|Part of a series on|
The philosophy of happiness is the philosophical concern with the existence, nature, and attainment of happiness. Philosophers believe happiness can be understood as the moral goal of life or as an aspect of chance; indeed, in most European languages the term happiness is synonymous with luck.Thus, philosophers usually explicate on happiness as either a state of mind, or a life that goes well for the person leading it.
Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical or mental reality.
Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, or material world or universe. "Nature" can refer to the phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general. The study of nature is a large, if not the only, part of science. Although humans are part of nature, human activity is often understood as a separate category from other natural phenomena.
Happiness is used in the context of mental or emotional states, including positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. It is also used in the context of life satisfaction, subjective well-being, eudaimonia, flourishing and well-being.
|“||We have proved that justice in itself is the best thing for the soul itself, and that the soul ought to do justice...||”|
|— Plato, The Republic|
Plato (c. 428 – c. 347 BCE), using Socrates (c. 470 – 399 BCE) as the main character in his philosophical dialogues, outlined the requirements for happiness in The Republic.
Plato was an Athenian philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought, and the Academy, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world.
Socrates was a classical Greek (Athenian) philosopher credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, and as being the first moral philosopher of the Western ethical tradition of thought. An enigmatic figure, he made no writings, and is known chiefly through the accounts of classical writers writing after his lifetime, particularly his students Plato and Xenophon. Other sources include the contemporaneous Antisthenes, Aristippus, and Aeschines of Sphettos. Aristophanes, a playwright, is the main contemporary author to have written plays mentioning Socrates during Socrates' lifetime, though a fragment of Ion of Chios' Travel Journal provides important information about Socrates' youth.
In The Republic , Plato asserts that those who are moral are the only ones who may be truly happy. Thus, one must understand the cardinal virtues, particularly justice. Through the thought experiment of the Ring of Gyges, Plato comes to the conclusion that one who abuses power enslaves himself to his appetites, while the man who chooses not to remains rationally in control of himself, and therefore is happy.
Four cardinal virtues were recognized in the Bible, Old Testament, classical antiquity and in traditional Christian theology:
The Ring of Gyges is a mythical magical artifact mentioned by the philosopher Plato in Book 2 of his Republic (2:359a–2:360d). It grants its owner the power to become invisible at will. Through the story of the ring, Republic considers whether an intelligent person would be just if they did not have to fear any bad reputation if they committed injustices.
He also sees a type of happiness stemming from social justice through fulfilling one's social function; since this duty forms happiness, other typically seen sources of happiness – such as leisure, wealth, and pleasure – are deemed lesser, if not completely false, forms of happiness.
Social justice is a concept of fair and just relations between the individual and society. This is measured by the explicit and tacit terms for the distribution of wealth, opportunities for personal activity, and social privileges. In Western as well as in older Asian cultures, the concept of social justice has often referred to the process of ensuring that individuals fulfill their societal roles and receive what was their due from society. In the current global grassroots movements for social justice, the emphasis has been on the breaking of barriers for social mobility, the creation of safety nets and economic justice.
Aristotle (384 – 322 BCE) held that eudaimonia (Greek: εὐδαιμονία) is the goal of human thought and action. Eudaimonia is usually translated as happiness, but "human flourishing" may be a more accurate translation.Eudaimonia involves activity, exhibiting virtue ( arete , Greek: ἀρετή) in accordance with virtue.
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, the founder of the Lyceum and the Peripatetic school of philosophy and Aristotelian tradition. Along with his teacher Plato, he has been called the "Father of Western Philosophy". His writings cover many subjects – including physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theatre, music, rhetoric, psychology, linguistics, economics, politics and government. Aristotle provided a complex synthesis of the various philosophies existing prior to him, and it was above all from his teachings that the West inherited its intellectual lexicon, as well as problems and methods of inquiry. As a result, his philosophy has exerted a unique influence on almost every form of knowledge in the West and it continues to be a subject of contemporary philosophical discussion.
Eudaimonia, sometimes anglicized as eudaemonia or eudemonia, is a Greek word commonly translated as happiness or welfare; however, "human flourishing or prosperity" and "blessedness" have been proposed as a more accurate translations.
