Is eudaimonia what we all desire?

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Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 09:36 am
According to what Aristotle wrote, everyone agree that eudaimonia is the most desirable thing, but that people disagree on exactly what constitutes it.

Do you agree? Is eudaimonia the most desirable thing? Is it what we all desire in the end?

Why, or why not?
 
hue-man
 
Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 10:12 am
@Loki phil,
I believe that we all want eudaimonia (happiness), even if we give up on acquiring it. Being happy is about being joyful and content, and that feeling is just naturally desirable.
 
Loki phil
 
Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 10:43 am
@Loki phil,
Do you think that it is the only thing we desire for its own sake?
 
hue-man
 
Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 11:32 am
@Loki phil,
Is happiness the only thing we desire for its own sake; I think so.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Mon 1 Jun, 2009 02:07 am
@hue-man,
Happiness is the only thing we desire for its own sake, except for those things which we confuse for happiness.
 
Krumple
 
Reply Mon 1 Jun, 2009 02:41 am
@Loki phil,
Every and pretty much all actions are to acquire some amount of happiness or contentment. Some might quickly argue that waking up to the sound of their alarm in the morning does not make them happy in the least bit. The dragging of the self into the shower and into clothing and making the annoying commute to the one place you would wish away if you had such a wish to make, does not in any way make you happy. Well actually if you made such statements, you would be neglecting the fact that the ends justifies the means. You actually do work so you can obtain some level of happiness or contentment after it's all said and done. Sure there is a bunch of boring tedium between the moments of happiness but you still put the shackles on the next morning and shuffle yourself off to slave.co.

Even the most insignificant action is to in some way obtain some small amount of happiness or contentment. So is it desire? No, it is just a lack of, a sort of void which we feel we need to fill. Because once it is completely and utterly filled, we don't even move or budge, we don't lift a finger, we don't even think of anything else.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Mon 1 Jun, 2009 04:06 am
@Krumple,
Krumple;65928 wrote:

Even the most insignificant action is to in some way obtain some small amount of happiness or contentment. So is it desire? No, it is just a lack of, a sort of void which we feel we need to fill. Because once it is completely and utterly filled, we don't even move or budge, we don't lift a finger, we don't even think of anything else.


I agree with your explanation to the criticism that unpleasurable actions can still work toward the goal of happiness.

But Aristotle would disagree with the idea that happiness can coexist with the inactivity you describe. The Stanford Encyclopedia:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle/ wrote:

eudaimonia is achieved, according to Aristotle, by fully realizing our natures, by actualizing to the highest degree our human capacities, and neither our nature nor our endowment of human capacities is a matter of choice for us.


This is a life of active virtue, not one of inactivity. But there is also a translation issue:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle/ wrote:

Scholars in fact dispute whether eudaimonia is best rendered as 'happiness' or 'flourishing' or 'living well' or simply transliterated and left an untranslated technical term.


Aristotle says in the Nicomachaen Ethics:

Mere possession of virtue is not sufficient for eudaimonia "for possession of virtue seems actually compatible with being asleep, or with lifelong inactivity, and, further, with the greatest sufferings and misfortunes; but a man who was living so no one would call happy, unless he were maintaining a thesis at all costs."

And there is his challenge. He does not think a reasonable person would believe that lifelong inactivity can be rightly called a happy life. We might reply that we are not suggesting that lifelong inactivity is happiness, but that occasional durations of inactivity is happiness. The problem with this reply is that it calls into question the 'good for its own sake' clause. Inactivity cannot be good for its own sake and also only be preferable on occasion, therefore inactivity cannot be happiness.
 
Eudaimon
 
Reply Mon 1 Jun, 2009 10:00 am
@Krumple,
Loki;65822 wrote:
According to what Aristotle wrote, everyone agree that eudaimonia is the most desirable thing, but that people disagree on exactly what constitutes it.
Do you agree? Is eudaimonia the most desirable thing? Is it what we all desire in the end?
Why, or why not?

