Well, Selanya was going to have a post up today, but I know she’s been traveling recently so I’m assuming that she got distracted by life. That happens more often than you’d think. Hopefully she’ll have something up later today, but to pass the time I thought I’d give you all an extra challenge. I’ve been reading a lot (… a lot) about Plato and Socrates lately. In classical philosophy there was an idea that I believe I’ve mentioned on here before, this idea is Eudaimonia. There’s been a lot of debate over what this word means. It could mean: the good life, happiness, human fulfillment, or contentment. There has been even more debate over what exactly we are saying when we say that men pursue Eudaimonia. Do we mean that men can only do those things that they believe will bring them the most happiness (this is called Psychological Eudaimonism), and that men are actually incapable of taking an action that they do not believe will lead to their happiness (i.e. are we arguing that every time I do something stupid it was actually because, deep down, I really believed that it wasn’t stupid)? Or, alternatively, do we mean that people should only do those things that they believe will bring them the most happiness (this is called Rational Eudaimonism), and that men are capable of taking action that they do not believe will lead to their happiness, but that such action is irrational (i.e. are we arguing that I can do something stupid, knowing that it is stupid, but because I was overcome by some immediate impulse that drowned my rational mind)? Lastly, we have to ask the question, ‘what is the good life’? What do we mean by happiness, human fulfillment, or contentment? This could be speaking of simply having the means to satisfy my every whim (this was the argument of Callicles, that eudaimonia means having the ability to satisfy my whims however extravagant they may be). This could be speaking of the ability to control ones desires so that one never desires something that one cannot actually obtain (i.e. I can’t afford that new TV right now, so I just won’t want it). This could also be speaking of something else entirely, such as completeness found through a mystical experience or spiritual relationship. So, could eudaimonia refer to the completeness and contentment that I find through my relationship with Christ, regardless of my surroundings and holdings?
So, here is your challenge: write me a 1000 word story detailing your concept of Eudaimonia. What is it, what does it mean, how is it achieved? Make sure that you answer each of the major questions above, and enjoy!
3 thoughts on “Missed Post”
Eudaimonia… no 1000 word stories. I looked at that word on the basis of my knowledge of Greek philosophy, so my interpretation is that in nature there is a universal law, it is by living in accordance with these elusive laws that the individual can achieve a level of personal happiness.
Alex, fair enough. However, this begs the question: what are those elusive laws? Aristotle never, in my opinion, satisfactorily answers this question. Augustine implies that hold God as our first love is the embodiment of natural law, and thus leads to Eudaimonia. Aquinas, similarly, argues that the natural law and the law/character/will of God are synonymous thus that those things which are Godly are also good, reasonable, and natural. However, it seems to me that human experience defies this reasoning on a regular basis. Of these, I tend to fall closest to accepting Augustine’s reasoning, but that’s just me.
I am a student of the philosopher Heraclitus, and although he is highly cryptic in his observations, he says that the elusive laws are that which is “common” to all, such as change is a constant in nature. He refers to elusive laws as the Logos, he describes the Logos as follows:
1. Although this Logos is eternally valid, yet men are unable to understand it — not only before hearing it, but even after they have heard it for the first time. That is to say, although all things come to pass in accordance with this Logos, men seem to be quite without any experience of it – – – at least if they are judged in the light of such words and deeds as I am here setting forth according to its nature, and to specify how it behaves. Other men, on the contrary, are as unaware of what they do when awake as they are when asleep.