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Friday, May 1, 2015

What happiness is ~ Aristotle

Aristotle thinks we can all agree what to call the highest human good: it is eudaimonia, happiness. But as for what happiness is, people disagree vehemently and sometimes even contradict themselves at different times of life.

The many think it is something palpable and obvious, for example pleasure or wealth or honor. Some think it’s one thing and others think its another – and often the same person thinks it’s different things. When he is sick he thinks eudaimonia is health, but when he is poor he thinks it is wealth. (Aristotle in Nicomachean Ethics)

It is well-known that “happiness” can be a misleading translation of eudaimonia and this passage shows why. The goods mentioned here may cause us, as we say, to feel happy, but it is hard to see how they could be what happiness itself is.

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