Eudaimonia in a general term denotes happiness and well being. Here eu is good or well, daimon is spirit. So, basically, it is the wellness of spirit. It is realizing one’s spirit. This concept of happiness is taken from Greek Ethics. The original definition of Eudaemonia is flourishing as well as well being. Why we need to study happiness is a major question asked by various subjects of science, philosophy, and ethics?
Simply, we need to study happiness because we need it. Nobody wants to live in misery. Everyone wants to live their life full of happiness and fulfillment. The philosophers of Greek have provided deeper meaning to the term ‘Eudaimonia’. The thoughts of the greatest believer is put down here.
Nichomachean Ethics is the best work of Aristotle. It deals with various concepts that help man to live a life of happiness. This work has a great impact on our practical thinking. In this book, chapter 10 covers ‘pleasure, happiness, and upbringing’. It raises the basic question of why pleasure doesn’t last for a long time? We seek pleasure because there is a desire to live life, and the desires won’t last for a long time, and so, the pleasure. Chapter 6-8 of Nichomachean ethics discuss happiness. Aristotle says that happiness is the attainment of the highest virtue. Happiness is that which requires the least possession and highest satisfaction. Aristotle completely denies materialistic life as sources of happiness. He focused upon the contemplative path which gives a greater inner satisfaction.
“…Some identify happiness with virtue, some with practical wisdom, others with a kind of philosophic wisdom, others with these, or one of these, accompanied by pleasure or not without pleasure; while others include also external prosperity…it is not probable that…these should be entirely mistaken, but rather that they should be right in at least some one respect or even in most respects.”Aristotle, Nichomacean Ethics, Book I, Chapter 8 (excerpt from Nothingistic.org, 2019)
“He is happy who lives in accordance with complete virtue and is sufficiently equipped with external goods, not for some chance period but throughout a complete life.” – Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book I, Chapter 10 (excerpt from Nothingistic.org, 2019).
Aristotle believes that Eudaemonia is to understand our human nature and act for its growth. It is reaching towards the perfection of humanity by continuous reflection on self. By realizing our inner good, and committing to it for life, we can get ultimate happiness.
Philosophy is a place where virtues are given the topmost position. Virtues are the mean between two extremes. The two extremes could be right or wrong, good or bad, sane or insane, real or unreal. It is balancing the situation of two opposite force. And then, finding a path in the middle of it. We need to look at the situation, perceive it, and find the mean. Virtue or excellence is whatever enables good of a particular person, object, theory, or situation. The philosophy of Eudaemonia gives the reason for achieving virtue. This virtue ethics is most important philosophy that enable us to understand the ultimate good and live accordingly.
“At the right times, about the right things, towards the right people, for the right end, and in the right way, is the intermediate and best condition, and this is proper to virtue.”
The concept of Eudaemonia is important because it not only helps to differentiate between good and bad, but also guides us to make the best decision.
According to Plato, Eudaimonia is the ultimate aim. It is the destiny of human life. It is the greatest achievement that humans desire. In every action, one should commit goodness. Because the final end of action is realized in action and is not a consequence of action. Further, Eudaemonia doesn’t always relate the ultimate goals to happiness. But could also aim for morality, kindness, compassion, etc. The concept of Eudaemonia can’t just be limited to happiness. Happiness is a state of mind for some period of time. For example, I am happy because I met my cousin. This happiness may cease to exist after 2-3 days. And this can’t be classified as Eudaemonia. Eudaemonia lasts for a longer period of time. It’s the well being which can’t get destroyed easily. Even Dalai Lama says “kindness is the way to happiness.”
Socrates believes that Eudaemonia is the highest virtue. Excellence in morality is the truest happiness. It is because it involves the happiness of oneself as well as others. Socrates believes that acquiring knowledge is important to reach the goal of virtue. Knowledge can give us the truest idea of morality, courage, justice, wisdom, etc.
The difference in Aristotle and Socrates quotient of happiness is the ‘happiness for oneself’ and ‘happiness for others’. Socrates looks for universal happiness, but Aristotle is inclined to the happiness of self. Plato is looking for the ultimate aim to which happiness could be subscribed. Hence, we know that there are different philosophers who came up with their unique ideas of happiness. Happiness is within self or it may be outside. The real point is to realize happiness and make our life fulfilled. This philosophy of happiness is important to make us understand the true happiness. The true happiness isn’t in materialistic goals of life. The true form of happiness is visible in the morality we chooses. It is not in the success we achieve, but in the values we learnt.
Happiness is very misunderstood term. The concept of Eudaemonia links happiness in terms of well being. And therefore, it helps us to choose the values that keep us achieving long term happiness.