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Socrates was considered the classic model of a philosopher living in eudaimonia. 1st century bust in the Louvre , Paris.

Eudemonia (also eudaemonia , ancient Greek εὐδαιμονία eudaimonia ) is a concept of ancient philosophy . The word comes from common language; in philosophical texts it describes a successful lifestyle according to the requirements and principles of a philosophical ethics and the related balanced state of mind. It is usually translated as " happiness " or "bliss". These translations are criticized as imprecise in research. This is why “eudaimonia” is often left untranslated in the specialist literature of antiquity.

For the numerous ancient thinkers who advocated a “eudaimonistic” ethic oriented towards eudaimonia, it was a matter of course that the ideal denoted by this expression is actually the goal of all people. This assumption is called the "eudaimonistic axiom ". The goal was seen as achievable in principle. The philosophers saw the arduous path to eudaimonia in their respective doctrine. A very widespread ideal associated with the objective was self-sufficiency ( autarky ). A hallmark of the good life was that one did not hope for "happiness" from external factors, but found it within oneself by behaving correctly. It was expected that one would then maintain an unshakable calmness in all situations. Rules were needed and worked out for a way of life that would make eudaimonia possible. First and foremost, this meant internalizing basic virtues . The question of whether virtues alone are sufficient or whether physical and external goods are also required was highly controversial.

Aristotle's concept of eudaimonia was particularly momentous . It was taken up again in the late Middle Ages and discussed intensively. In modern times, the ancient ideal has met with fundamental criticism since the late 18th century. Immanuel Kant thought it was wrong on principle. He coined the term “eudaemonism” for all ethical teachings in which the pursuit of happiness and not duty is the decisive reason for moral conduct. Kant's judgment of condemnation had a strong and lasting influence on the modern reception of ancient concepts. In more recent discussions of the philosophy of happiness , however, an at least partial rehabilitation of ancient ideas is becoming apparent, with the Aristotelian approach being particularly well received.


The term eudaimonia originated in the general language and was later adopted in specialist philosophical terminology. Both uses of the term have in common that eudaimonia is primarily associated with the connotation "abundance of life" and the aspect of successful activity is often in the foreground. The translation with “Glück” or “Glückseligkeit” is considered inadequate because these words have a one-sided emotional meaning in German. The Greek expression denotes not only a feeling, but an optimal lifestyle, which results from a correct attitude and is associated with an excellent mental state; happiness is only one aspect of it. The focus is on objective well-being, not subjective well-being. Not only an individual but also a state can be in eudaimonia.

The translation problem is also discussed in the English-language specialist literature. Gregory Vlastos pleads for the rendering with "happiness" , who goes into detail on the objections to this translation. John M. Cooper prefers "human flourishing". Richard Kraut contradicts him, who sees neither “flourishing” nor “well-being” as an improvement over “happiness”.

Origin and non-philosophical use of the term

A benevolent daimon. Mosaic from Antioch , 2nd century

The noun eudaimonía and the associated adjective eudaímōn (εὐδαίμων) originally come from the religious sphere. In Homer , these words do not exist, they are well developed since his time. The adjective was already used by Hesiod , the noun is first attested in Pindar . Originally, eudaimon meant "associated with a good daimon ". Accordingly, eudaimonia was in common parlance the expression for well-being and the corresponding state of mind. The gods or god-like spirits who intervene in human fate are specifically referred to as “daimones”. In a more general, impersonal sense, “Daimon” was understood to be an indefinite deity or divine power of fate, the arrangements of which determine human fate and also the individual fate it imposes. If the impression arose that someone was being looked after and encouraged by a deity or a personal guardian spirit, he was considered a eudaimon . Such a lucky person was "lucky". The opposite was the kakodaimon , the person plagued or possessed by a bad daimon - a " demon " - who was persecuted by bad luck and fared badly.

If someone was eudaimon , this could be seen in his circumstances: he was given health and a long life, his undertakings were crowned with success, he gained and retained power, honor and prosperity. Therefore, the word eudaimonia was also used as a synonym for “wealth” (ólbos) and “good luck(eutychía) . In a religious context it was a matter of course that someone so favored by divine benevolence should be pious and, as a “friend of the gods”, willingly submit to the power that governed his fate. The eudaimonia was an ideal of life, the realization of which was based on a harmonious cooperation of divine guidance and human will. Such favorable circumstances could bring human life closer to the blissful existence of the gods as much as possible for mortals. However, awareness of the imperfection and frailty of human happiness was also strong. Pindar stated that it was impossible for a person to win "the whole of eudaimonia", and Euripides in his tragedy Medea had a harbinger of doom proclaim that not a single person was happy (eudaimon) . In view of man's impotence, the inadequacy of his happiness and the irrevocability of his suffering, it was considered reprehensible arrogance to strive for happiness similar to the divine or to consider oneself the happiest of people.

Herodotus narrates that the Athenian statesman Solon , one of the " Seven Wise Men ", visited King Kroisos , who was then at the height of his power and wealth. Kroisos wanted Solon to confirm that he was the happiest person on earth. Solon countered this with his view that no one could be considered happy before his death, since fate is inconsistent and a judgment can therefore only be made after the end of life. In this narrative, Solon starts from the idea that eudaimonia consists of favorable circumstances throughout life.

At the end of his tragedy Antigone, the poet Sophocles had the choir proclaim that prudence is by far the most important thing in eudaimonia . By this he meant reflecting on what is appropriate to man; he wanted to warn of the dangers of presumptuousness which would plunge the proud.


From the 5th century BC onwards the common language became The philosophical derived, whereby eudaimon and eudaimonia underwent a change of meaning and became technical terms. Although the idea of ​​a divine guardian spirit was sometimes taken up in philosophical literature, it took a back seat and was largely displaced by new concepts. The new, specifically philosophical thought was the transfer of the power of fate into the soul . The daimon was no longer conceived of as a divine being separate from man, who arbitrarily and unpredictably controls mortals. The personal guardian spirit became an authority within the person who is responsible for his decisions. Such an inner daimon is active in the light of consciousness, its work is reasonable and rationally understandable. This fundamentally changed the understanding of eudaimonia.

The new point of view is first attested in Heraclitus († probably around 460 BC), who, in sharp delimitation from the belief of the popular religion in a god-sent fate, asserted: "For man, his ethos is his daimon." With this, Heraclitus turned against them conventional view, according to which external influences control human behavior and thus also cause failure in critical situations. By equating the daimon with ethos - the individual character and the resulting attitude - he made man himself the designer of his destiny. In doing so, however, he also made him responsible for his actions and living conditions, his luck or misfortune. At the same time, Heraclitus drastically rejected the common connection between eudaimonia and the possession of external goods by writing: "If happiness consisted in the pleasures of the body, we would call cattle happy when they found peas to eat."

In this sense, the pre-Socratic Democritus expressed himself : “Eudaimonia and unhappiness are a matter of the soul. Eudaimonia does not live in herds or in gold. The residence of the daimon is the soul. ”According to this conviction, Democritus rejected the idea of ​​a superhuman power that controls fate, the Tyche . He saw in it an image that people would have formed to use as an excuse in the face of their perplexity.

The divergence between the social and philosophical ideal of eudaimonia evidently led to alienation. The pre-Socratic Anaxagoras is said to have said that he was not surprised if someone living in eudaimonia appeared to the “many” - the public - as a strange figure.


Bust of Plato (Roman copy of the Greek Plato portrait of Silanion , Glyptothek Munich )

In Plato's writings, eudaimonia is one of the weighty subjects. The relevant core statements in his dialogues became groundbreaking for the philosophical discourse that followed. He made a sharp distinction between the pleasant state of eudaimonia as a high value and pleasure (hēdonḗ) , which he did not reject, but regarded as a good of low value. He presented his teacher Socrates , whom he made a key figure in most of his dialogues, as the model of a philosopher who lived in the spirit of the eudaimonia ideal.

In the hierarchical order of values ​​of Plato's ethics, “ the good ”, the “ Platonic idea ” of the good, has the highest rank. This means the perfect, absolute good, the good par excellence, which is understood as metaphysical reality. It exists outside of the realm of appearances and sensory perceptions, but is in principle comprehensible for the philosopher who turns to it. However, the knowledge of a Platonic idea requires not only intellectual, but also ethical qualities in its viewer. He has to adapt his mental constitution to what he desires by imitating it. Thus he himself has to become good - that is, virtuous - in order to be able to approach the good. A reversal of the whole soul - not just its rational part - is necessary. The prerequisite for this is Plato's assumption that the soul is related by nature to the divine; their godlike quality, given from the outset but temporarily lost, only needs to be regained. If this succeeds, the soul can share in the bliss of the gods.

In the Dialog Symposium , Plato has his Socrates present the doctrine that everyone strives for what is good to be bestowed on him. Whoever achieves this goal will realize in his life eudaimonia, which lies exclusively in the possession of the good. It is pointless to ask about the reason for which this state is desired, because there is no further motive behind it. Eudaimonia is not a means to the achievement of another, higher goal, but an end in itself. The desire for her is of an erotic nature, it is “the greatest and most cunning eros for everyone ”.

The question of the correct way of life and eudaimonia is discussed in detail in Plato's dialogue with Gorgias . There, too, Socrates reproduces the author's view. It reads: Good souls are characterized by prudence and self-discipline, bad souls are unrestrained and immoderate. He who controls himself is virtuous. The prudent one is necessarily also brave and just and therefore acts correctly. This means that he leads a successful life and is in a state of eudaimonia. On the other hand, whoever commits injustice acts rashly; he has failed to subordinate the chaotic desires of his soul to the rule of reason. This inevitably results in his misfortune, also and especially when he is outwardly successful and no one holds him accountable. With this provocative thesis, Socrates stands in sharp contrast to the opinion of almost all of his fellow citizens. According to the generally prevailing non-philosophical understanding of eudaimonia, powerful wrongdoers are happy because of their abundance of power. Since they do not have to fear any punishment, they can enjoy their happiness undisturbed. Socrates, on the other hand, considers the wrongdoers who escape punishment to be even more unhappy than those who have been punished. With this he encounters resolute opposition from his interlocutor Kallikles , who represents a radical anti-philosophical counter-position. Callicles cannot gain anything from the goal of permanent eudaimonia through prudence and the restraint of desires. He equates suppressing desires with renouncing life. For him, eudaimonia is the same as the pleasure that consists in cultivating and uninhibited living out of desires. According to his worldview, only the free can be happy, that is, he who rules others and does not have to serve anyone himself. Callicles pleads for the satisfaction of desires as the highest priority, but does not expect a lasting state of happiness from it. In his view, constant eudaimonia is not even desirable, because for him everything static is as inanimate as a stone. He considers the philosophical striving for permanent eudaimonia to be fundamentally wrong, since life can only be pleasant if there is a constant alternation of pleasure and displeasure.

Similar considerations as in Gorgias are made by Plato in the dialogues Politeia and Nomoi , where he talks about the luck and misfortune of rulers and citizens. In the nomoi he describes the eudaimonia of the citizens as the goal of legislation and states that large differences in property are detrimental to it and therefore undesirable; a very rich man cannot be good and therefore not happy either. Plato considers a state to be eudaimon if it has a good constitution that structures it correctly, and if it is governed according to philosophical principles.

The subject of the good life is also touched upon in the Euthydemos dialogue . Here, too, Plato's Socrates starts from the finding, which is found to be trivial, that all people strive to be well. According to conventional understanding, a good life means having an abundant supply of “goods”. This includes wealth, health, beauty, power and prestige, but also virtues such as prudence , justice and bravery as well as wisdom . The most important good is success (eutychía) . This is where Socrates' analysis comes in: In any field, success can only be achieved for the competent, for those who have the necessary knowledge. Hence, what man needs most is knowledge or insight. Since the knower understands the context, he always acts correctly and is successful in everything. Resources such as wealth and power are of value only when they are used properly, and this requires proper understanding. He who has this acts sensibly and wisely, and his external goods are to his advantage. However, those who have no insight (phrónēsis) and wisdom (sophía) even damage their resources. Things are in themselves neither good nor bad, only wisdom makes them good and folly makes them evil. Therefore it is the task of every person to strive for wisdom in the first place. If he succeeds in doing this, he will attain eudaimonia.

The question of whether Plato viewed virtue only as a means to achieve eudaimonia (“instrumental interpretation”) or whether he also regarded it as a component of eudaimonia (“constitutive interpretation”) is controversial in research.


The writer Xenophon , a contemporary of Plato, who also belonged to the circle of Socrates, had the famous thinker appear in fictional conversations in his memoirs of Socrates (Memorabilia) . In one of the scenes, a conversation partner of Socrates claims that eudaimonia - here in the general linguistic sense as "happiness" - is apparently "the most undisputed good". Socrates argues that this is only true if this property is not composed of questionable components such as beauty, strength, wealth and fame, which are often the cause of great misfortune. With this he confuses his interlocutor, who has taken it for granted that one cannot be happy without these goods.

Xenophon, like Plato, assumed a close connection between virtue and eudaimonia, whereby he understood virtue in the then common sense as general efficiency or excellence ( aretḗ ) , not just as virtue in the modern moral sense. He saw in virtue the knowledge of how to achieve happiness. In his impression, Socrates was the most virtuous and therefore also the happiest person. However, Xenophon did not attribute happiness exclusively to virtue, but also considered a certain external success to be a prerequisite for eudaimonia. He said that in order to feel happy, people must be successful in their occupation, be aware of their success and therefore be satisfied with themselves. He also needs praise and recognition. Happiness cannot be achieved without effort and effort, and effortlessly attainable pleasure is not one of them.

For Xenophon, this posed the question of what happens to eudaimonia when someone is capable, but cannot fulfill his task due to adverse circumstances. If the happiness of all people is based on the successful execution of their work, someone who is prevented from doing his usual occupation, for example, by old age, must be without happiness and thus lose the meaning of life. The aging person feels that his life is getting worse and worse, his ability to think decreases and he can no longer be satisfied with himself. After the loss of efficiency, life is no longer worth living in Xenophon's judgment. Xenophon therefore assessed the death of Socrates, who was executed at the age of seventy, positively from this point of view: the death sentence was quite desirable to the old philosopher, because through the execution he escaped the age-related loss of eudaimonia. He was happy that he could die in time without having lived in misery.