The Ancient Greek language includes the forms of Greek used in Ancient Greece and the ancient world from around the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE. It is often roughly divided into the Archaic period, Classical period, and Hellenistic period. It is antedated in the second millennium BCE by Mycenaean Greek and succeeded by medieval Greek.
Within the Nicomachean Ethics , Aristotle points to the fact that many aims are really only intermediate aims, and are desired only because they make the achievement of higher aims possible.Therefore, things such as wealth, intelligence, and courage are valued only in relation to other things, while eudaimonia is the only thing valuable in isolation.
The Nicomachean Ethics is the name normally given to Aristotle's best-known work on ethics. The work, which plays a pre-eminent role in defining Aristotelian ethics, consists of ten books, originally separate scrolls, and is understood to be based on notes from his lectures at the Lyceum. The title is often assumed to refer to his son Nicomachus, to whom the work was dedicated or who may have edited it. Alternatively, the work may have been dedicated to his father, who was also called Nicomachus.
Aristotle regarded virtue as necessary for a person to be happy and held that without virtue the most that may be attained is contentment. Aristotle has been criticized for failing to show that virtue is necessary in the way he claims it to be, and he does not address this moral skepticism.
Antisthenes (c. 445 – c. 365 BCE), often regarded as the founder of Cynicism, advocated an ascetic life lived in accordance with virtue. Xenophon testifies that Antisthenes had praised the joy that sprang "from out of one's soul,"and Diogenes Laërtius relates that Antisthenes was fond of saying: "I would rather go mad than feel pleasure." He maintained that virtue was sufficient in itself to ensure happiness, only needing the strength of a Socrates.
He, along with all following Cynics, rejected any conventional notions of happiness involving money, power, and fame, to lead entirely virtuous, and thus happy, lives.Thus, happiness can be gained through rigorous training (askesis, Greek: ἄσκησις) and by living in a way which was natural for humans, rejecting all conventional desires, preferring a simple life free from all possessions.
Diogenes of Sinope (c. 412 – c. 323 BCE) is most frequently seen as the perfect embodiment of the philosophy. The Stoics themselves saw him as one of the few, if not only, who have had achieved the state of sage.
|“||As a consequence the sage, even if he has his troubles, will nonetheless be happy, even if few pleasures accrue to him.||”|
|— Diogenes Laërtius on Anniceris|
The Cyrenaics were a school of philosophy established by Aristippus of Cyrene (c. 435 – c. 356 BCE). The school asserted that the only good is positive pleasure, and pain is the only evil. They posit that all feeling is momentary so all past and future pleasure have no real existence for an individual, and that among present pleasures there is no distinction of kind.Claudius Aelianus, in his Historical Miscellany, writes about Aristippus:
"He recommended that one should concrete on the present day, and indeed on the very part of it in which one is acting and thinking. For only the present, he said, truly belongs to us, and not what has passed by or what we are anticipating: for the one is gone and done with, and it is uncertain whether the other will come to be"
Some immediate pleasures can create more than their equivalent of pain. The wise person should be in control of pleasures rather than be enslaved to them, otherwise pain will result, and this requires judgement to evaluate the different pleasures of life.
Pyrrhonism was founded by Pyrrho (c. 360 – c. 270 BCE), and was the first Western school of philosophical skepticism. The goal of Pyrrhonist practice is to attain the state of ataraxia (ataraxia, Greek: ἀταραξία) -- freedom from perturbation. Pyrrho identified that what prevented people from attaining ataraxia was their beliefs in non-evident matters, i.e., holding dogmas. To free people from belief the ancient Pyrrhonists developed a variety of skeptical arguments.
|“||Of all the means which wisdom acquires to ensure happiness throughout the whole of life, by far the most important is friendship.||”|
Epicureanism was founded by Epicurus (c. 341 – c. 270 BCE). The goal of his philosophy was to attain a state of tranquility (ataraxia, Greek: ἀταραξία) and freedom from fear, as well as absence of bodily pain (aponia, Greek: ἀπονία). Toward these ends, Epicurus recommended an ascetic lifestyle, noble friendship, and the avoidance of politics.
