Happiness

In Thomas Williams (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Ethics (2019)

Authors
Jeff Steele
Santa Clara University
Abstract
I first consider three medieval accounts of happiness—Augustine, Boethius, and Thomas Aquinas—noting particular the connection between happiness, the ultimate end, and virtue. As we will see, these various accounts all share the formal conception of happiness with their ancient predecessors, but uniformly agree that only the perfect and unchanging good, God himself, can truly satisfy these conditions as the ultimate end. However, each of these accounts has a unique way of filling out its content—the substantive nature of beatitude. Second, I consider Duns Scotus’s rejection of the intimate connection between happiness and morality. Finally, I consider the late medieval debate about which psychological faculty was primary in the enjoyment of the divine essence: intellect or will.
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