Xenophon placed emphasis on the social dimension of the pursuit of happiness. He thought it was important not to be content with striving for one's own eudaimonia directly, but also to help others in the rightly understood self-interest to achieve the desired state. In particular, he saw it as the duty of those in leadership positions to encourage their subordinates, companions, and friends in their search for eudaimonia.


Antisthenes († after 366 BC), a well-known student of Socrates and founder of his own school, believed that virtue or ability was teachable and theoretically sufficient for attaining eudaimonia. To put it into practice, however, you also need the willpower of a Socrates. Virtue is realized in action. With this, Antisthenes acknowledged the Socratic principle that morally good behavior leads to eudaimonia and therefore a virtuous life has to be the primary task. However, he did not share the view, according to Plato, of Socrates, that ethical knowledge inevitably results in correct behavior. Rather, he taught that the practical realization of what was recognized as good presupposed a special “force”. He recommended arduous exertion, which is a good. One should limit oneself to the satisfaction of the elementary needs, which can be achieved with the simplest means, and renounce any further comfort demands. Apparently he was thinking that one should live ascetically and expose oneself to specific strains and efforts in order to gain the strength required for the practice of virtue through practice and thus to achieve eudaimonia.


Aristotle (bust in the Palazzo Altemps , Rome)

Plato's pupil Aristotle took up the ideas of his teacher. But he modified it because he rejected the Platonic doctrine of ideas and therefore did not associate eudaimonia with grasping the idea of ​​the good.

Eudaimonia as the highest good and ultimate goal

Like Plato, Aristotle was convinced that every activity has a goal that must be something from the perspective of the agent. According to the Aristotelian doctrine, the goals are ordered hierarchically; a subordinate goal is always striven for for the sake of a higher priority. Ultimately, there is only one single ultimate goal to which all other goals are subordinate. If such an end goal did not exist, human striving would have to advance into the infinite and would be empty and meaningless. The ultimate goal is to attain the very good that is at the forefront of goods. Thus the main task of philosophical ethics is to determine what the highest good consists of.

The highest good and ultimate goal can only be that which is always desired exclusively for its own sake and never for any other, higher purpose. This only applies to eudaimonia, for all other goods, including insight and every ability or virtue, are sought not only for their own sake, but also because eudaimonia is hoped for from them. The main characteristic of eudaimonia is its self-sufficient character: taken in isolation, it makes life desirable and nowhere leaves a defect open. It is completed because there is nothing else that can add to its value when added to it. Thus it alone is the highest value and the ultimate goal.

The ultimate goal is identical for the individual and for the community - the polis or the ethnic group . In the community, however, it appears more significantly and more fully, both while it is being achieved and when securing what has been gained. The eudaimonia that the individual attains for himself is indeed an important achievement, but that which is bestowed on whole peoples or states is even more beautiful and sublime. It is the task of statecraft to provide the knowledge necessary to achieve general eudaimonia. Aristotle looks at eudaimonia from a supra-individual point of view. For him, the individual's striving for happiness is not “egotistical”, because it is not about an individual interest, but about the general interest of the genus endowed with reason. What man can and should as a rational being is nothing other than what nature intended for him, but which can only be realized through conscious action.

Different ideas about eudaimonia

In the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle, the different ideas about eudaimonia are examined. Almost everyone agrees that eudaimonia is the highest good attainable through action and that it is to be equated with good life and good activity. But what exactly is meant by this, opinions differ. Under happiness, the crowd imagines tangible and obvious things such as lust, prosperity and honor. The sick see it in health, the poor in wealth.

According to Aristotle's classification, a distinction must be made between three forms of life corresponding to the various concepts of happiness: life of pleasure, life in the service of the state and life as a devotion to philosophy. To elevate enjoyment to the highest value is the obviously wrong decision of the crowd, the particularly coarse natures. On the other hand, those who devote themselves to statecraft are noble and active people. But their motive is inadequate, because they seek eudaimonia in honor. This means that they shift the goal to something external, which cannot be the highest good. Those hungry for fame make themselves dependent on those from whom they hope to be recognized, instead of striving for self-sufficiency. The quality with which they justify their claim to honor is the efficiency that arete . It is therefore of greater value than fame. But even this cannot be of the highest value and identical with eudaimonia, for as a capable person one can certainly be burdened with the greatest suffering and misfortune. Thus, the only way to optimally realize eudaimonia is to live as a philosopher.

The more detailed definition of eudaimonia

According to the teaching of Aristotle, the highest good can neither consist in pleasure nor in a “platonic idea” - an abstract metaphysical fact beyond the sensually perceptible world. Rather, what is good for people, eudaimonia, must be something that is based entirely on their achievements and is realized by them through a certain activity. As Aristotle emphasizes, as opposed to Plato, it is not a matter of a state or a disposition of the soul, because an ability can never be an end in itself. If one has all the good dispositions but is prevented from doing so, there is no question of a good life. Static properties or goods do not constitute eudaimonia, but it must be a mode of activity. For this only one activity comes into consideration, which characterizes the human being as such and distinguishes it from all other living beings; Eudaimonia is something specifically human. This means that it can only be an activity of reason, the nous . Aristotle defines it as an activity according to perfect virtue in a whole life, or if there are several virtues, according to the most excellent of them. When examining the activity of reason, he distinguishes between “practical” and “theoretical” reason. Practical reason is the insight that is needed to deal with ephemeral things. “Theoretical” in the sense of “contemplating” is the rational activity that focuses on the eternal and unchangeable and enables knowledge of the fundamental principles. With it, the truth is viewed for its own sake, one pursues a science that is not tied to a specific purpose. Anyone who devotes himself to such contemplation (theōría) thereby realizes his eudaimonia in the best possible way. He practices the theoretical way of life which Aristotle believes is the best.

An intensive research discussion revolves around the question of what kind of activity, for Aristotle, eudaimonia in the sense of a good life consists. According to one direction of interpretation (“dominant end”, “dominant interpretation”, “exclusive interpretation”) only the theoretical activity of the Aristotelian philosopher is constitutive for his eudaimonia. Although the philosopher practices the practical virtues in dealing with his family and fellow citizens, this is not a good that he strives for for his own sake, but only a means. The politician's eudaimonia, on the other hand, lies only in his virtuous political activity; philosophical contemplation is not a goal for him and is not part of his life. The exclusive or dominant interpretation was set out and favored in 1965 by William Francis Ross Hardie , who opened the debate, and reformulated in 1992 by Peter Stemmer . According to another interpretation (“inclusive end”, “inclusive interpretation”), eudaimonia consists of activities of a person in two mutually independent areas: the first-rate, theoretical area of ​​philosophical endeavors and the second-rate area of ​​practical politics, statecraft. This is the view taken by John Lloyd Ackrill in 1974 in his reply to Hardie's essay. A number of philosophical historians followed either direction, while others tried to find a compromise. According to another hypothesis, both activities are constitutive, but not independent of one another, but rather parts of a coherent whole. The structure of their interaction is strictly hierarchical; Theoretical activity is the leading and unifying activity, it should be supported in the best possible way by the political.

Requirements and obstacles of eudaimonia

According to Aristotle's understanding, eudaimonia is a permanent activity “in a full human life” and is associated with self-sufficiency. Therefore, the question arises to what extent autarky and thus also eudaimonia can be restricted or abolished by external factors to which one is exposed. For example, a person can live a long time in bliss but plunge into grave disaster in old age. According to the answer that Aristotle gives to this question, eudaimonia is indeed the fruit of philosophical endeavors, but the external living conditions must not be neglected as insignificant. A minimum level of favoritism from living conditions is essential; when external unhappiness and suffering prevail, eudaimonia becomes impossible. Reasonable effort alone cannot guarantee happiness. For example, if someone suffers such severe strokes of fate as the Trojan king Priam , he cannot be called happy, even if he philosophizes. It is hardly possible to excel in noble deeds without having resources like money, political influence, and support from friends. Disgusting looks, low social status, loneliness and childlessness, miserable children, bad friends, or loss of loved ones are circumstances that are incompatible with happiness. When "some philosophers" claim that a virtuous person is still in eudaimonia because of his inner excellence even when tortured, "with or without intent, they just talk nonsense".

The question to be asked is which factors favor, bring about and constitute eudaimonia and which hinder or destroy it and produce its opposite. From a philosophical point of view, eudaimonia is to be defined as "successful action, combined with virtue or self-sufficiency in life". However, since the external living conditions and the suitability of one's own body also play a role, other common terms of "happiness" must be used in addition: "the most pleasant life associated with security" and "the abundance of possessions and physical goods associated with the ability to do so to preserve and deal with it ”. Aristotle elaborates on the details of external and physical goods. Among other things, he names noble origins, numerous and valuable friendships, wealth, good and numerous offspring, good living conditions in old age, health, beauty, strength, reputation, efficiency and favorable fortunes. From these points of view, bliss is a gift from Godhead. However, as Aristotle points out, external goods are not needed in abundance; modest, moderate equipment with them is sufficient. The most important aspect of happiness is the individual contribution of the person who achieves eudaimonia by learning, practicing, acting ethically and diligently striving for efficiency. However, the ability to acquire and practice proficiency or virtue is not a given. It also depends on external circumstances, in particular on an upbringing that promotes character formation. Aristotle therefore calls for legislation to ensure proper upbringing and familiarization with ethical proficiency. In his view, lusts are largely inferior, but in principle lust is not something alien to eudaimonia, but belongs to it. Aristotle agrees with the “general belief” that the blissful life is a life full of joy and that lust is intertwined with happiness.

Aristotle considered friendship to be the most important of all external goods. He dealt particularly with the question of why the blessed one needs friends despite his self-sufficiency. His answer was that man is by nature intended to live together and that no one wishes to have all goods for himself alone. So only a social life for the blissful comes into consideration. Then it is obviously better to spend life in a community of friends than to live among strangers and casual acquaintances. Furthermore, since Aristotle saw eudaimonia as being active, opportunities for virtuous activity were essential to a successful life. In particular, he included the opportunity to do good things to friends.

The assumption that non-psychic goods are necessary, i.e. that eudaimonia cannot be brought about and preserved solely by optimizing the inner-psychic relationships, is a main feature of Aristotelian ethics. The good life therefore not only depends on the correct behavior of people, but also on factors that are largely beyond their influence. To a certain extent, the philosopher is also at the mercy of fate. This raises the question of the nature of the relationship between external factors and eudaimonia. The function of non-psychic goods is not clearly determined by Aristotle. It is primarily instrumental: these goods are means of a practice guided by the arete . In addition, they also have a non-instrumental relation to eudaimonia in the sense that they appear as additional attributes of a successful life. It is unclear whether, for this reason, Aristotle regards external and physical goods as integral components of eudaimonia, i.e. assigns them the status of independent components of bliss. If this is the case, then, according to his doctrine, eudaimonia is not a purely spiritual good, but an aggregate of goods, a sum of goods of different classes.

For Aristotle there is no doubt that eudaimonia is bestowed on everyone only to the extent that he deserves it. Everyone achieves as much of her as he possesses excellent character and reason and acts in accordance with it. Since eudaimonia presupposes a noble activity, it remains inaccessible to children as well as animals, since they are not capable of noble action.

Eudaimonia as a cause of misfortune

When examining bravery, Aristotle pointed out a paradoxical effect of eudaimonia: it could increase misfortune. The more capable and happier someone is, the more painful death is for him, because his life is particularly worth living and he is fully consciously robbed of the greatest goods if he falls in battle.

Eudoxus from Knidos

The scientist Eudoxus of Knidos († probably 345/338 BC), who belonged to Plato's circle but developed his own philosophy and founded his own school, determined joy as the highest good. In the doctrine of goods he contradicted Plato's view. As part of his hedonistic concept, he interpreted eudaimonia as joy.

Early Platonists

In the Platonic Academy , the philosophy school founded by Plato, the topic remained topical after the death of the founder. The Platonists stuck to the principle that the daimon should not be sought in the outside world, but in one's own soul and that eudaimonia should therefore be achieved by turning inwards. Speusippos († 339/338 BC), Plato's successor as head ( scholarch ) of the academy, defined eudaimonia as a perfect constitution (héxis) in accordance with nature. According to his teaching, it is brought about by virtues or "abilities" and is a state to which all people strive; the “good guys” are concerned with privacy (aochlēsía) , that is, freedom from pain and freedom from distraction through pleasure, which is also perceived as annoying. In the ideal of freedom from pain and pleasure, a state of calm without affect, the anti-hedonistic character of the ethics of Speusippus is expressed. He attached great importance to the fact that neither pleasant nor unpleasant external disturbing factors impair the calmness of mind.

Xenocrates († 314/313 BC), a student of Plato and long-time scholarch as the successor of Speusippos, wrote a treatise on eudaimonia , which has not been preserved. He defined eudaimonia as the possession of the specifically human arete (ability, excellence) and the necessary means, to which he counted external and physical goods. Thus he made eudaimonia not exclusively dependent on mental fitness or virtue, but also approved of living conditions a role. According to his doctrine, the "proficiencies" cause eudaimonia and at the same time go into it as components. In addition to stable character attitudes, he also named temporary characteristics and the corresponding individual actions and movements as components of eudaimonia. With this consideration of the practical aspect, the active execution, Xenocrates approached the Aristotelian understanding of eudaimonia.

Herakleides Ponticos († after 322 BC) wrote a now lost dialogue about eudaimonia. He handed down a definition of eudaimonia, ascribed to the pre-Socratic Pythagoras , as knowledge of the perfection of numbers, which probably meant a perfect mathematical order of the soul.