One aid to achieving happiness is the tetrapharmakos or the four-fold cure:
"Do not fear god,
Do not worry about death;
What is good is easy to get, and
What is terrible is easy to endure."
( Philodemus, Herculaneum Papyrus, 1005, 4.9–14).
|“||If you work at that which is before you, following right reason seriously, vigorously, calmly, without allowing anything else to distract you, but keeping your divine part pure, as if you were bound to give it back immediately; if you hold to this, expecting nothing, but satisfied to live now according to nature, speaking heroic truth in every word that you utter, you will live happy. And there is no man able to prevent this.||”|
|— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations|
Stoicism was a school of philosophy established by Zeno of Citium (c. 334 – c. 262 BCE). While Zeno was syncretic in thought, his primary influence were the Cynics, with Crates of Thebes (c. 365 – c. 285 BCE) as his mentor.
Stoics believe that "virtue is sufficient for happiness".One who has attained this sense of virtue would become a sage. In the words of Epictetus, this sage would be "sick and yet happy, in peril and yet happy, dying and yet happy, in exile and happy, in disgrace and happy,"
The Stoics therefore spent their time trying to attain virtue. This would only be achieved if one was to dedicate their life studying Stoic logic, Stoic physics, and Stoic ethics.
The School of the Sextii was founded by Quintus Sextius the Elder (fl. 50 BCE). It characterized itself mainly as a philosophical-medical school, blending Pythagorean, Platonic, Cynic, and Stoic elements together.They argued that to achieve happiness, one ought to be vegetarian, have nightly examinations of conscience, and avoid both consumerism and politics, and believe that an elusive incorporeal power pervades the body.
|“||Nevertheless, to praise you is the desire of man, a little piece of your creation. You stir man to take pleasure in praising you, because you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.||”|
|— St. Augustine, Confessions .|
|“||The happy life is joy based on the truth. This is joy grounded in you, O God, who are the truth.||”|
|— St. Augustine, Confessions .|
St. Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430 AD) was an early Christian theologian and philosopherwhose writings influenced the development of Western Christianity and Western philosophy.
For St. Augustine, all human actions revolve around love, and the primary problem humans face is the misplacing of love.Only in God can one find happiness, as He is source of happiness. Since humanity was brought forth from God, but has since fallen, one's soul dimly remembers the happiness from when one was with God. Thus, if one orients themselves toward the love of God, all other loves will become properly ordered. In this manner, St. Augustine follows the Neoplatonic tradition in asserting that happiness lays in the contemplation of the purely intelligible realm.
St. Augustine deals with the concept of happiness directly in his treatises De beata vita and Contra Academicos.
|“||Mortal creatures have one overall concern. This they work at by toiling over a whole range of pursuits, advancing on different paths, but striving to attain the one goal of happiness.||”|
|— Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy .|
Boethius (c. 480–524 AD) was a philosopher, most famous for writing The Consolation of Philosophy . The work has been described as having had the single most important influence on the Christianity of the Middle Ages and early Renaissance and as the last great work of the Classical Period.The book describes many themes, but among them he discusses how happiness can be attainable despite changing fortune, while considering the nature of happiness and God.
He posits that happiness is acquired by attaining the perfect good, and that perfect good is God.He then concludes that as God ruled the universe through Love, prayer to God and the application of Love would lead to true happiness.
Avicenna (c. 980–1037), also known as 'Ibn-Sina', was polymath and jurist; he is regarded as one of the most significant thinkers in the Islamic Golden Age.According to him, happiness is the aim of humans, and that real happiness is pure and free from worldly interest. Ultimately, happiness is reached through the conjunction of the human intellect with the separate active intellect.
Al-Ghazali (c. 1058–1111) was a Muslim theologian, jurist, philosopher, and mystic of Persian descent. : كيمياى سعادت). In the work, he emphasizes the importance of observing the ritual requirements of Islam, the actions that would lead to salvation, and the avoidance of sin. Only by exercising the human faculty of reason - a God-given ability - can one transform the soul from worldliness to complete devotion to God, the ultimate happiness.Produced near the end of his life, al-Ghazali wrote The Alchemy of Happiness (Kimiya-yi Sa'ādat, (Persian
According to Al-Ghazali, there are four main constituents of happiness: self-knowledge, knowledge of God, knowledge of this world as it really is, and the knowledge of the next world as it really is.