I agree totally. And I must say that everything we do is being done for the sake of attainment happiness, that is what is better. The problem is however that most of us do not know what happiness really is.
Krumple;65928 wrote:
Sure there is a bunch of boring tedium between the moments of happiness but you still put the shackles on the next morning and shuffle yourself off to slave.co.

Even the most insignificant action is to in some way obtain some small amount of happiness or contentment. So is it desire? No, it is just a lack of, a sort of void which we feel we need to fill. Because once it is completely and utterly filled, we don't even move or budge, we don't lift a finger, we don't even think of anything else.

Actually, there are several understandings of what is eudaimonia. Stoics and kynics (and ultimately Socrates) taught there are things that are good, evil, and indifferent. Good are only those lead to happiness and mental peace (knowledge -- the highest good), bad -- those which deprive us of it (killing, sex). Indifferent ones are divided into preferable, and utterly indifferent. Preferable are those which lead to good: say, having good education, communication with philosophers; life is also indifferent because it can be virtuous and not virtuous, that is one may suffer due to his ignorance his life long, and this life is, indeed, not good. Absolutely indifferent things are, e.g. the amount of hairs on thy head.
So being asked about alarm clock they would say that this is indifferent thing that thou hast to wake up early. The problem is thy desire to sleep, and this can be corrected. They would say also this does not touch us so deeply whether we should or should not stand up, that's, so to say indifferent level where we should make some utilitarian decisions. Eudaemonia is deeper. It is when some one does not create ideas against reality.

---------- Post added at 09:10 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:00 PM ----------

Loki;65822 wrote:
Do you agree? Is eudaimonia the most desirable thing? Is it what we all desire in the end?
Why, or why not?

So as to convince thee totally, allow me to recall Epicurus. He said that if we want something it is like we stay in need of something, lack something. In this way, when we attain what we wish, it is as if we returned to our 'fullness'. Thus, this fullness, eudaimonia is exactly what all people strive for.
 
Loki phil
 
Reply Tue 2 Jun, 2009 04:36 pm
@Eudaimon,
Thanks for the replies everyone. When you write "happiness" in the text, do you intend the common English meaning of the word as in temporary good feelings, like "Oh I was so happy when my ordered book was delievered yesterday" or "When I saw what he had bought for my birthday, I became really happy" - or do you mean happiness in the sense of a happy life, or of well-being or flourishing? This may be a dumn question given the title of the thread, but I'd rather avoid misunderstandings. From what I've understood, the second sense is the eudaimonic meaning. Though well-being and flourishing are rather vague terms.

I'm also curious how you view the thought-experiment of the happiness machine.

Didymos Thomas wrote:
Happiness is the only thing we desire for its own sake, except for those things which we confuse for happiness.


Does this make sense? Isn't it like saying that "You think you're hungry, but you are not."?

Krumple wrote:
Even the most insignificant action is to in some way obtain some small amount of happiness or contentment. So is it desire? No, it is just a lack of, a sort of void which we feel we need to fill. Because once it is completely and utterly filled, we don't even move or budge, we don't lift a finger, we don't even think of anything else.


So happiness is the lack of pain rather than the pursuit of pleasure for you? Do you think it is universal of just applies to some people?

Eudaimon wrote:
So as to convince thee totally, allow me to recall Epicurus. He said that if we want something it is like we stay in need of something, lack something. In this way, when we attain what we wish, it is as if we returned to our 'fullness'. Thus, this fullness, eudaimonia is exactly what all people strive for.


So in your view, there is a "roof"? Then how come that we apparently need more things (or at least different things) than 10 000 years ago? An illiterate would do fine during the Stone Age - after all, no alphabets existed back then - but be unable to survive in modern society.

Your view reminds me of Democritus' view in which the supreme goal of life was contentment.
 