Plato's secretary Philip of Opus is very likely the author of the dialogue Epinomis, which in antiquity was wrongly ascribed to Plato . At the beginning of this work the question of the reachability of eudaimonia is raised. An unnamed participant in the conversation from Athens expressed the view that happiness is unattainable for the vast majority of people during their earthly life; few could attain it. But there is hope of experiencing it after death in an otherworldly existence if one has made a valiant effort to lead a good life. In no way can humanity be called happy. After a long, necessarily arduous life, no sane person could wish to go through another human life. The analysis of the usefulness of different subject areas finally leads the Athenians to the conclusion that mathematics is an indispensable prerequisite for the attainment of virtue, wisdom and thus eudaimonia. In the last part of his remarks, he states that the task of the wisdom seeker is to understand the cosmic order in its entirety and in its individual aspects. The path of knowledge leads from the apprehension of the manifold to the understanding of a comprehensive unity, with the knower ultimately also moving from plurality to unity with regard to his own person, becoming "one" and thus participating in eternal eudaimonia. Only the few appropriately gifted could successfully follow the path of the necessary efforts.

Hellenism and the Roman Empire

In the epoch of Hellenism , the question of the conditions for a successful and happy life continued to be the focus of the philosophical ethical discourse. The individual prerequisites for the “good life” came to the fore over the collective aspects relating to the quality of the state order. Malte Hossenfelder describes this subjectification as the “privatization of happiness”, which from then on had a decisive influence on Western teachings of happiness. The rival philosophy schools developed different teachings of the eudaimonistic goal in life. Almost all philosophers had in common the adherence to the principle of the decisive importance of arete , the "ability" of a person in fulfilling their tasks and shaping their life. The arete was seen as a means of achieving the desired bliss or peace of mind. In some teachings it has also been seen as an essential element of this state or even equated with it. As a term for the ethical ideal, the traditional term eudaimonia remained in use in Platonic and Aristotelian circles, while other terms were preferred in other schools of philosophy.

An important topic was the Aristotelian thesis that the self-sufficiency of the ethically correct living is subject to restrictions due to factors that are not dependent on human will. It provided the occasion for an ongoing discussion of the question of the limits of internal independence from external circumstances.

The Academy and the Middle Platonists

In the Platonic Academy, Polemon of Athens († probably 270/269 BC) practiced from 314/313 BC. Until his death from the office of Scholarchen. The demand for a natural life played a central role in his ethics. By this he meant a way of life corresponding to human nature. By invoking nature as the norm, he wanted to counter arbitrary stipulations and claims. His concept of life according to nature was probably linked to the Speusippos definition of eudaimonia. According to his teaching, the nature of man emerges in the activities in which the virtue of the soul is expressed. Eudaimonia results from virtuous action that is to be practiced; External goods are not a necessary prerequisite for this. Eudaimonia includes the inner-soul harmony between the reasonable and the unreasonable part of the soul. Krantor von Soloi († 276/275 BC) examined the question of the importance of wealth, lust, health and arete for eudaimonia. He assigned arete first and health second.

In the era of the "Younger Academy" (268/264 BC - 88/86 BC), when epistemological skepticism prevailed, academics considered it impossible to know the truth with unmistakable certainty. The most famous academic skeptic, Karneades of Cyrene († 129/128 BC), took as the starting point of his considerations the traditional view that the “good life” is the goal of practical philosophy, like health is the goal of medicine is. However, he did not take a position on the question of what exactly constitutes a good life or eudaimonia, but rather abstained from making a judgment in accordance with the general reluctance of skeptics. He also left open whether striving in and of itself represents the goal and brings about eudaimonia, or whether only the success of the endeavors is to be regarded as the goal. Karneades put together the different answers of the philosophers to these questions and put forward arguments against them in order to show the vulnerability of all positions and thus the impossibility of compelling evidence.

Philon von Larisa († 84/83 BC), the last scholarch of the academy, came to the opinion that knowledge can in principle be attained, even though it is subject to a tolerable residual uncertainty. In doing so, he moved away from academic skepticism. He investigated the question of how, as a philosopher, a person who is ignorant of philosophy can be led to insight and thus to eudaimonia in several steps of instruction. First of all, the meaning of a virtuous philosophical life should be shown and criticism of this concept refuted, then false, harmful opinions about goods and evils should be eliminated and replaced with beneficial ones. Then the understanding of the ultimate goal, eudaimonia, is to be generated.

Antiochus of Ascalon , who lived in the early 1st century BC. BC founded a new Platonic schooling, saw the highest good of man and thus the goal of life in living according to human nature. This should be brought to perfection in every respect - not only in character, but also on the physical level - so that nothing is lacking. Therefore, one shouldn't deny physical goods any intrinsic value. In the realm of the physical, too, there is something natural that is worth striving for for its own sake and even contributes to the attainment of the highest goal. External goods such as friends, wealth, honor and power are less important, but not insignificant. Although they are not necessary for a life according to human nature, they are nevertheless valuable and desirable in themselves. Antiochus adhered to the traditional Platonic principle that spiritual goods, virtues, deserve priority in principle and that a virtuous character alone suffices to attain eudaimonia. Only the basic virtues of prudence, moderation, bravery and justice are necessary for this. Therefore, a successful, happy life is always possible through your own decision; physical and external obstacles and evils could not prevent it. Antiochus, however, did not share the radical view of those who denied any influence on eudaimonia from all non-psychic goods. Rather, he made gradations within eudaimonia and viewed the non-psychic goods as factors that led to an increase in happiness. Their possession enables the virtuous to have a perfectly happy life, while the spiritual and spiritual goods alone could only guarantee a happy life. For a perfectly happy life, the non-psychic goods are to be understood as constituent components.

The Middle Platonists of the imperial period professed the principle of the self-sufficiency of virtuous people living in eudaimonia. Most of the time they emphatically rejected the Aristotelian concept of eudamony, which attributed relevance to random goods. But the idea of ​​a compromise like the solution of Antiochus also met with approval from time to time. In the 2nd century, the Middle Platonist Attikos vehemently opposed Aristotle's doctrine of goods. He defended the Platonic thesis, according to which virtue alone is sufficient to achieve eudaimonia, against the Aristotelian doctrine, according to which physical and external goods are also required for the desired state. Attikos polemicized against the assertion that happiness also depends on noble origins, physical beauty and wealth. In this he saw a low and erroneous thinking that made eudaimonia dependent on chance and thus degraded it. The Middle Platonist Alcinous , who probably lived in the 2nd century, also rejected the Aristotelian doctrine of Eudaimony. In his “textbook (didaskalikós) of the principles of Plato” he wrote that, according to the Platonic doctrine, eudaimonia does not lie in human goods, but in the “divine and blessed”. Whoever has knowledge of the first principle, the idea of ​​the good, participates in eudaimonia to the highest degree, even if there is no external success at all. Even evils like exile and death could not change that. On the other hand, those who do not have such knowledge cannot be helped in the least by wealth, power, health, strength and beauty.

The peripatetic

Even in Peripatos , Aristotle's school of philosophy, interest in the subject continued after the founder's death. In the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC The Peripatetics tried to defend the concept of Aristotle against criticism. Theophrast (372 / 369–288 / 285 BC), the successor of Aristotle as headmaster, and Straton von Lampsakos († 270/267 BC), the third scholarch of Peripatos, devoted special treatises to eudaimonia are lost today.

The Peripatetics represented different views on the question of whether the meaning of the goods outside of the soul for eudaimonia is to be understood purely instrumentally or whether they form a part of it - albeit a small one - and thus happiness represents an aggregate of goods (symplḗrōma agathṓn) .

In an outline of the peripatetic ethics handed down by Johannes Stobaios , which contains material from at least one unknown peripatetic work and is traced back to a now lost manual by the doxographer Areios Didymos, there is a representation of the doctrine of eudaimony. According to what has been said there, virtue is far superior to physical and external goods, both in terms of its intrinsic value and its effectiveness. Therefore, the philosophical goal in life cannot be defined as the summation of spiritual, physical and external goods. Rather, it is a life according to virtue in the midst of all or most and most important physical and external goods. The non-psychic goods should accompany life, but are not part of eudaimonia, but only instruments. When they exist, they only make a contribution to bringing about the good life. This is justified by the fact that eudaimonia is based on action, but that none of the goods outside the soul is an activity. Eudaimonia is defined as a virtuous activity in actions that are endowed as desired. However, in this variant of the peripatetic ethics, the value of goods outside of the soul is estimated to be significantly higher than that of Aristotle. An unknown peripatetic, whose view Stobaius shares, reveals in his examination of a radically ascetic point of view that he is devoted to the comforts of life. He thinks that virtue itself only brings about beautiful deeds, whereas eudaimonia produces beautiful and good ones. Those who live in eudaimonia do not want to endure terrible situations, but want to enjoy the goods and receive justice in the community. He does not renounce the beauty of contemplation or the things necessary in life. Eudaimonia need not be associated with renunciation, it is something very pleasant and very beautiful.

The Aristotle commentator Aspasios , who lived in the 2nd century , dealt with the question of whether eudaimonia is generated by a practical activity or is associated with the life of contemplation. One answer was important for clarifying the philosopher's relationship to political activity. The problem arose because the relevant statements of Aristotle seemed contradictory. Aspasios left various possible solutions open. According to one possible explanation, eudaimonia consists in an activity according to perfect virtue, which is the sum of all practical and theoretical virtues. Another possibility, favored by Aspasios, is the model of a double eudaimonia: a practical, less perfect and a theoretical, better one. Using examples, Aspasios defended the necessity of certain physical and external goods. Their absence is an obstacle not only to eudaimonia but also to virtuous action.

The well-known Aristotle commentator Alexander von Aphrodisias lived at the turn of the 2nd to the 3rd century . In a text ascribed to him, the mantissa , a multitude of arguments are put forward that are supposed to show that virtue alone is not enough to achieve eudaimonia. Among other things, it is asserted that humans show a natural inclination towards the goods outside of the soul. From this it can be seen that such goods must be relevant for eudaimonia, because something natural cannot be meaningless, but must have a purpose, and in the present case this consists in an essential contribution to achieving the goal in life. If the wise man can choose between virtue alone and virtue together with goods outside of the soul, he chooses the latter, and this shows that these goods are not trivial.

The Hellenistic Stoics

The Stoics , like the Platonics and the Peripatetics, saw in eudaimonia the ultimate goal (télos) , for the sake of which everything is done and which itself is not subordinate to any higher purpose. For them, what constitutes eudaimonia was the good life in accordance with the Logos (the divine world order) or - in other words - with nature. However, they did not consider everything natural to be ethically relevant. In rejecting hedonism, they agreed with the Platonists and the Peripatetics. They came into sharp contrast to the peripatetics, however, when determining the requirements of the ideal state that was striven for, because they considered the virtue based on knowledge to be the only thing that counts for the good life. According to their teaching, virtue is not only necessary, but also sufficient, for the optimal human condition. The virtuous sage is necessarily always eudaimon . Eudaimonia is not caused by positive consequences of virtue, but rather it is what constitutes the ideal state that is striven for. Virtue and eudaimonia are only distinguished conceptually; in substance they are the same. The external living conditions are completely irrelevant for the good life. They can neither promote nor impair eudaimonia and are therefore part of the adiaphora , the things that are irrelevant with regard to the goal. Eudaimonia is not graduated, but either fully or not at all. The stoic thesis is that the wise man is happy even if he is tortured. The Stoics did not shrink from this consequence of their convictions. In doing so, they took a radical opposite position to Aristotle's doctrine of goods. This disagreement sparked heated controversy between Stoics and Peripatetics. Theophrast's pertinent writing, which was apparently considered the authoritative representation of the peripatetic position, was a preferred target of the Stoics. The stoic argument was put forward that no factors alien to virtue could in any way contribute to eudaimonia, because otherwise eudaimonia would not be virtuous in its entirety and therefore not perfect, but rather be tainted with something inferior. On the other hand, from a peripatetic point of view, the objection was raised that eudaimonia results from the virtuous activity of the soul and the use of material resources does not affect its virtuous character any more than the use of a flute or a surgical instrument diminishes the art of the musician or that of the doctor.

Chrysippos of Soloi (281 / 277-208 / 204 BC), one of the most notable spokesmen of the Stoa, determined the goal as life according to the experience-based knowledge of what naturally occurs. In doing so, he made the study of nature - by which he meant both the nature of the world and that of man - a prerequisite for correct life and eudaimonia. With this consideration he demanded a scientific justification of ethics. Another influential Stoic, Panaitios of Rhodes (185 / 180–110 / 109 BC), modified the target formula somewhat. For him, the goal was a life according to the starting points given by nature, that is, with the training and development of the individual dispositions within the framework of the moral principles that result from general human nature. With that he introduced a new idea: Eudaimonia can be achieved in different ways. Since Panaitios saw virtue in the realization of what is morally commanded, taking into account that the possibility of realization depends on the physical condition and external circumstances, he softened the stoic dogma of the insignificance of the goods outside of the soul. But he stuck to the principle that moral good is the only good.

Poseidonios , a famous stoic of the first half of the 1st century BC. Chr., Critically dealt with the previous stoic definitions of the life goal and found a new formulation. He determined the goal as a life in which one recognizes the truth and order of the universe by looking at it and helps to realize it to the best of one's ability by not letting oneself be carried away by the unreasonable soul. According to this, the goal is both to learn about nature and to participate in the realization of the world order by putting oneself in order. Like the older Stoic tradition, Poseidonios denied health and the favorable living conditions the status of goods and made eudaimonia dependent solely on the moral good, but like Panaitios ascribed a certain value to the favorable living conditions. This concession was presented in a coarser way in the later tradition, and the false impression arose that he had given up the stoic dogma in the doctrine of goods.

The Cynics

The Cynics advocated as the Stoics an ideal of ascetic self-sufficiency and inner freedom. They shared the stoic conviction that the wise man is self-sufficient thanks to his virtue and that the good life can be realized if one ends the emotional dependence on needs, passions and external circumstances. In contrast to the Stoics, however, the Cynics considered the gain of knowledge through theoretical studies and philosophical lessons to be superfluous. As pure practitioners, they took the position that all that matters was the implementation of self-sufficiency in everyday life.

