Aristotle is famous for, among many other matters, the view that human well-being (in Greek, eudaimonia, and unhappily generally rendered in English as “happiness”) is about what we do or how we behave in life rather than what we feel or sense. He is famous also, of course, for his account of the practical and intellectual virtues through which the life of well-being is achieved. I should also mention that understanding Aristotle’s ethical framework is the way in to understanding his account of political life and the role and rule of law within it. Here is a new book that explores the complex structure of eudaimonia in Aristotle’s thought, Aristotle on Happiness, Virtue, and Wisdom (Cambridge University Press), by Bryan C. Reece.

Aristotle thinks that happiness is an activity – it consists in doing something – rather than a feeling. It is the best activity of which humans are capable and is spread out over the course of a life. But what kind of activity is it? Some of his remarks indicate that it is a single best kind of activity, intellectual contemplation. Other evidence suggests that it is an overarching activity that has various virtuous activities, ethical and intellectual, as parts. Numerous interpreters have sharply disagreed about Aristotle’s answers to such questions. In this book, Bryan Reece offers a fundamentally new approach to determining what kind of activity Aristotle thinks happiness is, one that challenges widespread assumptions that have until now prevented a dialectically satisfactory interpretation. His approach displays the boldness and systematicity of Aristotle’s practical philosophy.

One thought on “What is Eudaimonia?

  1. This is the very topic of the recent book on Josef Pieper’s work on this topic throughout his life
    Josef Pieper on the Spiritual Life
    Creation, Contemplation, and Human Flourishing
    by Nathaniel A. Warne March 2023

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