Eudaemonism

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Related to eudaemonistic: eudaemonia, eudaimonism, Human flourishing
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Eudaemonism

 

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.

T. A. KUZMINA

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
I have dwelt at length on Marcuse, because he offers a comprehensive and compelling case for a "eudaemonistic" view of the perversions.
There are a number of clues that at least raise the possibility of a eudaemonistic teleology in the development of consciousness.
But going beyond these initial, mostly suggestive, observations, there are three ways that I believe the Phenomenology operates as explicitly teleological and eudaemonistic. First, there is a teleology within the dialectic of each particular stage of consciousness.
If, however, the relationship between any earlier stage and the present one is implicitly teleological, as recollection teaches, and if the telos of the prior stage is identical to whatever goal consciousness has now in its immediate stage, then this second interstage form of teleology must be eudaemonistic also.
But putting to rest divided consciousness is exactly what we mean by "happiness." In this sense the enterprise of the whole, like the goal of its parts, is eudaemonistic. Hence at the last moment before absolute knowing, when revealed religion reflects on the passage of consciousness and all its shapes, Hegel says that "the unhappy consciousness which permeates them all is their centre" (754).
Shaw exemplifies what Max Weber describes about men who pursue capitalism under the guise of the Protestant work ethic: [T]he summum bonum of this ethic, the earning of more and more money, combined with the strict avoidance of all spontaneous enjoyment of life, is above all completely devoid of any eudaemonistic, not to say hedonistic, admixture.