Maimonides (c. 1135-1204) was a Jewish philosopher and astronomer,who became one of the most prolific and influential Torah scholars and physicians. He writes that happiness is ultimately and essentially intellectual.
|“||God is happiness by His Essence: for He is happy not by acquisition or participation of something else, but by His Essence.||”|
|— St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica|
St. Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274 AD) was a philosopher and theologian, who became a Doctor of the Church in 1323.His system syncretized Aristotelianism and Catholic theology within his Summa Theologica . The first part of the second part is divided into 114 articles, the first five deal explicitly with the happiness of humans. He states that happiness is achieved by cultivating several intellectual and moral virtues, which enable us to understand the nature of happiness and motivate us to seek it in a reliable and consistent way. Yet, one will be unable to find the greatest happiness in this life, because final happiness consists in a supernatural union with God. As such, man's happiness does not consist of wealth, status, pleasure, or in any created good at all. Most goods do not have a necessary connection to happiness, since the ultimate object of man's will, can only be found in God, who is the source of all good.
Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) was a French philosopher. Influenced by Aristotelianism and Christianity, alongside the conviction of the separation of public and private spheres of life, Montaigne writes that happiness is a subjective state of mind and that satisfaction differs from person to person.He continues by acknowledging that one must be allowed a private sphere of life to realize those particular attempts of happiness without the interference of society.
Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) was a British philosopher, jurist, and social reformer. He is regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism.
His particular brand of utilitarianism indicated that the most moral action is that which causes the highest amount of utility, where defined utility as the aggregate pleasure after deducting suffering of all involved in any action. Happiness, therefore, is the experience of pleasure and the lack of pain.Actions which do not promote the greatest happiness is morally wrong - such as ascetic sacrifice. This manner of thinking permits the possibility of a calculator to measure happiness and moral value.
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) was a German philosopher. His philosophy express that egotistical acts are those that are guided by self-interest, desire for pleasure or happiness, whereas only compassion can be a moral act.
Schopenhauer explains happiness in terms of a wish that is satisfied, which in turn gives rise to a new wish. And the absence of satisfaction is suffering, which results in an empty longing. He also links happiness with the movement of time, as we feel happy when time moves faster and feel sad when time slows down.
Władysław Tatarkiewicz (1886-1980) was a Polish philosopher, historian of philosophy, historian of art, esthetician, and ethicist.
For Tatarkiewicz, happiness is a fundamental ethical category.
Herbert Marcuse (1898–1979) was a German-American philosopher, sociologist, and political theorist, associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory.
In his 1937 essay 'The Affirmative Character of Culture,' he suggests culture develops tension within the structure of society, and in that tension can challenge the current social order. If it separates itself from the everyday world, the demand for happiness will cease to be external, and begin to become an object of spiritual contemplation.
In the One-Dimensional Man , his criticism of consumerism suggests that the current system is one that claims to be democratic, but is authoritarian in character, as only a few individuals dictate the perceptions of freedom by only allowing certain choices of happiness to be available for purchase.He further suggests that the conception that 'happiness can be bought' is one that is psychologically damaging.
|“||It is a characteristic of the American culture that, again and again, one is commanded and ordered to 'be happy.' But happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to 'be happy'.||”|
|— Viktor Frankl|
Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor and founder of logotherapy. His philosophy revolved around the emphasis on meaning, the value of suffering, and responsibility to something greater than the self;only if one encounters those questions can one be happy.
Robert Nozick (1938-2002) was an American philosopher.
In his 1974 book, Anarchy, State, Utopia , he proposed a thought experiment where one is given the option to enter a machine that would give the maximum amount of unending hedonistic pleasure for the entirety of one's life.
Scientism is the approach that the empirical sciences are the most valuable branches of learning and culture.
