suggesting that ultimate joy is found in accepting the ever-changing nature of life, even in the face of death. Also, only a society with diversity and inclusivity can true happiness flourish.





    Professor Tsai Mingchang from Academia Sinica explores “happiness” from a sociological approach: Can happiness be digitalize and measured statistically? How can sociology prove the reasons and meanings of happiness? His own research focuses on Taiwan, and according to his statistics, the level of happiness among Taiwanese people does not have an absolute correlation with education level, but does have a certain association with income and life satisfaction.

    A more intriguing question for sociologists is whether the "impact" or "benefit" of happiness on society can be measured. According to research, individuals who perceive themselves as happy tend to be more involved in work, sports, clubs, charity, art, and even have higher voting rates compared to those who are not happy. In other words, happier individuals exhibit higher levels of participation in public affairs.








   CHO Chen Jiejin from the Happiness Impact Institute's, proposes a three-tiered model of "happiness": 1.0 Taking care of oneself. 2.0 Caring about others. 3.0 Enabling each other to be more independent and free, to promote happiness and changing society.

    Her entrepreneurial experience was replicating a model to achieve a utopian world in the realm of online advertising. The goal is for "Happiness Power" to become a new national strength for Taiwan.







    Professor Lu Huiwen from the Department of Art History shares insights on the unique role of university art museums. With artworks and people as its core, university museums foster research, experimentation, education, and collaboration, serving as platforms for interdisciplinary exchange. In addition to “critical thinking”, they also cultivate “critical looking.”   

    Drawing from her own experiences at Princeton University, where the oracle bones from the Shang Dynasty were not separated by thick glass but handled by students, allowing them to feel the weight and warmth firsthand, she describes how university museums act as magical houses or time machines. Every campus needs such a place: a healing escape from the present.

    Art is more than decoration and leisure, instead it can emit significant power and voice. Confronted with contemporary issues in Taiwan, art should play an active role.




    In conclusion, this forum on happiness—from Zhuangzi’s timeless philosophy to sociological analyses and the transformative potential of art—reveals the multifaceted nature of the human pursuit of happiness.


Reported by Efan Chu