This paper re-evaluates euthanasia and assisted suicide from the perspective of eudaimonia, the ancient Greek conception of happiness across one’s whole life. It is argued that one cannot be said to have fully flourished or had a truly happy life if one’s death is preceded by a period of unbearable pain or suffering that one cannot avoid without assistance in ending one’s life. While death is to be accepted as part of life, it should not be left to nature (...) to dictate the way we die, and it is fundamentally unjust to grant people liberal latitude in how they live their lives while granting them little control over the conclusion of their life narratives. Three objections to this position are considered and rejected; the paper also offers an explanation of why we think killing can be a benefit. Ultimately, euthanasia may be necessary in some cases in order to achieve eudaimonia. (shrink)
This essay explores connections and divergences between Alasdair MacIntyre's eudaimonistic ethic and Søren Kierkegaard's agapeistic ethic--perhaps the greatest proponents of these ethical paradigms from the past two centuries. The purpose of the work is threefold. First, to demonstrate an impressive amount of convergence and complementarity in their approaches to the transcendent grounds of an ethic of flourishing, the rigors necessary for a proper self-love, and the other-directed nature of proper social relations. Second, given the inapplicability of common dichotomies, to pinpoint (...) more precisely where Kierkegaard departs from eudaimonism, and where MacIntyre departs from agapeism. Finally, to show that both Kierkegaard's and MacIntyre's grounds for departure are inadequate, and thus that the most central insights of eudaimonist and agapeist ethics can be harmonized to a greater extent than either Kierkegaard's or MacIntyre's framework can allow. (shrink)
Aristotle's requirement that virtuous actions be chosen for themselves is typically interpreted, in Kantian terms, as taking virtuous action to have intrinsic rather than consequentialist value. This raises problems about how to reconcile Aristotle's requirement with (a) the fact that virtuous actions typically aim at ends beyond themselves (usually benefits to others); and (b) Aristotle's apparent requirement that everything (including virtuous action) be chosen for the sake of eudaimonia. I offer an alternative interpretation, based on Aristotle's account of loving (...) a friend for herself, according to which choosing a virtuous action for itself involves choosing it on account of those features of it that make it the kind of action it is, where these features include its intended consequences (such as the benefits it seeks to provide to others). I then suggest that Aristotle may take these consequences (including benefits to others) as contributing (and contributing non-instrumentally) to the agent's own eudaimonia, and that there is no conflict here with Aristotle's view that eudaimonia is an activity of the soul. For just as my activity of teaching is actualized in my students (provided they learn from me), so too my virtuous activity can be actualized in its beneficiaries. If this is right, then Aristotle's view is far from the Stoic (and proto-Kantian) view often attributed to him. (shrink)
I argue that Aristotle does not believe all rational action aims at securing eudaimonia (happiness) for the agent. Intrinsic goods are worth having independently of their promotion of any further ends, including eudaimonia. Aiming for such a good or avoiding evil may be rational even when eudaimonia is impossible and not the agent's goal. "Politics" 1332a7f suggests that even the happy agent may act rationally without aiming for eudaimonia. The final section argues that, given that an (...) immoral agent secures the greatest of evils, an alleged conflict in the "Nicomachean Ethics" between the intellectualist Book X and earlier books disappears. (shrink)
The conception of time presented in Aristotle’s Physics IV has been supremely influential in the philosophical tradition. However, I shall argue that it proves to be inadequate to resolve a question arising from Aristotle’s own ethics; namely, the relation of ethical action to eudaimonia. As one explores this issue, a sense of time begins to emerge that calls for a reconsideration of the concepts of magnitude or dimension (megethos) and continuity (suneches) that determine the account of time found in (...) Physics IV. This paper sets out the case for such a reconsideration and outlines the impact that it may have on the way we understand the temporal characteristics of eudaimonia. (shrink)
Anti-hunters frequently overlook or underestimate the positive values associated with reflective sport hunting. In this essay I characterize the value of hunting in the context of an Aristotelian virtue ethic. Sport hunting done for the purpose of recreation contributes heavily to the eudaimonia (flourishing) of hunters. I employ Aristotelian insights about tragedy to defend hunting as an activity especially well-suited for promoting a range of crucial intellectual and emotional virtues. Reflective sport hunters develop a “realistic awareness of death” and (...) experience what may be called “tragic” pleasure, which yields the important intellectual virtue of tragic wisdom. (shrink)
Current debates surrounding Aristotle's Politics involve attempts to explain the role of political participation in the pursuit of Aristotle's human telos, eudaimonia. Many argue that political participation is crucial to eudaimonia, equating the good man with the good citizen. Often this argument is based on Aristotle's labelling of humans as zoon politikon, or �political animal�, and the misleading translation of eudaimonia as �happiness�. We provide supported explanations of eudaimonia and zoon politikon which do not force us (...) to equate the good man and the good citizen. We illustrate Aristotle's analogy between the eudaimon man and the eudaimon polis and emphasize the role political participation sometimes plays in the pursuit of eudaimonia. On the basis of this evidence, we argue that Aristotle did not equate the good man with the good citizen necessarily, nor did he find political participation essential to eudaimonia. We then demonstrate that even without political participation, the polis plays a unique role in the pursuit of eudaimonia. (shrink)
In his recent book, Happiness, Pedro Tabensky has argued for an Aristotelian account of happiness as eudaimonia or flourishing. However, his account of happiness appears to have the unfortunate implication that both individual eudaimonia and global justice are in principle unattainable. I examine Tabensky's reasons for believing that his account has such unfortunate implications, and suggest that, if appropriately modified, he would be able to avoid them. S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.23(4) 2004: 402-410.