The most famous spokesman for Cynicism was in the 4th century BC. Active Diogenes of Sinope . He emphasized the need to strengthen willpower and harden the body in order to gain the superior attitude of insensitivity ( apátheia ) to both physical suffering and lust . With practice one can master everything, whereas without it nothing in life can be achieved. It is only a matter of directing the effort on the natural, instead of on the useless luxury of civilization, then one can live in eudaimonia. Those who practice voluntary poverty have nothing to lose and look forward to possible strokes of fate calmly because they are well equipped for it. Diogenes did not reject pleasure; he only objected emphatically to making it the criterion of happiness, and maintained that freedom from the need for pleasure is the greatest pleasure. To equate happiness with pleasure or to make it dependent on it appeared to the Cynics as a fundamental, fatal mistake that leads to suffering. A peculiarity of the Cynical way was the consistent rejection and demonstrative contempt of all social norms. The Cynics regarded the inner dependence on the rules of behavior of society as a great obstacle to freedom and eudaimonia. Their concept of eudaimonia stood in sharp contrast to the common non-philosophical notions of happiness, which included everything that the Cynics despised: prosperity, power and prestige.

The Epicureans

Epicurus († 271/270 BC), the founder of the Epicurean school, wrote that you have to practice what eudaimonia gives you, “whether we have everything because it is there, or whether we do everything to to reach it because it is not there ”. With the followers of his teaching, the Epicureans , as in the other great schools, the "good life" was the goal of all action. For them, too, autarky, independence from external circumstances, was a central element of a successful philosophical life. They agreed with the followers of the other main tendencies in the conviction that what matters is the inner attitude over which man himself is master and which he has to shape in such a way that the best possible life is achieved. A fundamental deviation of Epicureanism from the other major currents, however, consisted in the determination of the goal. For the Epicureans, this was pleasure which, as hedonists, they made the greatest good. This meant that eudaimonia ceased to exist as an independent condition; it was not differentiated from pleasure. However, Epicurus did not understand optimal pleasure in the philosophical sense as the most intense sensual pleasure, but painlessness and complete inner peace ( ataraxia ) as a permanent state. He taught that this state can be attained through reasonable discernment, through virtue, and through renunciation of harmful desires. However, he saw no value in virtue in itself, but only understood it as a means of pleasure. For example, he found that the righteous enjoy the greatest peace of mind, while the unjust is filled with inner unrest. He placed great emphasis on sober reflection and on overcoming fear through insight. He opposed the tendency to dissatisfaction with his high regard for frugality. Thus, the Epicurean idea of ​​the good life shows considerable similarities with the eudaimonia concepts of the other main directions, but also differs significantly from them.

Epicurus introduced rules of conduct for practical implementation. According to his teaching, if one adheres to the Epicurean principles, as a person one leads the life of a god. In doing so, Epicurus relied on his own life as evidence of the correctness of his view. He did not consider education ( paideia ) to be necessary, as it did nothing to achieve eudaimonia. On the other hand, he regarded friendship as indispensable, which was cultivated with devotion among the Epicureans.

The Cyrenaics

Outside the prevailing consensus on the high value of virtue and the moral good stood the Cyrenaic , a smaller movement. They considered sensations to be the only reality accessible and relevant to man. As radical hedonists, they were convinced that pleasure was the only real good for all living beings and that pain was the ultimate evil. According to their doctrine, nothing is inherently just and good or reprehensible; rather, such evaluations are based only on convention and custom. Therefore, moral behavior in itself is of no value. One should adhere to the moral norms of society, but not for the sake of morality itself, but only to avoid punishment and inconvenience and thus avoid a decrease in pleasure. In the context of such a system, eudaimonia could only be meaningfully defined as the sum of the individual pleasure sensations or as permanent pleasure. The Cyrenaists believed that such an accumulation of pleasure sensations was very difficult to achieve, since the opposing discomfort factors could hardly be completely eliminated. Besides, eudaimonia is not worth striving for for its own sake; Only the individual sensations of pleasure from which they are composed are valuable. One direction of the Cyrenaics, the Hegesiakers named after Hegesias , taught that there were so many disappointments as well as physical and mental complaints that eudaimonia was in principle unattainable.

The question of whether Cyrenean hedonism is to be interpreted as a fundamental rejection of eudaimonism or whether it can be described in a broad sense as eudaimonistic is controversial in research. Researchers who interpret it as a non-eudaimonistic doctrine see it as the only exception to the eudaimonistic consensus of the ancient philosophers.

The Pyrrhonic skeptics

Even the non-academic skeptics , who denied that certain knowledge could be found in the teachings of the various philosophical schools, represented an ideal of eudaimonia. They believed that the rejection of all “dogmatic” claims to possession of the truth would make the desired state possible. The founder of this direction, Pyrrhon von Elis (approx. 365/360 - approx. 275/270 BC), did not write any writings, but his views (“pyrrhonic skepticism”) can be roughly determined according to the information of his student Timon von Phleius reconstruct. Pyrrhon impressed his contemporaries with the way he lived. He appeared to his admirers as a model of a person who remained calm; he gave the impression of living in a way that corresponded to common ideas of philosophical eudaimonia. It is unclear whether Pyrrhon was primarily looking for a way to eudaimonia or whether he only viewed bliss as a welcome side effect of the skeptical worldview. According to tradition, the skeptics initially looked for knowledge in the hope of calming their minds. When they failed and decided to abstain from judgments, surprisingly, peace of mind was achieved. Timon is said to have claimed that calmness followed the abstention like a shadow. In particular, the Pyrrhones rejected evaluations as they did not grant them any objective validity. They felt that nothing is inherently a good or an evil. Anyone who thinks something is good or bad in itself lives in endless unrest and cannot be happy. On the other hand, those who refrain from finding one good and the other bad will gain a serene attitude. The agonizing zeal for the supposedly good and the effort to avoid the supposedly bad would then disappear.

The New Pythagoreans

Questions of eudaimonia are also discussed in the pseudepigraphic New Pythagorean literature. These are works from the period of Hellenism or the Roman Empire, which are difficult to date and which are distributed under false author names. Platonic and Aristotelian elements are recognizable in the ideas of the unknown New Pythagorean authors. They referred to eudaimonia as "the perfection of human life" or as "the perfection and perfection of human goods". With regard to the importance of goods outside of the soul, they followed the peripatetic view. They maintained that without a certain amount of good fortune, eudaimonia was not attainable, that virtue alone was not enough. Virtue is the perfection of human nature, eudaimonia the perfection of human life. Since the acquisition of virtue is in the power of man, which is not the case with goods of happiness, the virtuous should be praised, those living in eudaimonia should be blessed. Eudaimonia not only presupposes the dormant possession of virtue, but also its exercise. It could be defined as the exercise of virtue favored by happy external circumstances. However, in Neo-Pythagorean literature there is also an indication that the blessings of happiness through excess could impair the soul and spirit even in good people, just as the eyes suffer from too strong light. The right amount of luck is desirable.

The Latin terminology

In the Roman Empire in the 1st century BC A broad reception of Greek philosophy in the educated class. The most notable communicator of Greek philosophical ideas to the Latin-speaking world was Cicero . His contemporary Marcus Terentius Varro also made an important contribution. Varro suggested that the technical term eudaimon be translated in Latin with felix . This Latin adjective, according to its religiously shaped basic meaning, denoted roughly the same as eudaimon in pre- and extra-philosophical language usage: A fortunate, outwardly successful person, to whom the gods seemed to give special favor, was called felix . Cicero, on the other hand, preferred the translation with beatus , an expression which originally also referred to external happiness and which has now been given a philosophical accent. Just like the Greek philosophers, the Roman ones emphasized the inner soul basis of the desired ideal in contrast to advantageous external living conditions. In philosophical parlance, it has become common practice to call someone who is fortunate from within a beatus . As Latin equivalents of eudaimonia , Cicero introduced the new word formations beatitas and beatitudo ("bliss"), which he only used occasionally. Beatitudo prevailed among the later Latin- speaking thinkers, and people also spoke of the "happy life" (beata vita) .

Cicero (bust in the Capitoline Museums , Rome)


In the fifth dialogue of his Tusculanae disputationes, Cicero dealt extensively with the question of the autarky of the wise. The dialogue examines whether happiness is based exclusively on virtue and whether the wise man is spiritually inviolable thanks to his virtue, or whether goods outside the soul are also needed and therefore accidents, especially pain, can impair the wise man's eudaimonia. The doctrines of various philosophers on this question are discussed, with the extreme example of torture pain illustrating the problem drastically. The discussion leads to the result that the wise man is indeed self-sufficient and that there is consensus on this among the philosophical schools despite all differences of opinion about the details.

In his work De finibus bonorum et malorum , Cicero attacked the Epicurean doctrine of happiness. He argued that happiness can only be given if it is fully available to the wise man and if he can be sure that it will not be lost. Anyone who distrusts their permanence must be afraid of future misfortune and can therefore not find themselves in eudaimonia. Hence the Epicurean equation of eudaimonia and pleasure is wrong, for that which produces pleasure is not in the power of the wise, and uninterrupted pleasure is impossible. In Epicureanism, suffering is played down in an unworldly way. This creates the illusion that eudaimonia understood as pleasure is attainable as a permanent state. It is absurd to regard pleasure as the greatest good and pain as the greatest evil and at the same time to assert that the wise can always be happy, even when he is in pain.


Varro placed himself in the line of tradition of Antiochus of Askalon. Like him, he rejected the thesis that physical goods are irrelevant. He counted some of them among the requirements of happiness, since virtue could not exist without them. With this he went well beyond the appreciation of the physical goods at Antiochus. He distinguished three levels of happiness: a “happy life” (vita beata) , which one leads when only the minimum requirements of eudaimonia are met, a “happier life” (vita beatior) for those who have some or almost all of the desirable but not necessary goods, and an extremely happy life (vita beatissima) , which is bestowed on those who have obtained all goods.


The politician Marcus Iunius Brutus († 42 BC), who was also active as a philosophical writer, in his now-lost treatise on virtue also linked to the teaching of Antiochus of Ascalon. He believed that virtue, even if it was not the only good, was sufficient for a happy life. Freedom from physical and external evils is not required for eudaimonia. As can be seen from Cicero's statements, Brutus rejected the stoic argument that only moral defects are real evils. He acknowledged that pain, illness and poverty are real evils. Still, he maintained that the wise man was happy in every situation, because nothing physical could destroy eudaimonia.

Seneca (bust in the Berlin Collection of Antiquities )


The stoic Seneca († 65) described his concept of eudaimonia in the book About the happy life ( De vita beata ) . There he explained what is meant by happiness and how it can be achieved as quickly as possible. He defined a life as happy that “conforms to his nature, which cannot be done in any other way than when the mind is initially healthy and in constant possession of its health, when it is then brave and energetic, and furthermore resistant with the most beautiful demeanor, up to the circumstances; when he takes care of the body and that which is related to it without fearfulness and pays careful attention to the other things that contribute to life, but without overestimating any of them; willing to use the gifts of fate, but not to serve them slavishly ”.

This perfect state of mind, in which perfect reason (ratio perfecta) rules, guarantees Seneca eudaimonia. According to him, a happy life is in harmony with the general law of nature, the nature of the universe, and with human nature. Perfect reason is the only factor that matters in the realization of a happy life, it represents the very essence of man. However, man received his reason from nature in an imperfect state. Hence the task of perfecting them falls to him. This process enables him to acquire the virtue that presupposes reasonable insight. Virtue then helps him to behave correctly in every situation. It is based on correct judgments of reason; an unconsciously correct act is not virtuous. What is needed is a secure knowledge of what is morally required, which is then put into practice. You have to know what to avoid and what to strive for, that is, you have to be able to assess the true value of things. Knowledge of the orderly processes in space is also required. The wise man has such insight. The goal, the posture of the wise, is achieved through practice, habituation, and activity. First you acquire the ethical knowledge, which is a purely intellectual process, then you memorize it in such a way that it cannot be lost, and finally you apply it. Through practice it becomes a "habit", a component of the character.

Seneca also defined the happy life as "security and constant calmness". One arrives at this when one has completely seen through the truth and has thereby attained soul size (animi magnitudo) . By “security” Seneca meant being free from harmful emotional states such as fear, worry, grief and grief and also from any excitement of displeasure or anger. By tranquility of mind (tranquillitas animi) , to which he dedicated a special treatise, he understood the serenity of the spirit characteristic of the stoic sage. According to Seneca's teaching, this is based on the wise man's permanent harmony with himself, that is, on the harmony of his mental strivings, the basis of which is the constancy of his judgments. All actions of the wise man are in harmony with one another and with his words, since he always wants and rejects the same thing. He has a guideline by which he lives and to which he aligns his entire life.

Seneca also points out that happiness also includes the aspect of subjective feeling. Nobody is happy who does not think so. For Seneca, however, that doesn't mean that you can make yourself happy through your own judgment. Rather, he assumes that something as valuable as bliss can only come to someone who deserves it. Only the wise one is able to experience the persistence of eudaimonia.

The Neoplatonists

The Neoplatonists , who viewed themselves primarily as interpreters of Plato's teaching, followed up on his ideal of eudaimonia. Plotinus (205–270), the founder of Neoplatonism, wrote a treatise on eudaimonia . In it he dealt with the Eudaimony teachings of other directions. He considered some of their theses to be correct. But he tried to show that they were not able to convincingly substantiate their concepts. Only on the basis of Platonic metaphysics and the science of the soul can a realistic eudaimonistic ethics be substantiated.

At the beginning of Plotin's treatise, the question is asked whether equating life fulfillment (“living well”) and eudaimonia means that non-human living beings must also be granted a share in eudaimonia if they are given the opportunity to do so freely Plant to live. It does not matter here whether one defines the fulfillment of life, the eudaimonistic "good life", as well-being or as carrying out the respective natural activity or as a goal, that is, as a final state aimed at in nature, or as inner calm ( ataraxia ) or as life according to nature. All of this can be the case in animals, such as well-being in songbirds. Even plants strive for perfection. However, what speaks against a “good life” of plants is that they lack the perception of the good that happens to them. Here, as Plotinus explains, the judgment depends on which prerequisite one wants to assume for the “good life”: the mere presence of something good that corresponds to one's own natural state, or the ability to perceive it, or the knowledge that it exists and is pleasant, or the knowledge that it is good. The latter presupposes reason, and some only attribute the ability to eudaimonia to rational beings. If, however, reason is introduced as a criterion because it knows ways and means by which it can find the primary natural goods, then this is not a sound consideration, because then reason is only a means that serves the purpose of serves to satisfy physical needs. In this case it is not superior to its purpose and has no greater value than it. Since animals also succeed in finding such goods, so reason is not absolutely necessary for them, there is no reason here for a special appreciation of reason and for limiting eudaimonia to humans.