Krumple
 
Reply Tue 2 Jun, 2009 04:58 pm
@Loki phil,
Quote:
But Aristotle would disagree with the idea that happiness can coexist with the inactivity you describe. The Stanford Encyclopedia:


I should have been more clear, when I was talking about non-movement I literally mean one not caring about their existence. When you are absorbed into bliss, anything can happen and you are careless to it. This is a typical experience to being extremely high on a drug or drunk on alcohol. There is no further concern (movement), because the goal for contentment has been achieved.

Quote:
So happiness is the lack of pain rather than the pursuit of pleasure for you? Do you think it is universal of just applies to some people?


Well first off, I would not say it is universal to be happy you would have to be free of pain. There are some people who thrive on pain and seek to wallow in pain and in that pain they find their contentment. I know that might sound odd or contradicting but pain is not always painful.

Well there are two types of pleasure seeking.

One type that is most common is by acquiring or doing something which results in some kind of joy.

The second type is by the removal of something that was restricting joy. Sometimes this is giving up a belief that was preventing some happiness. Or changing some attitude or behavior that was leading to unhappiness.

They might sound similar but one is gain while the other is removal.

They can also be considered as acquiring or aversion. Both have their draw backs and both have their successes. There is supposedly another joy but I have never seen it and I am skeptical that it exists. I think it is just a carrot but an invisible one.
 
Eudaimon
 
Reply Wed 3 Jun, 2009 12:31 am
@Krumple,
Loki;66252 wrote:
Does this make sense? Isn't it like saying that "You think you're hungry, but you are not."?

Hunger is not necessary unhappiness. Many people died in tortures yet being happy. And others, as Krumple said, prefer to wallaw in pain. Happiness is not caused by some physical experiences but rather of their interpretation. "These are not things people suffer from, but opinions thereof"

Loki;66252 wrote:
So in your view, there is a "roof"? Then how come that we apparently need more things (or at least different things) than 10 000 years ago? An illiterate would do fine during the Stone Age - after all, no alphabets existed back then - but be unable to survive in modern society.
Your view reminds me of Democritus' view in which the supreme goal of life was contentment.

Actually that was not only his view... The point is that even without comps or television or books etc. it is possible to be content, happy. These are indifferent yet preferrable things.
 
Loki phil
 
Reply Wed 3 Jun, 2009 02:28 pm
@Krumple,
Eudaimon wrote:
Hunger is not necessary unhappiness. Many people died in tortures yet being happy. And others, as Krumple said, prefer to wallaw in pain. Happiness is not caused by some physical experiences but rather of their interpretation. "These are not things people suffer from, but opinions thereof"


That's not what I meant. The post I quoted stated that sometimes we confuse some things for happiness. I asked if that makes sense, like if we can confuse non-hunger for hunger.

Eudaimon wrote:
Actually that was not only his view... The point is that even without comps or television or books etc. it is possible to be content, happy. These are indifferent yet preferrable things.


Yes it is, depending on your mode. Though various things that spice up life undoubtly make people happier. That's why I'm skeptical of the "fullness theory".


Also, I wonder how the happiness hypothesis stands up towards the happiness machine thought-experiment. Most of us would rather not spend our lives in there.
 
Eudaimon
 
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2009 08:50 am
@Loki phil,
Loki;66436 wrote:
That's not what I meant. The post I quoted stated that sometimes we confuse some things for happiness. I asked if that makes sense, like if we can confuse non-hunger for hunger.
Yes it is, depending on your mode. Though various things that spice up life undoubtly make people happier. That's why I'm skeptical of the "fullness theory".
Also, I wonder how the happiness hypothesis stands up towards the happiness machine thought-experiment. Most of us would rather not spend our lives in there.

Ah, excuse my misunderstanding. Actually when people are hungry they know what is it to be full, therefore they may call themselves being hungry as opposed to being full. In the case with eudaemonia, true happiness, the situation is completely different: nobody knows it if he does not possess it. Another point is that eudaemonia cannot be lost unlike the sense of repletion: one having understood the futility of material goods cannot be attracted by them anymore. Therefore Seneca used to say: "It is impossible to forget virtue". Actually, people use this term 'happiness' without clear understandind what it means, that's the main reason of the fact thou describedest.
Life can be happier only on indifferent level. It is impossible to add something to eudaemonia.
 