The discussion of "eudaimonia" in the "rhetoric" has a central place in Aristotle's exposition of the material for speeches deliberative, epideictic and forensic varieties of rhetoric. Due to the telos- relatedness of the material for each variety of rhetoric, the treatise on "eudaimonia" (Rhet A5) provides coherence between the varieties by displaying standards in terms of which particular cases at hand are ultimately assessed as good, useful, noble, just or their opposites. A focal and normative meaning of (...) class='Hi'>eudaimonia can be identified in A5 which Aristotle expects a prudent orator to maintain even when he is faced with perverted audiences. (shrink)
The debate between ‘inclusive’ and ‘dominant’ interpretations of Aristotle's concept of happiness (eudaimonia) has become one of the thorniest problems of Aristotle interpretation. In this paper, I attempt to solve this problem by presenting a multi-step argument for an ‘all-inclusive’ thesis, i.e., the Aristotelian philosopher or contemplator, in the strict sense, is someone who already possesses all the intellectual virtues (except technē), all the moral virtues (by way of the possession of phronēsis), and considerable other goods. If this thesis (...) is correct, the inclusive and dominant interpretations will converge, for the philosopher turns out to be the happiest human being both in the inclusive and dominant senses. (shrink)
In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle appears to use an elegant short argument to attack Plato’s doctrine of the good, which argument equally appears to attack Aristotle’s own doctrine of the good. I consider these two questions: First: Why does Aristotle reverse the judgment of Socrates/Plato on the issue: Which is better – things that are (only) good in themselves, or things that are both good in themselves and good for their consequences? Second: Why does Aristotle attack Plato’s doctrine that the (...) Form of the Good is the chief good, with an argument that appears to threaten his own view that eudaimonia is the chief good? I think the answers to these two questions are related. The elegant short argument in question I call “Aristotle’s Fast Argument.”After apologizing for criticizing views held by friends of his, Aristotle deploys the Fast Argument as a clincher to cap off his refutation of Plato’s view that the Form of the Good is the chief good: “And one might ask the question, what in the world they mean by ‘a thing itself’, if in man himself and in a particular man the account of man is one and the same. For in so far as they are men, they will in no respect differ; and if this is so, neither will there be a difference in so far as they are good. But again it will not be good any the more for being eternal, since that which lasts long is no whiter than that which perishes in a day.” (Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, 1096 a34–b4). I explore this sketchily presented Fast Argument. I consider why Aristotle may think it is valid and why he does not seem to realize that, on readings that make it effective against Plato’s view, his Fast Argument also seems to apply to his own view that eudaimonia is the chief good. This is what I will call “Aristotle’s Dilemma.” If the Fast Argument is interpreted too narrowly, its point about the whiteness of a white thing being independent of its duration will not apply to the goodness of the Form of the Good. If it is interpreted broadly enough to undermine the claim of the Form of the Good to be the chief good, it will equally undermine that claim for eudaimonia. Finally, I discuss some of the things Plato and Aristotle say about the chief good, and comparable things Immanuel Kant says about the good will. I draw some speculative conclusions that focus on the importance for Aristotle of the goodness of the chief good not being at risk. (shrink)
In this volume, Kieran McGroarty provides a philosophical commentary on a section of the Enneads written by the last great Neoplatonist thinker, Plotinus. The treatise is entitled "Concerning Well-Being" and was written at a late stage in Plotinus' life when he was suffering from an illness that was shortly to kill him. Its main concern is with the good man and how he should pursue the good life. The treatise is therefore central to our understanding of Plotinus' ethical theory, and (...) the commentary seeks to explicate and elucidate that theory. Plotinus' views on how one should live in order to fulfill oneself as a human being are as relevant now as they were in the third century AD. All Greek and Latin is translated, while short summaries introducing the content of each chapter help to make Plotinus' argument clear even to the non-specialist. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that several of the main issues that became a focus for classical Greek philosophy were initially framed by Homer. In particular, Homer identifies a tension between justice and individual excellence, and problematizes the connection between the heroic conception of excellence and ``eudaimonia'''' (happiness). The later philosophers address the problems raised in Homer by profoundly transforming the way each of these terms was to be conceived.
The gathering consensus on the inclusive/exclusive debate regarding happiness in the Nicomachean Ethics seems to be that both sides of the story are partly right. For while the life of happiness (understood as the total life of an individual) is inclusive of ethical and contemplative virtue among other things, the central activity of happiness is exclusively contemplation. The discussions of the Eudemian Ethics, on the other hand, seem to suggest that this text is broadly inclusive. The view I defend here (...) is that the Eudemian text is no more and no less inclusive that the Nicomachean version, although there are significant differences between them in terms of the life of contemplation. That is, I argue that the Eudemian Ethics is concerned with the political life and the actualization of theōria in this context, and suggest that the Nicomachean Ethics is concerned with contemplation in the context of both political and philosophical lives. (shrink)
This paper builds on the burgeoning tradition of Aristotelian liberalism. It identifies and critiques a fundamental inequality inherent in the nature of the state and, in particular, the liberal representative-democratic state: namely, an institutionalized inequality in authority. The analysis draws on and synthesizes disparate philosophical and political traditions: Aristotle’s virtue [...].
Nel Noddings claims that there is an important normative element in happiness. For support, she points to the Aristotelian idea of the eudaimonic life, a concept that is often translated into English as ‘the happy life’. However, in light of the wide divergence between the Aristotelian view of eudaimonia as a life of virtuous activity and most contemporary psychologists' and lay people's view of happiness as subjective wellbeing, the authors of this article believe that Noddings's merging of the two (...) has several shortcomings. Aside from ambiguity and confusion, it encourages us to deny that, given the human condition, we must sometimes choose between happiness as pursuit of positive emotion and personal satisfaction and happiness as pursuit of the common good and the virtuous life. (shrink)