Eudaimonia is a good attribute in human life. In his book, Aristotle states that people generally agree that eudaimonia is living and doing well. According to Aristotle, notes that the concept of complete happiness depends on an individual (Bailey 32) Therefore, happiness does not depend on the external factors that influence human life. Instead, it emancipates from within one’s beliefs and attitude towards life encounters. This study explores eudaimonia and compares it to the notion of implicit rejection of the Epicurean ideal of happiness.
Aristotle believed that happiness is not a possessive state. Instead, happiness is an activity that individuals engage in when living with close relatives or friends. Therefore, the function of the human body according to Aristotle is to remain active and employ reason in one’s life, while the physicians help with maintaining individual health. Although, Aristotle argues that the human body was not made just for pleasure since other animals also share those qualities. In essence, the human body and function must live in contemplation because they have a soul that should involve them in reasoning. Consequently, Aristotle found the concept of happiness as the best fit to describe the idea of good. Therefore, those who choose happiness because of itself find complete satisfaction in life unlike those who prefer happiness for something else such as material possessions. Moreover, people who remain active for most of their lives are happier than those who are rendered inactive due to different reasons such as sickness or old age. However, leading a productive life is a more viable alternative to inactivity, and talent instead of allowing people with other dispositions to live eudaimonia.
Epicurus’s philosophy gave its followers the prospects of individual happiness. The philosophy of Epicurus continuously warned against the pursuit of luxury to satisfy one’s happiness (Bailey 36). Therefore, according to Epicurus, pain and pleasure are jointly exhaustive. Consequently, those who are in pain only feel it because they are in pursuit of happiness. Once the pleasure is attained, the pain goes away, and individuals no longer need pleasure. Thus, according to Epicurus, there is no intermediate state. Similarly, joy marks the starting point for every decision in human life and the objective of living happily. The absence of pain which is perceived as a pleasant state is known as ‘aponia’ while the state of tranquility of the mind and body is called ‘ataraxia.’ Epicurus insisted that individuals should always believe in their abilities and trust their feelings. However, Aristotle insisted on the notion of knowing oneself first as the primary factor that would bring eventual happiness. He was not concerned about material possession because they only give an individual temporally happiness, and are subject to damages and destruction.
I find the Epicurus version of happiness to be more compelling as opposed to Aristotle’s eudaimonia. This is because Epicurus’s theory is based on human behavior and understanding of the situations that generate happiness. With eudaimonia, he denies that both pain and pleasure influence a person’s happiness. Conversely, Epicurus states that they are the root causes of leading a happy or dull life. Therefore, an ambitious life aims at acknowledging and honoring others, while seeking for happiness. However, both theories note that happiness depends more on those who honor than those who are honored. Ultimately, activity is needed in both approaches to reach happiness.
Bailey, C. (1926). trans. Epicurus: The Extant Remains.