Happiness, Contentment

Thomas L. Carson
Loyola University, Chicago
Hfs paper is an analysis of the concept of contentment and its relationship to the notions of happiness and the good life. Many philosophers have argued that the concept of happiness can be defined or analyzed simply in terms of "contentment" or "being satisfied (or pleased) with one' s life."' Others have made the more modest claim that being satisfied with one' s life is necessary for being a happy person. Philosophers have also discussed the place of contentment in the good life. Few of them attach any great value to contentment. (The stoics are a notable exception to this.) Nietzsche goes so far as to say that being contented is incompatible with having a good life. I will propose an analysis of the concept of contentment in the first section of the paper. Then, I will consider the relationship between happiness and contentment and argue that being contented (with one's life) is neither necessary nor sufficient for being a happy person. In the final section of the paper, I will propose and defend a view concerning the normative significance of contentment and its place in the good life
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