In contrast to the criticized definitions, Plotinus presents his own understanding in his treatise. He does not assign eudaimonia to life itself, nor to every life connected with the activity of reason, but only to the perfect life of the one who lives with the highest intensity and who lacks nothing that belongs to the perfection of life. Every human being carries eudaimonia as potential within himself through his being human, but he can only be called eudaimon if he has realized the potential in his life. Whoever has reached this state is good for himself through what he has inwardly at his disposal. He is no longer after anything for himself, because he already has the best that can be achieved in human existence, and he does not value anything less.

According to Plotin's teaching, perfect life is preserved to those who possess it, even under adverse circumstances, and its eudaimonia is not diminished. Sadness only affects the unreasonable in him that is not himself. The counter-argument of critics is that humans cannot completely tear themselves away from their body and body consciousness; therefore strokes of fate such as losses, pain and illnesses or even unconsciousness are obstacles that stand in the way of eudaimonia. However, Plotinus does not accept such objections; he attributes them to a failed concept of eudaimonia. For him, eudaimonia is not a "thrown together pile of goods and essentials" dependent on the existence of various factors, but something uniform, an inner state of the soul that has nothing to do with external well-being. Plotin's treatise explains in detail, with many examples and considerations, why misfortunes of all kinds cannot shake the wise man or affect his eudaimonia. For example, all pain can be endured as long as it is bearable; as soon as they become unbearable, death occurs. Even under torture - the proverbial bull of the Phalaris serves as an example - the wise man can distance himself from pain, since he does not identify with the suffering body but focuses his attention on the good to which he always has access. He then perceives the suffering subject as a stranger; the one who suffers is not himself, that is, the rational soul. This persists in eudaimonia. The wise man's assurance that no evil can harm him gives him fearlessness. He who is not wise himself does not understand this, for he imagines the blessed to be weak as he is himself and therefore has no inkling of what is actually going on in the spirit of the fearless.

Plotin's position in favor of the stoic and against the peripatetic position on the question of the autarky of the wise was seminal for the later Neoplatonists.

Jewish and Christian authors

The Jewish thinker Philo of Alexandria , who received a lot of Platonic ideas, adopted elements of Platonic and Stoic ethics. He accepted the principle that virtue alone is sufficient to attain and maintain eudaimonia. In the doctrine of goods, however, he did not share the radical view of the Stoics. Rather, he approved of the moderate standpoint of those who recognized non-soul goods as having a value and who even ascribed a happiness-increasing effect to the possession of such goods.

Otherwise, Jewish and Christian authors were reluctant to accept the idea of ​​eudaimonia. The words eudaimon and eudaimonia do not appear in either the Septuagint , the Greek translation of the Tanakh , or the Greek New Testament . The Greek-speaking church fathers generally refrained from using these terms in a positive meaning, which were suspect due to their connection with the pagan religious sphere. For Christians, daimon was a very negative term; Probably for this reason, words compounded with it were not used to designate desired states. It took Makarios before (saved). Among the Latin- speaking church writers , the expressions beatus , beatitudo and beata vita were used to designate bliss that was interpreted religiously in the Christian sense, but they were also used when discussing philosophical concepts.

In the second century, the apologist Justin Martyr dealt with the Platonic ideal of eudaimonia. He polemicized against the Platonic doctrine that the soul could attain eudaimonia on its own, and countered it with the assertion that only Christian faith can bring man the happiness that Platonic philosophy promised him.

Opinions on the value of pagan philosophy differed widely among ancient church writers. Accordingly, their judgments about the philosophical doctrines of eudaimonia differed. Clement of Alexandria , who sought a synthesis of Christian and Platonic thought, advocated a Christian version of the Platonic ideal, using the technical term eudaimonia . He considered the Platonic conception of the goal of life and happiness to be correct, but, like Justin, said that the goal could only be reached within the framework of Christianity. Tertullian, on the other hand, who was a principled opponent of philosophy, wanted nothing to do with a philosophical doctrine of happiness.

Laktanz found that none of the philosophy schools had correctly determined the goal of life or the highest good. He accused the peripatetics of wrongly making happiness dependent on goods outside of the soul and thus declaring the soul to be powerless. Against the stoic concept, he argued that virtue cannot be the highest good, because if it shows itself in enduring evils, it cannot in itself be associated with happiness. Laktanz believed that bliss as a perfect state that nothing could affect, was in principle unattainable in earthly life, because man could not escape the evils caused by his perishable body. True, indestructible bliss can only be obtained after the body has died.

The church father Ambrose of Milan dealt with this topic in his work On Jacob and the blissful life (De Iacob et vita beata) , in which he used numerous passages from Plotin’s pertinent treatise, and in the second book of the book On Duties (De officiis ) , where he enumerated a number of philosophical definitions of the blissful life. In contrast to lactate, whose conception he opposed, he believed that indestructible happiness was possible even during earthly life. Anyone who denies this because of the frailty of the human body and the mental suffering it causes is wrongly equating bliss with physical joy instead of recognizing that it lies in the depths of wisdom and in the majesty of virtue. For the sufferer, bliss consists in overcoming suffering. Virtue is the only good; it alone helps people to be happy. External and physical goods add nothing to it. In this context, Ambrosius understood the "happy life" (vita beata) to mean the earthly existence of the truly living person, which he called the "fruit of the present", in contrast to the hoped-for future existence in the hereafter, eternal life. The happy life is the way to gain eternal life. Ambrose explained in detail his conviction that the joy that the blessed derive from the possession of virtue cannot be diminished by pain and cannot be increased by any extrasoulal goods. He believed that human happiness is primarily not caused by his condition (condicio) - that is, his position in creation - but by his moral actions. In doing so, Ambrose distanced himself from Plotin's optimistic view that every human being in their nature already possesses eudaimonia as a possibility, because because of original sin he did not believe that human beings could become happy on their own. On the other hand, he followed the pagan philosophical tradition with his emphatic emphasis on the essential role of reason in winning happiness.

The church father Augustine also took up the philosophical ideal of eudaimonia. Although he had no direct access to the Nicomachean Ethics , he was familiar with the peripatetic concept and dealt with it. In his dialogue on the blissful life ( De beata vita ) , an early work, he presented his considerations. Already in the introduction he stated that when you landed in the "port of philosophy", you have access to the Find the "mainland" of happy life. Starting from a worldview strongly influenced by Neo-Platonism, he explained that the blissful life rested in the spirit (animus) and that the spirit of the wise did not suffer from deficiency, but was perfect. “To be happy” is nothing other than “not to suffer want”, and that means to be wise. If there is no lack of wisdom, nothing can be lacking.

According to Augustine, the correct attitude is to accept the inevitable. The wise man is necessarily brave and does not fear pain or death. He tries to avoid these evils because it would be foolish not to do anything about it, and he would be unhappy if he did nothing in the face of danger. But then he would not be unhappy because of the evils, but because of his folly, because folly is to be equated with want and unhappiness. If he fails to prevent the evils, what then falls on him will not make him unhappy. If you do not want the impossible, nothing can happen against your will, and then you cannot be unhappy. For the wise, the principle of the poet Terence applies : "Since what you want cannot happen, want what you can." His will is directed towards the most certain goal: to do only what wisdom and virtue demand. He is always able to do this, because nothing can snatch his wisdom and virtue from him. So his happiness is always preserved.

In later writings - On the Divine State ( De civitate dei ) and Withdrawals (Retractationes) - Augustine took a completely different view. Now he was of the opinion that the philosophers had mistakenly believed that one could live a life in eudaimonia on earth. In reality, because of the many serious evils from which no one is spared, this is in principle impossible. Since virtue must constantly fight against weaknesses, no one can consider himself whole, and whoever is not whole cannot call himself blissful. The claim of the Stoics that one can become blissful of oneself and live happily in the midst of evils is completely absurd. It was an idea created by their arrogance. The eudaimonia concepts of the Platonists and the Peripatetics are less absurd, but also erroneous and contradictory. Augustine expressly revoked his earlier positive position on earthly happiness.

The Christian philosopher Boethius († 524/526) defined happiness (beatitudo) as the perfect state through the union of all goods. A natural instinct leads there, but the multifarious error distracts from it. In his main work Consolatio philosophiae ( The Consolation of Philosophy ) , Boethius went into detail on ways of seeking happiness, which he considered to be wrong ways: the pursuit of wealth, honor, power, fame or enjoyment. True happiness is not to be found in earthly goods, but in God. There is no difference between God and happiness. It follows that one can only become happy by attaining Godhead. That could mean nothing else than that one becomes God oneself. Hence Boethius has the personified philosophy claim: "Thus everyone who is blessed is God."

Iconography and cult

Pictorial representations of personified eudaimonia are known only from the last two decades of the 5th century . These are exclusively vases that were created by the Meidias painter or come from his vicinity. Eudaimonia mostly appears in the company of other female personifications who represent different virtues.

A cult of the divine Eudaimonia is for the city of Philadelphia in Asia Minor through an inscription from the 1st century BC. Chr. Attested.

middle Ages

Islamic culture

The Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle was known in the Arabic-speaking world . It was available in a complete Arabic translation that the scholar Isḥāq ibn Ḥunain († 910) had made. In the 10th century, the influential philosopher al-Fārābī , who dealt with the subject of happiness in several works, wrote a now-lost commentary on the Nicomachean Ethics .

In the 12th century, the Arab philosopher Averroes wrote a commentary on the physics of Aristotle. In the prologue he stated that through theoretical science man attains the perfection which completes his being. That is his happiness. Only when he has been perfected through theoretical science is he human in the true sense. He also commented on this in his little commentary on Aristotle's De anima . There he wrote that grasping the general concepts was the most desirable goal of all. Theoretical reflection is the only way that leads to the highest happiness. This is achieved when the "material intellect" - the passive, "suffering" nous of the Aristotelian doctrine, which can only experience influences - is combined with the active intellect, the " effecting intellect ". Knowledge of the theoretical sciences alone enables people to achieve “natural perfection”. However, Averroes also demanded that a philosopher should not only deal with his specialized knowledge, but also acquire the general knowledge that the religious teachings made available to all people. Averroes welcomed Aristotelian ethics, which in addition to the philosophical also provides a path to eudaimonia suitable for non-philosophers. It enabled him to avoid the undesirable conclusion that happiness is reserved for very few intellectually gifted people. In this way he was able to hold on to his religious conviction that happiness in one form or another is attainable for all people, even though he regarded the highest happiness as a privilege of the philosophers.

Christian culture

The Latin-speaking scholars of Western and Central Europe were unknown to Plato's dialogues in which eudaimonia is discussed, and they knew little about the other statements of the ancient philosophers, since most of the relevant literature was lost. The reception of Aristotelian ethics did not begin until the 13th century. Before Aristotelianism prevailed, the discussion about human happiness was within the framework given by Augustine and Boethius. The authors who dealt with the subject in the 12th century devalued the secular possibilities of happiness based on human achievement. For them the goal was only the bliss bestowed by divine grace.

In the late Middle Ages , interest focused primarily on Aristotle's concept of eudaimonia. The Nicomachean Ethics was available to scholars in the complete Latin translation made by Robert Grosseteste in 1246/1247 . In their comments on this work and also in other writings, the Magisters dealt with the Aristotelian teaching of Eudaimony and various related questions. In doing so, they often followed Aristotle's view in philosophical discourse, but sometimes came to different results when they judged from a theological point of view. For example, like Aristotle, they denied the question of whether children can be happy in the sense of the philosophical concept of happiness. This is impossible because the children lack the intellectual and moral requirements. They are not yet capable of virtuous action, from which happiness grows. If, however, beatitudo is understood in the theological sense, eudaimonia of children is in principle possible.

Albert the Great , Thomas Aquinas and other masters of the 13th century stated, in agreement with Aristotle, that life is directed towards the goal of happiness and that this must be thought of as an activity (operatio) to be determined as the activity of reason be. They assumed that earthly happiness would be realized in the right form of life, in a successful life. Happiness and the right way of life appeared as two only mentally separable sides of one and the same issue.

Albert the Great emphasized that the earthly happiness meant by Aristotle, to which the moral action of man is directed, must be distinguished from bliss in the theological sense. It is a supreme human good that is not identical with God and is caused solely by human actions. Meritorious works are ordered to eternal bliss, virtues to happiness in this world. Thomas Aquinas also emphasized the distinction between these two types of happiness. One he called the imperfect happiness possible in this life (beatitudo imperfecta) , "of which the philosophers have talked", the other as the perfect happiness (beatitudo perfecta) in the future life beyond. In contrast to Albert, he did not classify imperfect happiness as purely worldly, but saw it as the result of a combination of divine influence and human activity.

Leading masters assigned the intellectual activities in the realization of a contemplative life a central importance for earthly bliss. In the second half of the thirteenth century, the scholars believed that people could attain perfect happiness through scientific activity. Specifically, they were thinking of their own work as members of educational institutions. But there were also dissenting voices: Thomas Aquinas emphasized the imperfection of all earthly happiness and some authors, including the influential theologian Bonaventure , denied that happiness could exist in this world. Bonaventure stated that there is no safe transition from science to wisdom.

Albert, Thomas and other scholars, like Aristotle, differentiated between two possible basic forms of happiness in life: "civilly active happiness" (felicitas civilis, politica, moralis) in a life of practical action in civil society and "contemplative happiness" (felicitas contemplativa , speculativa) in a life of spiritual contemplation. They also shared the ancient philosopher's conviction that contemplative happiness was of a higher rank than civil activity. Albert considered external goods to be purely instrumental; he did not see them as a constituent part of happiness. With this he achieved an immunization of the happy against the vicissitudes of life. He valued civil happiness as a very high good, which he combined with prudence, one of the four basic virtues. The contemplative happiness, which he understood as the activity of wisdom, he considered the absolutely highest inner-worldly goal in life. He described it as a contemplation of the highest, simple substances and divine things, and turning the intellect back to its own being. Such viewing should be accompanied by a pure and wonderful joy (delectatio) . Also, Boethius of Dacia stressed that joy, calling it the highest pleasure. He claimed that the happy philosopher performed only "works of happiness" and acts that would better enable him to do the works of happiness. Therefore, he is always happy, even when sleeping and eating.

