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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



in ancient times the interpretation of life and later, in ethics, the interpretation and theoretical justification of morality according to the principle that happiness, or “bliss,” is man’s highest goal.

A premise of ancient eudaemonism was the Socratic idea of inner freedom, achievable through the individual’s self-knowledge and nondependence on the outside world. Although eudaemonism and hedonism arose at the same time and were closely interrelated, they are in a certain sense opposites. Happiness is not simply Aristotle’s protracted and harmonious pleasure but rather the result of overcoming the desire for sensual gratification—a result achieved through practice, self-restraint, asceticism, renunciation of one’s attachment to the outside world and its blessings, and consequent freedom from external necessity and from the vicissitudes of life; happiness is judicious reasoning, identical to true virtue.

For the Cynics, the governing principle of life is the struggle against the passions that enslave mankind. The Cyrenaics’ doctrine is essentially an elaboration of the same motifs—namely, that happiness depends not on external circumstances but on the right attitude toward them. The Stoics define man’s inner freedom as the joyful submission to fate, inasmuch as what has meaning for man depends only on man’s attitude toward external circumstances and not on life’s vicissitudes.

In the modern age this ideal of inner freedom has been developed by many philosophers; B. Spinoza, in particular, showed exceptional acuity in his antithesis between rational consciousness and sensual passions and in his purely intellectual conception of bliss—amor del intellectualis, or “intellectual love of god.”

The French materialists, such as C. A. Helvétius and P. Holbach, gave the concept of happiness a frankly hedonist cast; naturalist motifs became predominant in eudaemonism, as can be seen particularly in English utilitarianism.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Finally, it is argued that this interpretation reveals that Plato's "eudaemonism" is a different and more defensible doctrine than many commentators believe.
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Second, classical eudaemonism involves a progression in which the individual aims to rid himself of the false beliefs and illusions (e.g., fear of death, over-valuing of wealth, etc.) that comprise obstacles to the desired tranquillity of mind.
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According to Kant, happiness is not an unqualified good; rather, the only thing that can be considered good without limitation is a "good will" (Kant 1997, 7/ AK 4: 393X (6) For Kant, "if eudaemonism (the principle of happiness) is set up as the basic principle [of action] [...] the result is the euthanasia (easy death) of all morals" (AK 6: 378).
O.'s investigation helps us to rethink our understanding of the ancient philosophers, the eudaemonism of their teleology and that of the Scholastics, the essence of human nature, the notion of natural inclinations, the description of the common good, and the nature of God.
ROBERT BASS, "Towards a Constructivist Eudaemonism." Adviser: Edward McClennen.
visibly struggles with Aquinas's eudaemonism, the thesis that happiness constitutes the ultimate goal of human moral endeavor.