Bonaventurian
 
Reply Sat 6 Jun, 2009 02:32 pm
@Loki phil,
Yes. I think that happiness is what we all desire. That said, I think people should be very, very careful in using the "term." It's understood in a way other than the way that Mill meant it (satisfaction). Aristotle defines the happy life as that life to which no other life is to be preferred, which is complete (lacking nothing), and which is self-sufficient (nothing can be added to it or taken away).
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sun 7 Jun, 2009 02:26 pm
@Bonaventurian,
Loki;66252 wrote:

Does this make sense? Isn't it like saying that "You think you're hungry, but you are not."?


It is like saying you can think that you are hungry and be mistaken. Which happens to be true - it is not uncommon for people to eat out of boredom.
 
Loki phil
 
Reply Mon 8 Jun, 2009 11:45 am
@Bonaventurian,
Eudaimon wrote:
Life can be happier only on indifferent level. It is impossible to add something to eudaemonia.


What exactly is meant by an "indifferent level"? Can you be happier and at the same time not be happier?

Btw, is there any connection between Democritus' ideal of contentment and eudaimonia? At least from your post, it surely seems to be so.

Bonaventurian;66895 wrote:
Aristotle defines the happy life as that life to which no other life is to be preferred, which is complete (lacking nothing), and which is self-sufficient (nothing can be added to it or taken away).


This sounds somewhat like the modern concept of self-actualization (which I know is a rather vague term).

Didymos Thomas wrote:
It is like saying you can think that you are hungry and be mistaken. Which happens to be true - it is not uncommon for people to eat out of boredom.


But if you eat out of boredom, you're not eating out of hunger.
 
Eudaimon
 
Reply Wed 10 Jun, 2009 09:18 am
@Loki phil,
Loki;67392 wrote:
What exactly is meant by an "indifferent level"? Can you be happier and at the same time not be happier?

Well, the word happiness in mouths of people has different meanings. Some people mean by it indifferent things: like comfort etc., and in this case life indeed can be happier (I should like to discriminate this thing from happiness by giving it name 'comfortable'). Indifferent things can make life more convenient, comfortable or so, therefore they are preferrable. (We should eventually prefer anything, why not them?).

Loki;67392 wrote:
Btw, is there any connection between Democritus' ideal of contentment and eudaimonia? At least from your post, it surely seems to be so.

I am not a big specialist in Greek philosophy and language but it seems to me there is definitely such a connexion.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Thu 11 Jun, 2009 03:32 pm
@Eudaimon,
Loki;67392 wrote:

But if you eat out of boredom, you're not eating out of hunger.


Exactly. If you were eating out of hunger, as opposed to eating out of boredom, then you would not be mistaken when you think "I'm eating out of hunger".
 
nameless
 
Reply Thu 11 Jun, 2009 05:56 pm
@Loki phil,
I just stumbled on this that might be relevent;

http://www.sbinstitute.com/PDF%20AW.org/contemplativesci.pdf
 
Loki phil
 
Reply Wed 1 Jul, 2009 05:02 pm
@Eudaimon,
Hmm... if eudaimonia is the desired final product of our striving, do you agree that Aristotle was right in how to achieve it? Could there be different ways for different persons, or are there one way for for everyone? From what I know, ancient Greek philosophers all agreed on that eudaimonia was the highest good for human beings, but differed on how to achieve it.

Also, does a concept like eudaimonia exist in some non-Western philosophical tradition?

Eudaimon;66002 wrote:
So as to convince thee totally, allow me to recall Epicurus. He said that if we want something it is like we stay in need of something, lack something. In this way, when we attain what we wish, it is as if we returned to our 'fullness'. Thus, this fullness, eudaimonia is exactly what all people strive for.


Isn't it ataraxia that you refer to here? I.e peace of mind.
 
 

 
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