Thomas Aquinas assumed that between perfect bliss and imperfect forms of happiness there was a graduated relationship of participation according to the degree of correspondence between them; In the contemplative form of life, participation in perfect bliss is more pronounced than in the active one. With regard to his relatively low classification of civil-active happiness, Thomas erroneously believed that his position coincided with that of Aristotle, because he had misunderstood his statements on autarky, like his teacher Albert the Great. Due to a misinterpretation of the autarky criterion in the Nicomachean Ethics , he said that the ancient thinker did not regard bourgeois eudaimonia as a full form of human happiness, but had a much more modest concept of happiness in mind. Thomas interpreted the Aristotelian doctrine in such a way that it is only about the fulfillment of minimum conditions, about a rudimentary kind of happiness that exists when the basic needs of the person living in social ties are satisfied. If this is the case, the self-sufficiency of the happy citizen, meant by Aristotle, is already given, since he then has everything that is absolutely necessary at his disposal. As a result of this misunderstanding, Thomas saw in the Nicomachean Ethics a theory of imperfect earthly happiness as opposed to bliss that cannot be increased and which is given by God.

There was unanimity among the masters that happiness (felicitas) is necessarily connected with joy or pleasure (delectatio) . However, this is not a component of happiness, but only "follows" it. The questions of whether physical well-being and external goods belong to happiness and to what extent happiness can be forfeited also preoccupied the late medieval thinkers. They were answered differently. The Aristotelian guidelines formed the starting point for the opinions of the masters, but the influence of the way of thinking of the church fathers also made itself felt.

Aristotle's glorification of the eudaimonia of the philosopher, who made contemplation of truth part of his life, was taken up by late medieval thinkers such as Boethius von Dacien, Gottfried von Fontaines and Heinrich Bate . They saw in the philosopher the one who is in the best condition man can do, and based on this assessment they adopted an elitist attitude. Boethius claimed that whoever did not lead a philosophical life "according to the right order of nature" did not have the right life.

Aristotle's thesis that friends are essential for a successful life and that friendship is the most important of external goods met with broad approval from the Magisters. They said that this applies not only to the civil-active, but also to the contemplative way of life.

In the late 13th century, the Magister Jacob of Pistoia wrote a Questio de felicitate (Question about Happiness) in which he treated the subject on the basis of Aristotelian ethics.

Modern reception

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz,
portrait of Christoph Bernhard Francke , around 1700; Duke Anton Ulrich Museum , Braunschweig


In the understanding of happiness in the early modern period , stoic ideas were mixed with Christian ideas. Thereby combining Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) the Stoic appreciation of the serene, calm and steadfast mind with a Christian faith in the absolute goodness of Divine Providence. He defined bliss as the state of constant joy. It is the joy that the soul feels in its own perfection, harmony, strength and freedom. In his early analysis De Vita Beata. Leibniz took up Hellenistic basic concepts and ideas of happiness . He recommended to always follow the instructions of the mind, to resist unconscious affects, to live virtuously, to learn from failures, to complain about nothing and to strive only for what is feasible. Then one could enjoy a happy life happily and calmly. In his Confessio philosophi (1673) Leibniz defined happiness as the highest harmony of the mind. This is based on the fact that the universal harmony is concentrated in the mind and collects as in a focal point. Leibniz equated the effects of universal harmony with those of human fate predetermined by God.

The discussion about "eudaemonism"

18th and 19th centuries

Immanuel Kant made various efforts to determine the relationship between morality and happiness. In accordance with the ancient tradition, he stated that everyone desires to reach happiness. This is actually for man “his own ultimate natural purpose”, the “true natural need in which our species is consistent with itself”. However, Kant moved away from the ancient understanding through his definition of happiness as the “state of a rational being in the world, who in the whole of his existence is doing everything according to his will and will”. He found that it was in principle impossible for man as an individual and as a species to achieve such happiness on earth; neither the nature of the outside world nor his own allow this.

In his analysis of the ancient understanding of ethics, Kant introduced the terms “ eudaemonism ” and “eudaemonist” to denote a conception he opposed. In his work Die Metaphysik der Sitten (1797) he criticized eudaemonism, which traces the compulsory principle back to a doctrine of happiness and means “a certain moral happiness” that is not based on empirical causes. That is "a self-contradicting absurdity". According to Kant, the person who has fulfilled his duty and is aware of it is "in a state of calmness and contentment, which one can call bliss, in which virtue is its own reward". From Kant's point of view, there is nothing wrong with that. Rather, his criticism relates to the attitude of the “eudaemonist”, for whom this bliss or bliss is the real motivation for the fulfillment of duty. For the eudaemonist, the concept of duty does not directly determine the will; only the prospect of eudaemonism induces him to do his duty. With this he comes into a contradiction, because the principle of duty presupposes a moral reason for action, while the eudaemonist only recognizes as his duty that which brings him happiness and thus acts according to an extra-moral principle. If eudaemonia is established as a principle, the result, in Kant's opinion, is “euthanasia”: the “gentle death” of all morality.

Kant called both the doctrines that make happiness a principle and the corresponding attitude in life eudaemonistic. Although he considered man's natural inclinations aimed at happiness to be in themselves unobjectionable, he insisted that in the event of conflict, reason, which as pure practical reason does not serve inclinations, should always have priority.

Johann Gottlieb Fichte , who took over Kant's use of the term, also made derogatory comments in 1798 about the "formerly ruling" eudaemonism, which is the cause of many evils. In 1799 Fichte wrote that whoever was a eudaemonist in ethics had to become a dogmatist in speculation ; Eudaemonism and dogmatism are, if one is only consistent, necessary together. In Christianity there is a “system of idolatry and idolatry” in which “happiness is expected from an overpowering being”. As a result, the Christian doctrine, under the influence of a eudaemonistic way of thinking, lost its spirit and its strength and turned into an "enervating doctrine of happiness". The eudaemonistic system kills young people from all spirit. Everywhere the eudaemonists can be recognized as gossipers and shallow followers.

Hegel took a differentiating position. If one understands by happiness the satisfaction of man in his special inclinations, desires and needs, one makes the accidental and particular the principle of the will and its activity. Such eudaemonism lacks any firm hold and opens the door to all arbitrariness and whimsy. Kant had rightly countered this with the demand for a generally binding determination of the will. But it depends on where one has to look for happiness. Depending on how this is determined, a distinction has to be made between “very raw, gross eudaemonism” and “better”.

In his lectures on the history of philosophy , Hegel analyzed the ancient understanding of eudaimonia . Before Kant, morality was eudaemonically based on the determination of happiness. Bliss implies satisfaction of the individual through physical and spiritual enjoyment. However, because, according to the philosophical tradition, not every sensual, direct enjoyment is to be grasped, but rather the bliss contains "a reflection on the whole of the state", the whole represents the principle and the individual must be reset. Ancient eudaemonism contained bliss as a condition for the whole of life; it established the “totality of enjoyment”. This level of reflection stands in the middle between mere desire and “the other, what is right as right and duty as duty”. It was believed that no momentary state deserves the name bliss.

In the 19th century, in addition to the concepts relating to a subject's relationship to their own happiness, those that promote the happiness of others began to be understood as forms of eudaemonism. For the subject-related teachings, the designation as "individual" or "individualistic" eudaemonism has become established. A distinction is made from this to “universal” or “social” eudaemonism, according to which the principle of the moral good also includes the pursuit of general happiness. If the happiness of everyone involved in an action is the decisive criterion, then it is utilitarianism .

Arthur Schopenhauer used the term " Eudaimonologie " in his Parerga and Paralipomena published in 1851 . By this he understood the instructions to the art of living life as pleasantly and happily as possible. He said that a happy existence can at best be defined as one that would be decidedly preferable to nonbeing “with cold and careful consideration”. The question of whether human life “corresponds or could only correspond to the concept of such an existence”, Schopenhauer said in the negative. He accused the eudemonology, which presupposed the affirmation of the question, that it was based on the “innate error” that “we are there to be happy”. This error is innate because it coincides with human existence itself and the whole being of man is only its paraphrase; man is only "will to live". Under “happiness”, people imagine the successive satisfaction of everything they want. As long as he persists in the innate error, the world appears to him full of contradictions, because with every step, both large and small, he must learn that the world and life are by no means designed to contain a happy existence.

Schopenhauer accorded Kant the great merit of having cleansed ethics of all "eudaimonism". However, Kant's own ethics lack a solid foundation, it is demonstrably a matter of "completely unjustified, groundless and fabricated assumptions". Kant had solemnly thrown eudaemonism, morality aimed at happiness and consequently self-interest, out of the main door of his system, but under the name "highest good" eudaemonism "decently veiled" crept back in through the back door. The ancient thinkers wanted to prove virtue and happiness as identical, but these terms are "like two figures that never coincide, however one may place them". The more recent ethicists have deviated from the identity claim that they have instead made happiness the result of virtue. But there is no empirical support for this. According to Schopenhauer's assessment, stoic ethics is a respectable, but unsuccessful attempt to use reason to raise people above suffering and to bring about eudaimonia that is actually impossible. The stoic wise man who lives in eudaimonia remains “a wooden, stiff limbed man”, “with whom one cannot do anything, who himself does not know what to do with his wisdom, whose perfect calm, contentment, and happiness contradicts the essence of humanity and does not show us anything Idea of ​​it ".

Even Friedrich Nietzsche was an opponent of eudaemonism. He rejected the doctrines that make happiness a measure of value. In principle, he rejected eudaimonia as a goal in the sense of the ancient concepts: "First sentence of my morality: one should not strive for states, neither happiness, nor calm, nor control over oneself." One cannot dispose of happiness, it lie in creating and be a side effect when releasing strength. Happiness is not a consequence of virtue but is above all morality. Nietzsche regarded the turn towards the pursuit of happiness that began with Socrates as a phenomenon of decline: “When the best of Greece was over, the moral philosophers came.” From Socrates onwards, all Greek thinkers were primarily moral philosophers who had sought happiness - “ bad that they had to look for it ”.

20th and 21st centuries

Nicolai Hartmann examined eudaemonism in his ethics (1926). He found that the ethics of the Enlightenment were “at all times”, in ancient sophistry as well as in the 17th and 18th centuries, eudaemonistic. Eudaemonism is concerned with the emotional value as such, with a feeling as the purpose of life. The ancient Epicureans and Stoics would not have advocated eudaemonism in this sense. With eudaimonia not luck or desire was meant in the usual sense, but a wealth of very different values such as self-sufficiency, mastery of impulses, wisdom, calmness and firmness of mind, inner strength, freedom, superiority over the fate. Those were the standards of happiness and unhappiness, the motif of pleasure only resounded from afar. The world view of ancient Christianity, on the other hand, had a basic eudaemonistic structure, it was permeated by an “eudaemonism of the hereafter”, because one primarily took care of one's own salvation. The "altruism of this world" was "at the same time egoism of the hereafter". This eudaemonism was also reflected in martyrdom. Modern eudaemonism relates more consistently than ever did ancient "the whole realm of moral phenomena to bliss"; everything is asked whether it is "useful" for this purpose. You only have the “useful” in mind. It is forgotten that it should be useful “for something” and that the use is only a means. In this way, life becomes a rush for means without any real sense of purpose. This leads to a “stunted and impoverished sense of value” and thus ultimately to a turning away from the intrinsic value of eudaemonia. So eudaemonism ultimately leads to its self-abolition.

Hans Reiner worked out a classification of the various manifestations of philosophical reflection on the topic, which he presented in 1972 in a brief overview. He used a modern term eudaemonism that, in contrast to the concepts of the non-Hedonist ancient philosophers, includes the desire for pleasure, i.e. also includes hedonistic teachings. Reiner distinguished between the eudaemonism of the theory of action and the eudaemonism of the justification of morality. The latter, according to its systematics, includes all ethical teachings which make happiness the highest good and therefore the pursuit of it a moral duty from which the other duties arise and to which they are subordinate. Action-theoretic eudaemonism includes all psychological theories according to which all human action - not just moral - by its very nature ultimately aims at an end, which is happiness. In the theory of action, different types of "eudaemonia" (happiness or pleasure in the broadest sense) are distinguished. "Hedonistic eudaemonism" describes the definition of the goal as lasting pleasure. In “aretological eudaemonism”, efficiency or virtue forms the main element of eudaemonia or is to be equated with it. In “ontological eudaemonism” the goal is a being free from all defects. A “voluntaristic eudaemonism” sees happiness in the saturation of the will.

In 1972 Wilhelm Kamlah attempted "to bring the old word 'eudaemonia' (...) back to life". He claimed that Kant did not understand the original ancient eudaimonism. It is now important to rediscover this, "right through the middle" between hedonism and moralism . For the success of life it is important not to lose sight of eudaemonia as the highest good. The “eudaemonic looseness” is the indispensable basic condition of life, rest and quiet dying.

Jürgen-Eckardt Pleines wrote in 1984 that there were consistently objective reasons “to resume the conversation with Aristotle exactly where it threatened to break down in principle, because of his doctrine of happiness”. In 1994 Nicholas White noted a growing influence of Aristotelianism in contemporary ethical discourse, especially in the English-speaking world, as well as an increasing tendency towards "eudaimonism". He defined this as the position according to which the only rational end goal of man is his own happiness or well-being. It is true that not all modern eudaemonist models are Aristotelian, but the more recent discussion owes much to Aristotelian thought and one could speak of neo-Aristotelian eudaemonism. Malte Hossenfelder noted in 1996 that when contemplating contemporary theories of happiness it became apparent that people were often thinking in ancient terms. The ancient texts would have "decisively shaped happiness to this day". In 2000, Christoph Horn asked whether there are plausible concepts of the good, successful or happy life in the current philosophical theoretical landscape analogous to the ancient models, or whether Kant's negative assessment had prevailed. Horn stated that the conviction that the basic questions of a successful lifestyle were theoretically capable of being theoretically followed had found more and more supporters in the last two decades of the 20th century. In 2001 William J. Prior pleaded for a modern eudaemonistic virtue ethic, which should be linked to the concept of Aristotle, because this is the most plausible of the conventional eudaemonistic theories. In 2012, Mark LeBar and Nathaniel Goldberg defended a “psychological” eudaemonism in the sense of the theory of action that prevailed in antiquity, which assumes a striving for a “good”, happy life as the decisive motivating force in all people.