Happiness research is the quantitative and theoretical study of happiness, positive and negative affect, well-being, quality of life, life satisfaction and related concepts. It is especially influenced by psychologists, but also sociologists and economists have contributed. The tracking of Gross National Happiness or the satisfaction of life grow increasingly popular as the economics of happiness challenges traditional economic aims.
Richard Layard has been very influential in this area. He has shown that mental illness is the main cause of unhappiness.Other, more influential researchers are Ed Diener, Ruut Veenhoven and Daniel Kahneman.
Sonja Lyubomirsky asserted in her 2007 book, The How of Happiness, that happiness is 50 percent genetically determined (based on twin studies),10 percent circumstantial, and 40 percent subject to self-control. Lyubomirsky suggests a twelve-point program to maximize the final 40 percent.
Not all cultures seek to maximise happiness,and some cultures are averse to happiness.
Epicurus was an ancient Greek philosopher and sage who founded a highly influential school of philosophy now called Epicureanism. He was born on the Greek island of Samos to Athenian parents. Influenced by Democritus, Aristotle, Pyrrho, and possibly the Cynics, he turned against the Platonism of his day and established his own school, known as "the Garden", in Athens. Epicurus and his followers were known for eating simple meals and discussing a wide range of philosophical subjects, and he openly allowed women to join the school as a matter of policy. An extremely prolific writer, he is said to have originally written over 300 works on various subjects, but the vast majority of these writings have been lost. Only three letters written by him — the Letters to Menoeceus, Pythocles, and Herodotus — and two collections of quotes — the Principle Doctrines and the Vatican Sayings — have survived intact, along with a few fragments and quotations of his other writings. Most knowledge of his teachings comes from later authors, particularly the Roman poet Lucretius, the biographer Diogenes Laërtius, the statesman Cicero, and the philosophers Philodemus and Sextus Empiricus.
Leucippus is reported in some ancient sources to have been a philosopher who was the earliest Greek to develop the theory of atomism—the idea that everything is composed entirely of various imperishable, indivisible elements called atoms. Leucippus often appears as the master to his pupil Democritus, a philosopher also touted as the originator of the atomic theory.
Zeno of Citium was a Hellenistic philosopher of Phoenician origin from Citium, Cyprus. Zeno was the founder of the Stoic school of philosophy, which he taught in Athens from about 300 BC. Based on the moral ideas of the Cynics, Stoicism laid great emphasis on goodness and peace of mind gained from living a life of Virtue in accordance with Nature. It proved very popular, and flourished as one of the major schools of philosophy from the Hellenistic period through to the Roman era.
Epicureanism is a system of philosophy based upon the teachings of the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus, founded around 307 BC. Epicurus was an atomic materialist, following in the steps of Democritus. His materialism led him to a general attack on superstition and divine intervention. Following Aristippus—about whom very little is known—Epicurus believed that what he called "pleasure" (ἡδονή) was the greatest good, but that the way to attain such pleasure was to live modestly, to gain knowledge of the workings of the world, and to limit one's desires. This would lead one to attain a state of tranquility (ataraxia) and freedom from fear as well as an absence of bodily pain (aponia). The combination of these two states constitutes happiness in its highest form. Although Epicureanism is a form of hedonism insofar as it declares pleasure to be its sole intrinsic goal, the concept that the absence of pain and fear constitutes the greatest pleasure, and its advocacy of a simple life, make it very different from "hedonism" as colloquially understood.
Antisthenes was a Greek philosopher and a pupil of Socrates. Antisthenes first learned rhetoric under Gorgias before becoming an ardent disciple of Socrates. He adopted and developed the ethical side of Socrates' teachings, advocating an ascetic life lived in accordance with virtue. Later writers regarded him as the founder of Cynic philosophy.
Ataraxia is a Greek term first used in Ancient Greek philosophy by Pyrrho and subsequently Epicurus and the Stoics for a lucid state of robust equanimity characterized by ongoing freedom from distress and worry. In non-philosophical usage, the term was used to describe the ideal mental state for soldiers entering battle.
