Definition[ edit ] The Definitionsa dictionary of Greek philosophical terms attributed to Plato himself but believed by modern scholars to have been written by his immediate followers in the Academyprovides the following definition of the word eudaimonia:
Definition[ edit ] The Definitionsa dictionary of Greek philosophical terms attributed to Plato himself but believed by modern scholars to have been written by his immediate followers in the Academyprovides the following definition of the word eudaimonia: Verbally there is a very general agreement; for both the general run of men and people of superior refinement say that it is [eudaimonia], and identify living well and faring well with being happy; but with regard to what [eudaimonia] is they differ, and the many do not give the same account as the wise.
For the former think it is some plain and obvious thing like pleasure, wealth or honour… [a17]  So, as Aristotle points out, saying that eudaimon life is a life which is objectively desirable, and means living well, is not saying very much.
The really difficult question is to specify just what sort of activities enable one to live well. Aristotle presents various popular conceptions of the best life for human beings. The candidates that he mentions are a 1 life of pleasure, 2 a life of political activity and 3 a philosophical life.
One important move in Greek philosophy to answer the question of how to achieve eudaimonia is to bring in another important concept in ancient philosophy, "arete" " virtue ".
Aristotle says that the eudaimon life is one of "virtuous activity in accordance with reason" [b22—a20]. And even Epicurus who argues that the eudaimon life is the life of pleasure maintains that the life of pleasure coincides with the life of virtue. However, Essays about being happy in life disagree on the way in which this is so.
One problem with this is that we are inclined to understand virtue in a moral sense, which is not always what the ancients had in mind. Doing anything well requires virtue, and each characteristic activity such as carpentry, flute playing, etc. The alternative translation "excellence" or "a desirable quality" might be helpful in conveying this general meaning of the term.
The moral virtues are simply a subset of the general sense in which a human being is capable of functioning well or excellently. A literal view of eudaimonia means achieving a state of being similar to benevolent deity, or being protected and looked after by a benevolent deity.
Despite this etymology, however, discussions of eudaimonia in ancient Greek ethics are often conducted independently of any super-natural significance. It is significant that synonyms for eudaimonia are living well and doing well. One important difference is that happiness often connotes being or tending to be in a certain pleasant state of mind.
For example, when we say that someone is "a very happy person", we usually mean that they seem subjectively contented with the way things are going in their life. We mean to imply that they feel good about the way things are going for them. Eudaimonia depends on all the things that would make us happy if we knew of their existence, but quite independently of whether we do know about them.
Ascribing eudaimonia to a person, then, may include ascribing such things as being virtuous, being loved and having good friends. This implies that a person who has evil sons and daughters will not be judged to be eudaimonic even if he or she does not know that they are evil and feels pleased and contented with the way they have turned out happy.
Conversely, being loved by your children would not count towards your happiness if you did not know that they loved you and perhaps thought that they did notbut it would count towards your eudaimonia.
So eudaimonia corresponds to the idea of having an objectively good or desirable life, to some extent independently of whether one knows that certain things exist or not.
It includes conscious experiences of well being, success, and failure, but also a whole lot more. Nicomachean Ethics, book 1.
Because of this discrepancy between the meaning of eudaimonia and happiness, some alternative translations have been proposed.
Ross suggests "well-being" and John Cooper proposes "flourishing". These translations may avoid some of the misleading associations carried by "happiness" although each tends to raise some problems of its own.
In some modern texts therefore, the other alternative is to leave the term in an English form of the original Greek, as "eudaimonia". This division will be employed here in dividing up the positions of Socrates and Plato on eudaimonia. As with all other ancient ethical thinkers, Socrates thought that all human beings wanted eudaimonia more than anything else.
However, Socrates adopted a quite radical form of eudaimonism see above: Socrates is convinced that virtues such as self-control, courage, justice, piety, wisdom and related qualities of mind and soul are absolutely crucial if a person is to lead a good and happy eudaimon life.
Virtues guarantee a happy life eudaimonia. For example, in the Meno, with respect to wisdom, he says: In the Apology, Socrates clearly presents his disagreement with those who think that the eudaimon life is the life of honour or pleasure, when he chastises the Athenians for caring more for riches and honour than the state of their souls.
Good Sir, you are an Athenian, a citizen of the greatest city with the greatest reputation for both wisdom and power; are you not ashamed of your eagerness to possess as much wealth, reputation, and honors as possible, while you do not care for nor give thought to wisdom or truth or the best possible state of your soul [29e].
Virtues are states of the soul. When a soul has been properly cared for and perfected it possesses the virtues.FREE Life-Changing Books - Self Improvement, Spirituality, Mind Power, Law of Attraction.
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