Overview representations


Plato and Platonists

Aristotle and the Peripatetic

  • Friedemann Buddensiek: The theory of happiness in Aristotle's Eudemian ethics . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1999, ISBN 3-525-25222-6 .
  • Otfried Höffe : Eudaimonia . In: Otfried Höffe (Hrsg.): Aristoteles-Lexikon (= Kröner's pocket edition. Volume 459). Kröner, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-520-45901-9 , pp. 216-224.
  • Richard Kraut: Aristotle on the Human Good . Princeton University Press, Princeton 1989, ISBN 0-691-07349-X .
  • Anthony W. Price: Virtue and Reason in Plato and Aristotle . Clarendon Press, Oxford 2011, ISBN 978-0-19-960961-1 , pp. 33-81.
  • Wolfgang Schneider: Ousia and Eudaimonia. The interweaving of metaphysics and ethics in Aristotle. De Gruyter, Berlin 2001, ISBN 978-3-11-016901-0 .
  • Jan Szaif: Man's good. Investigations on the problems and development of the happiness ethics with Aristotle and in the tradition of Peripatos . De Gruyter, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-11-019307-7 .
  • Stephen A. White: Sovereign Virtue. Aristotle on the Relation Between Happiness and Prosperity . Stanford University Press, Stanford 1992, ISBN 0-8047-1694-3 .


  • Anthony Arthur Long: Stoic Studies . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1996, ISBN 0-521-48263-1 , pp. 179-201.


  • Voula Tsouna-McKirahan: Is there an exception to Greek eudaimonism? In: Monique Canto-Sperber , Pierre Pellegrin (eds.): Le style de la pensée . Les Belles Lettres, Paris 2002, ISBN 2-251-42014-2 , pp. 464-489.

Medieval reception

  • Theodor W. Koehler : Homo animal nobilissimum. Contours of the specifically human in Aristotle's commentary on natural philosophy of the thirteenth century . Part 2.2, Brill, Leiden 2014, ISBN 978-90-04-27854-7 , pp. 757-909.

Modern reception

  • Ryan Stuart Beaton, Jennifer Whiting: Eudaimonism . In: Hugh LaFollette (Ed.): The International Encyclopedia of Ethics . Vol. 3, Malden et al. 2013, ISBN 978-1-4051-8641-4 , pp. 1759-1766.
  • Wolfgang Janke: The happiness of mortals. Eudaemonia and ethos, love and death . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2002, ISBN 3-534-15934-9 .
  • Richard Kraut: Two Conceptions of Happiness . In: The Philosophical Review . Vol. 88, 1979, pp. 167-197.
  • Hans Reiner : Eudaemonism . In: Historical Dictionary of Philosophy . Vol. 2, Schwabe, Basel 1972, Col. 819-823.

Collection of articles

  • Lawrence J. Jost, Roger A. Shiner (Eds.): Eudaimonia and Well-Being. Ancient and Modern Conceptions (= Apeiron Vol. 35, No. 4). Academic Printing & Publishing, Kelowna 2002, ISBN 0-920980-79-1 .