Hedone was the personification and goddess of pleasure, enjoyment, and delight. Hedone, also known as Voluptas in Roman mythology, is the daughter born from the union of the Greek gods Eros (Cupid) and Psyche in the realm of the immortals. She was associated more specifically with sensual pleasure. Her opposites were the Algos, personifications of pain.
Virtue ethics are normative ethical theories which emphasize virtues of mind and character. Virtue ethicists discuss the nature and definition of virtues and other related problems. These include how virtues are acquired, how they are applied in various real life contexts, and whether they are rooted in a universal human nature or in a plurality of cultures.
Speusippus was an ancient Greek philosopher. Speusippus was Plato's nephew by his sister Potone. After Plato's death, c.348 BC, Speusippus inherited the Academy, near age 60, and remained its head for the next eight years. However, following a stroke, he passed the chair to Xenocrates. Although the successor to Plato in the Academy, Speusippus frequently diverged from Plato's teachings. He rejected Plato's Theory of Forms, and whereas Plato had identified the Good with the ultimate principle, Speusippus maintained that the Good was merely secondary. He also argued that it is impossible to have satisfactory knowledge of any thing without knowing all the differences by which it is separated from everything else.
Aristo of Chios was a Stoic philosopher and colleague of Zeno of Citium. He outlined a system of Stoic philosophy that was, in many ways, closer to earlier Cynic philosophy. He rejected the logical and physical sides of philosophy endorsed by Zeno and emphasized ethics. Although agreeing with Zeno that Virtue was the supreme good, he rejected the idea that morally indifferent things such as health and wealth could be ranked according to whether they are naturally preferred. An important philosopher in his day, his views were eventually marginalized by Zeno's successors.
Platonism, rendered as a proper noun, is the philosophy of Plato or the name of other philosophical systems considered closely derived from it. In narrower usage, platonism, rendered as a common noun, refers to the philosophy that affirms the existence of abstract objects, which are asserted to "exist" in a "third realm" distinct both from the sensible external world and from the internal world of consciousness, and is the opposite of nominalism. Lower case "platonists" need not accept any of the doctrines of Plato.
Hermarchus or Hermarch, sometimes incorrectly written Hermachus, was an Epicurean philosopher. He was the disciple and successor of Epicurus as head of the school. None of his writings survive. He wrote works directed against Plato, Aristotle, and Empedocles. A fragment from his Against Empedocles, preserved by Porphyry, discusses the need for law in society. His views on the nature of the gods are quoted by Philodemus.
"Aponia" means the absence of pain, and was regarded by the Epicureans to be the height of bodily pleasure.
Hellenistic philosophy is the period of Western philosophy that was developed in the Hellenistic period following Aristotle and ending with the beginning of Neoplatonism.
This page is a list of topics in ancient philosophy.
Cynicism is a school of thought of ancient Greek philosophy as practiced by the Cynics. For the Cynics, the purpose of life is to live in virtue, in agreement with nature. As reasoning creatures, people can gain happiness by rigorous training and by living in a way which is natural for themselves, rejecting all conventional desires for wealth, power, sex, and fame. Instead, they were to lead a simple life free from all possessions.
Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in the early 3rd century BC. Stoicism is a philosophy of personal ethics informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world. According to its teachings, as social beings, the path to eudaimonia (happiness) for humans is found in accepting the moment as it presents itself, by not allowing oneself to be controlled by the desire for pleasure or fear of pain, by using one's mind to understand the world and to do one's part in nature's plan, and by working together and treating others fairly and justly.
A sage, in classical philosophy, is someone who has attained wisdom. The term has also been used interchangeably with a 'good person', and a 'virtuous person'. Among the earliest accounts of the sage begin with Empedocles' Sphairos. Horace describes the Sphairos as "Completely within itself, well-rounded and spherical, so that nothing extraneous can adhere to it, because of its smooth and polished surface." Alternatively, the sage is one who lives "according to an ideal which transcends the everyday."
Ethics is the branch of philosophy that examines right and wrong moral behavior, moral concepts and moral language. Various ethical theories pose various answers to the question "What is the greatest good?" and elaborate a complete set of proper behaviors for individuals and groups. Ethical theories are closely related to forms of life in various social orders.