Web links


  1. ^ Friedemann Buddensiek: Eudaimonie . In: Christian Schäfer (Ed.): Platon-Lexikon , Darmstadt 2007, pp. 116–120, here: 116 f .; Ragnar Holte: happiness (bliss) . In: Reallexikon für Antike und Christianentum , Vol. 11, Stuttgart 1981, Sp. 246–270, here: 249; Jan Szaif: Gut des Menschen , Berlin 2012, p. 108 f.
  2. ^ Gregory Vlastos: Happiness and Virtue in Socrates' Moral Theory . In: Gail Fine (ed.): Plato , Oxford 2000, pp. 587-618, here: 588-590. James C. Dybikowski comes to a similar conclusion: Is Aristotelian Eudaimonia Happiness? In: Dialogue 20, 1981, pp. 185-200.
  3. ^ John M. Cooper: Reason and Human Good in Aristotle , Cambridge (Massachusetts) 1975, pp. 89 f. and note 1.
  4. ^ Richard Kraut: Two Conceptions of Happiness . In: The Philosophical Review 88, 1979, pp. 167-197, here: 167-170. Cf. Richard Kraut: Aristotle on the Human Good , Princeton 1989, p. 3 Note 1. Leonard Wayne Sumner contradicts: Happiness Now and Then . In: Apeiron Vol. 35 No. 4, 2002, pp. 21-39, here: 26-31. Sumner advocates “well-being”.
  5. Hesiod, Werke und Tage 825. Cf. Cornelis de Heer: Μάκαρ - ευδαίμων - όλβιος - ευτυχής , Amsterdam 1969, pp. 19-27.
  6. Pindar, Pythian Odes 3.84; 7.21; Nemean Odes 7.56. Cf. Cornelis de Heer: Μάκαρ - ευδαίμων - όλβιος - ευτυχής , Amsterdam 1969, pp. 40-44.
  7. See on the etymology Pierre Chantraine : Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue grecque , 2nd, revised edition, Paris 2009, p. 236 f., On the non-philosophical use of terms Henry George Liddell , Robert Scott : A Greek-English Lexicon , 9th edition, Oxford 1996, p. 365 f., 708 f., 861 (documents); Ragnar Holte: happiness (bliss) . In: Reallexikon für Antike und Christianentum , Vol. 11, Stuttgart 1981, Sp. 246–270, here: 246–248.
  8. See Franz Dirlmeier on the cultural and historical background : ΘΕΟΦΙΛΙΑ - ΦΙΛΟΘΕΙΑ . In: Philologus 90, 1935, pp. 176-193, here: 180-191. Cf. Cornelis de Heer: Μάκαρ - ευδαίμων - όλβιος - ευτυχής , Amsterdam 1969, pp. 57, 59-67, 81, 99-103.
  9. Ragnar Holte: Glück (bliss) . In: Reallexikon für Antike und Christianentum , Vol. 11, Stuttgart 1981, Sp. 246–270, here: 246–248; Dietrich Roloff: Similarity to God, Deification and Exaltation to Blessed Life , Berlin 1970, pp. 66–68, 131–136.
  10. Pindar, Nemeische Oden 7.56.
  11. Euripides, Medea 1228-1230. Cf. Dietrich Roloff: God-similarity, deification and exaltation to blessed life , Berlin 1970, pp. 136-139.
  12. Dietrich Roloff: God-similarity, deification and exaltation to blessed life , Berlin 1970, pp. 138–142.
  13. Herodotus 1: 30-33. Cf. Christoph Horn: Antike Lebenskunst , Munich 1998, pp. 66–69.
  14. Sophocles, Antigone 1348 f.
  15. Ragnar Holte: Glück (bliss) . In: Reallexikon für Antike und Christianentum , Vol. 11, Stuttgart 1981, Sp. 246–270, here: 248 f.
  16. Heraklit, DK 22 B 119.
  17. See Miroslav Marcovich (Ed.): Heraclitus , 2nd, edited edition, Sankt Augustin 2001, pp. 502–504.
  18. Heraklit, DK 22 B 4. Since this fragment has only survived in Latin, the Latin word felicitas stands for eudaimonia . For the text, see Serge N. Mouraviev: Héraclite d'Éphèse: Les vestiges (= Heraclitea vol. III.3.B / iii), Sankt Augustin 2006, p. 10.
  19. Democritus, DK 68 B 170-171. Cf. Gerhard Müller : Problems of the Aristotelian Eudaimony Doctrine . In: Museum Helveticum 17, 1960, pp. 121–143, here: 127 f.
  20. Democritus, DK 68 B 119.
  21. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1179a. Cf. Gerhard Müller: Problems of the Aristotelian Eudaimony Doctrine . In: Museum Helveticum 17, 1960, pp. 121–143, here: 124–127.
  22. Plato, Phaedo 58e, 118a.
  23. See on the idea of ​​approximation Klaus Schöpsdau : Plato: Nomoi (laws). Translation and Commentary , Part 2, Göttingen 2003, pp. 204–212 and Dietrich Roloff: God-likeness, deification and exaltation to blessed life , Berlin 1970, pp. 200–206, on the knowledge of the good Thomas A. Szlezák : The idea of ​​the good in Platon's Politeia , Sankt Augustin 2003, pp. 97-104.
  24. Plato, Symposium 204e-205d.
  25. Plato, Gorgias 470c-495a, 507a-508b.
  26. Plato, Politeia 576b-580c; Nomoi 660d-663d, 742d-743d.
  27. Plato, Politeia 473c – e, 500d – e.
  28. Plato, Euthydemus 278e-282d. For eudaimonia in Euthydemus see Naomi Reshotko: Virtue as the Only Unconditional - But not Intrinsic - Good: Plato's Euthydemus 278e3-281e5 . In: Ancient Philosophy 21, 2001, pp. 325–334; Panos Dimas: Happiness in the Euthydemus . In: Phronesis 47, 2002, pp. 1-27.
  29. See Donald Zeyl: Socratic Virtue and Happiness . In: Archive for the History of Philosophy 64, 1982, pp. 225–238; Friedemann Buddensiek: Eudaimonia . In: Christian Schäfer (Ed.): Platon-Lexikon , Darmstadt 2007, pp. 116–120, here: 117 f.
  30. Xenophon, Memorabilia 4,2,34-36.
  31. Olga Chernyakhovskaya: Sokrates in Xenophon , Tübingen 2014, pp. 144–147, 152 f.
  32. Olga Chernyakhovskaya: Sokrates in Xenophon , Tübingen 2014, pp. 148–151.
  33. Vivienne Gray: Xenophon's Eudaimonia . In: Fulvia de Luise, Alessandro Stavru: Socratica III , Sankt Augustin 2013, pp. 56–67.
  34. Diogenes Laertios 6.10 f .; 6.104.
  35. Diogenes Laertios 6.2; 6.11. See also Klaus Döring : Antisthenes . In: Hellmut Flashar (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy . The philosophy of antiquity , Vol. 2/1, Basel 1998, pp. 268–280, here: 275–277.
  36. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1094a.
  37. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1097b.
  38. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1094b; Politics 1323b-1324a. Cf. Heinz Kampert: Eudaimonie und Autarkie in Aristoteles , Paderborn 2003, pp. 16–18, 114–116, 123–137.
  39. Pierre Aubenque : The coherence of the Aristotelian Eudaimonia doctrine . In: Günther Bien (Ed.): The question of happiness , Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1978, pp. 45–57, here: 55 f. See Richard Kraut: Aristotle on the Human Good , Princeton 1989, pp. 9-12, 78-90, 144-148.
  40. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1095a.
  41. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1095b – 1096a.
  42. For this definition, see Jan Szaif: Gut des Menschen , Berlin 2012, pp. 87-105.
  43. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1177A, 1179A. For this concept, see Jan Szaif: Gut des Menschen , Berlin 2012, pp. 80-105; Ragnar Holte: happiness (bliss) . In: Reallexikon für Antike und Christianentum , Vol. 11, Stuttgart 1981, Sp. 246-270, here: 253.
  44. ^ William FR Hardie: The Final Good in Aristotle's Ethics . In: Philosophy 40, 1965, pp. 277-295; Peter Stemmer: Aristotle's concept of happiness in the Nicomachean ethics. An interpretation of EN 1.7. 1097b2-5 . In: Phronesis 37, 1992, pp. 85-110. Cf. Nicholas White: Individual and Conflict in Greek Ethics , Oxford 2002, pp. 253 f .; Richard Kraut: Aristotle on the Human Good , Princeton 1989, pp. 49-53.
  45. John L. Ackrill: Aristotle on Eudaimonia . In: Amélie Oksenberg Rorty (ed.): Essays on Aristotle's Ethics , Berkeley 1980, pp. 15-33 (first published in 1974).
  46. Friedemann Buddensiek: The theory of happiness in Aristotle's Eudemischer Ethik , Göttingen 1999, p. 11, 17. Cf. Daniel T. Devereux: Aristotle on the Essence of Happiness . In: Dominic J. O'Meara (Ed.): Studies in Aristotle , Washington (DC) 1981, pp. 247-260; Jeffrey S. Purinton: Aristotle's Definition of Happiness (NE 1.7, 1098 a 16-18). In: Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 16, 1998, pp. 259-297; Martha C. Nussbaum : The fragility of goodness , Cambridge 1986, pp. 343-353; Stephen Everson: Aristotle on nature and value . In: Stephen Everson (Ed.): Ethics , Cambridge 1998, pp. 77-106; Robert Heinaman: Eudaimonia and Self-sufficiency in the Nicomachean Ethics . In: Phronesis 33, 1988, pp. 31-53; John M. Cooper: Reason and Emotion , Princeton 1999, pp. 212-236; Sarah Broadie : Ethics with Aristotle , New York / Oxford 1991, pp. 412-433; Richard Kraut: Aristotle on the Human Good , Princeton 1989, pp. 15-31; Gabriel Richardson Lear: Happy Lives and the Highest Good , Princeton 2004, pp. 175-207; Don Asselin: Human Nature and Eudaimonia in Aristotle , New York 1988, pp. 135-169, 174 f.
  47. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1098a. See Jan Szaif: Gut des Menschen , Berlin 2012, pp. 103-105; Terence H. Irwin: Permanent Happiness: Aristotle and Solon . In: Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 3, 1985, pp. 89-124.
  48. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1099a – 1100a.
  49. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1153b. On the “vulnerability” of eudaimonia see Martha C. Nussbaum: The fragility of goodness , Cambridge 1986, pp. 318–342.
  50. Aristotle, Rhetoric 1360b – 1362a; Nicomachean Ethics 1099b, 1178b-1180a. See Stephen A. White: Sovereign Virtue , Stanford 1992, pp. 109-187.
  51. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1153b – 1154a.
  52. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1169b – 1170a.
  53. Jan Szaif: Gut des Menschen , Berlin 2012, pp. 147–154; John M. Cooper: Reason and Emotion , Princeton 1999, pp. 292-311; Richard Kraut: Aristotle on the Human Good , Princeton 1989, pp. 7-9, 267-311; Gabriel Richardson Lear: Happy Lives and the Highest Good , Princeton 2004, pp. 2-4, 25-28, 40-43; Anthony Kenny : Aristotle on the Perfect Life , Oxford 1992, pp. 36-42.
  54. Aristotle, Politics 1323b.
  55. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1099b – 1100a. See Stephen A. White: Sovereign Virtue , Stanford 1992, pp. 101-107.
  56. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1117b.
  57. Hans Krämer : Eudoxus of Knidos . In: Hellmut Flashar (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , Vol. 3, 2nd edition, Basel 2004, pp. 56–66, here: 64–66.
  58. Speusippus, fragment 77; see Hans Krämer: Speusipp . In: Hellmut Flashar (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , vol. 3, 2nd edition, Basel 2004, pp. 13–31, here: 27–29; Margherita Isnardi Parente (ed.): Speusippo: Frammenti , Neapel 1980, p. 349 f .; Leonardo Tarán: Speusippus of Athens , Leiden 1981, pp. 435–437.
  59. Diogenes Laertios 4:12.
  60. Hans Krämer: Xenokrates . In: Hellmut Flashar (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , vol. 3, 2nd edition, Basel 2004, pp. 32–55, here: 35, 53 f.
  61. ^ Diogenes Laertios 5.86.
  62. Hans Krämer: Herakleides Pontikos . In: Hellmut Flashar (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , vol. 3, 2nd edition, Basel 2004, pp. 67–80, here: 70; Eckart Schütrumpf (Ed.): Heraclides of Pontus. Texts and Translation , New Brunswick 2008, pp. 84-87; Hans B. Gottschalk: Heraclides of Pontus , Oxford 1980, p. 113 f.
  63. Epinomis 973b-974a.
  64. Epinomis 977b-978b.
  65. Epinomis 990a-992d.
  66. Malte Hossenfelder (Ed.): Antike Glückslehren , 2nd, updated and supplemented edition, Stuttgart 2013, p. XXVI.
  67. Hans Krämer: The late phase of the older academy . In: Hellmut Flashar (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , Vol. 3, 2nd edition, Basel 2004, pp. 113–165, here: 118–120.
  68. Hans Krämer: The late phase of the older academy . In: Hellmut Flashar (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , vol. 3, 2nd edition, Basel 2004, pp. 113–165, here: 124.
  69. ^ Woldemar Görler : Carneades . In: Hellmut Flashar (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , Vol. 4/2, Basel 1994, pp. 849–897, here: 878–881.
  70. Philon's concept is reproduced in Johannes Stobaios , Eclogae 2,7; Greek text and English translation by Charles Brittain: Philo of Larissa. The Last of the Academic Skeptics , Oxford 2001, pp. 364-366 (and discussion pp. 255-262, 277-295). See also Woldemar Görler: Philon from Larisa . In: Hellmut Flashar (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , Vol. 4/2, Basel 1994, pp. 915-937, here: 926 f. See Malcolm Schofield: Academic Therapy: Philo of Larissa and Cicero's Project in the Tusculans . In: Gillian Clark, Tessa Rajak (eds.): Philosophy and Power in the Graeco-Roman World , Oxford 2002, pp. 91-109, here: 91-99.
  71. See on the position of Antiochus Woldemar Görler: Antiochos from Askalon . In: Hellmut Flashar (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy. Die Philosophie der Antike , Vol. 4/2, Basel 1994, pp. 939–967, here: 955–964; John Dillon : The Middle Platonists , London 1977, pp. 71-74; Paul Moraux : Aristotelianism among the Greeks , vol. 1, Berlin 1973, p. 336 f. See François Prost: L'éthique d'Antiochus d'Ascalon . In: Philologus 145, 2001, pp. 244-268.
  72. Christian Tornau : "Virtue is sufficient to achieve happiness": the stoic self-sufficiency formula in Imperial Platonism . In: Christian Pietsch (ed.): Ethik des antiken Platonismus , Stuttgart 2013, pp. 141–158, here: 143, 145–150, 153.
  73. Attikos, fragment 2. Cf. Claudio Moreschini: Attico: una figura singolare del medioplatonismo . In: Rise and Fall of the Roman World , Vol. II 36.1, Berlin 1987, pp. 477–491, here: 480–482; John Dillon: The Middle Platonists , London 1977, pp. 251 f.
  74. Alkinous, Didaskalikos 27.3; 27.5.
  75. For details, see Stephen A. White, Happiness in the Hellenistic Lyceum . In: Apeiron Vol. 35 No. 4, 2002, pp. 69-93 (cf. the statement by Brad Inwood, pp. 95-101).
  76. Diogenes Laertios 5.43 and 5.59. See Fritz Wehrli , Georg Wöhrle : Theophrast . In: Hellmut Flashar (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , Vol. 3, 2nd edition, Basel 2004, pp. 506–557, here: 529, 531, 548, 605.
  77. Jan Szaif: Gut des Menschen , Berlin 2012, pp. 154–211.
  78. ^ Paul Moraux: Aristotelianism among the Greeks , Vol. 1, Berlin 1973, pp. 328 f., 336, 353-359; Pamela M. Huby: Peripatetic Definitions of Happiness . In: William Wall Fortenbaugh (Ed.): On Stoic and Peripatetic Ethics , New Brunswick 1983, pp. 121-134.
  79. See also Paul Moraux: Der Aristotelismus bei den Greeks , Vol. 2, Berlin 1984, pp. 272–274, 277–279.
  80. ^ Robert W. Sharples : Writings and problem complexes on ethics . In: Paul Moraux: Aristotelianism among the Greeks , Vol. 3, Berlin 2001, pp. 511–616, here: 613–615.
  81. Peter Steinmetz : The Stoa . In: Hellmut Flashar (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy. Die Philosophie der Antike , Vol. 4/2, Basel 1994, pp. 491–716, here: 541–544, 612 f .; Paul Moraux: Aristotelianism among the Greeks , Vol. 1, Berlin 1973, p. 354. Cf. Terence H. Irwin: Stoic and Aristotelian conceptions of happiness . In: Malcolm Schofield, Gisela Striker (Ed.): The Norms of Nature. Studies in Hellenistic ethics , Cambridge 1986, pp. 205-244; Anthony Arthur Long: Stoic Studies , Cambridge 1996, pp. 179-201.
  82. Peter Steinmetz: The Stoa . In: Hellmut Flashar (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , Vol. 4/2, Basel 1994, pp. 491–716, here: 612 f.
  83. Peter Steinmetz: The Stoa . In: Hellmut Flashar (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy. Die Philosophie der Antike , Vol. 4/2, Basel 1994, pp. 491–716, here: 656–658.
  84. Peter Steinmetz: The Stoa . In: Hellmut Flashar (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , Vol. 4/2, Basel 1994, pp. 491–716, here: 690–692.
  85. ^ Giovanni Reale: A History of Ancient Philosophy , Vol. 3, Albany 1985, pp. 21-38.
  86. Diogenes Laertios 6, 70 f. On the cynical understanding of eudaimonia , see Marie-Odile Goulet-Cazé: L'ascèse cynique , Paris 1986, pp. 35–76.
  87. ^ Epicurus, letter to Menoikeus 122.
  88. Michael Erler : Epicurus . In: Hellmut Flashar (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , Vol. 4/1, Basel 1994, pp. 29–202, here: 127, 153–159, 162–167.
  89. Michael Erler: Epicurus . In: Hellmut Flashar (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy. Die Philosophie der Antike , Vol. 4/1, Basel 1994, pp. 29–202, here: 104, 127 f., 153 f., 162, 166 f., 169.
  90. Diogenes Laertios 2.87 f .; 2.90; 2.93 f. See also Klaus Döring: Aristippus from Kyrene and the Kyrenaïker . In: Hellmut Flashar (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , Vol. 2/1, Basel 1998, pp. 246–266, here: 252–258.
  91. James Warren: The Cyrenaics . In: James Warren, Frisbee Sheffield (ed.): The Routledge Companion to Ancient Philosophy , New York 2014, pp. 409-422, here: 417-421; Voula Tsouna-McKirahan: Is there an exception to Greek eudaimonism? In: Monique Canto-Sperber, Pierre Pellegrin (ed.): Le style de la pensée , Paris 2002, pp. 464–489.
  92. Diogenes Laertios 9,107.
  93. Woldemar Görler: Older Pyrrhonism. Younger academy. Antiochus from Ascalon . In: Hellmut Flashar (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , Vol. 4/2, Basel 1994, pp. 717-989, here: 735 f., 738, 745, 754 f., 760 f .; Malte Hossenfelder (Ed.): Antike Glückslehren , 2nd, updated and supplemented edition, Stuttgart 2013, pp. 292–300.
  94. ^ Paul Moraux: Aristotelianism among the Greeks , Vol. 2, Berlin 1984, pp. 644–647.
  95. Ragnar Holte: Glück (bliss) . In: Reallexikon für Antike und Christianentum , Vol. 11, Stuttgart 1981, Sp. 246–270, here: 250–252, 256.
  96. See Christian Tornau: "Virtue is sufficient to achieve happiness": the stoic autarky formula in Platonism during the imperial period . In: Christian Pietsch (ed.): Ethik des antiken Platonismus , Stuttgart 2013, pp. 141–158, here: 146 f.
  97. Cicero, De finibus bonorum et malorum 2.86-104.
  98. ^ Woldemar Görler: Antiochus from Askalon and his school . In: Hellmut Flashar (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , Vol. 4/2, Basel 1994, pp. 938–980, here: 973.
  99. Cicero, Tusculanae disputationes 5,21; 5.28-30; 5.39.
  100. Seneca, De vita beata 1,1.
  101. Seneca, De vita beata 3.3.
  102. Seneca, Epistulae morales 76.15 f .; 92.2.
  103. Ilsetraut Hadot: Seneca and the Greco-Roman tradition of soul guidance , Berlin 1969, pp. 99-108.
  104. Seneca, Epistulae morales 92.3.
  105. Ilsetraut Hadot: Seneca and the Greco-Roman tradition of soul guidance , Berlin 1969, pp. 126-137.
  106. Seneca, Epistulae morales 9: 20-22.
  107. ^ Anthony Arthur Long: Plotinus, Ennead 1.4 as Critique of Earlier Eudaimonism . In: Rachana Kamtekar (ed.): Virtue and Happiness: Essays in Honor of Julia Annas , Oxford 2012, pp. 245–263.
  108. Plotin, Enneades I 4.1. See Kieran McGroarty: Plotinus on Eudaimonia , Oxford 2006, pp. 41-49.
  109. ^ Plotin, Enneades I 4, 1–2. See Wilhelm Himmerich: Eudaimonia , Würzburg 1959, pp. 19-37; Kieran McGroarty: Plotinus on Eudaimonia , Oxford 2006, pp. 49-70.
  110. Plotin, Enneades I 4,3-4. See John M. Cooper: Pursuits of Wisdom , Princeton 2012, pp. 363-381; Kieran McGroarty: Plotinus on Eudaimonia , Oxford 2006, pp. 71-95.
  111. Plotinus, Enneads I 4.4 to 16. Cf. Christian Tornau: "Virtue is sufficient to achieve happiness": the stoic autarky formula in Platonism during the imperial period . In: Christian Pietsch (ed.): Ethik des antiken Platonismus , Stuttgart 2013, pp. 141–158, here: 153–156; Kieran McGroarty: Plotinus on Eudaimonia , Oxford 2006, pp. 94-200.
  112. Christian Tornau: "Virtue is sufficient to achieve happiness": the stoic self-sufficiency formula in Imperial Platonism . In: Christian Pietsch (ed.): Ethik des antiken Platonismus , Stuttgart 2013, pp. 141–158, here: 156 f.
  113. John Dillon: The Middle Platonists , London 1977, pp. 145-148.
  114. Ragnar Holte: Glück (bliss) . In: Reallexikon für Antike und Christianentum , Vol. 11, Stuttgart 1981, Sp. 246-270, here: 251, 258 f., 262-268.
  115. Ragnar Holte: Glück (bliss) . In: Reallexikon für Antike und Christianentum , Vol. 11, Stuttgart 1981, Sp. 246–270, here: 260.
  116. Ragnar Holte: Glück (bliss) . In: Reallexikon für Antike und Christianentum , Vol. 11, Stuttgart 1981, Sp. 246–270, here: 260–263.
  117. Laktanz, Epitome divinarum institutionum 28; Divinae institutiones 3, 7-11.
  118. ^ Laktanz, Divinae institutiones 3,12.
  119. Kieran McGroarty: Plotinus on Eudaimonia , Oxford 2006, pp. 201-204.
  120. Ambrose of Milan, De officiis 2,5,18 f .; 2,4,10.
  121. Ambrose of Milan, De officiis 2, 4, 10–2, 5, 17; 2,5,20 f .; De Iacob et vita beata 1,6,24-1,8,39.
  122. ^ Ambrosius of Milan, De Iacob et vita beata 1,7,29.
  123. Ambrosius of Milan, De Iacob et vita beata 1,1,1; 1,7,29.
  124. Michael W. Tkacz: St. Augustine's appropriation and transformation of Aristotelian eudaimonia . In: Jon Miller (Ed.): The reception of Aristotle's ethics , Cambridge 2012, pp. 67-84.
  125. ^ Augustine, De beata vita 1,1.
  126. Augustine, De beata vita 4.25; 4.27; 4.33.
  127. Augustine, De beata vita 4.25; 4.28.
  128. Augustine, De civitate dei 19: 1-4.
  129. ^ Augustine, Retractationes 1,2.
  130. Boethius, Consolatio philosophiae , Book 3 Prose 2.
  131. Boethius, Consolatio philosophiae , Book 3 Prose 3.
  132. Boethius, Consolatio philosophiae , Book 3 Prose 2-10.
  133. Harvey Alan Shapiro: Eudaimonia I . In: Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (LIMC), Vol. 4/1, Zurich 1988, p. 46 f. (Text) and Vol. 4/2, Zurich 1988, p. 21 f. (Images).
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