From Eudaimonia To Happiness. Overview On The Concept Of Happiness In The Ancient Greek Culture With A Few Glimpses On Modern Time

7352 words - 29 pages

From eudaimonia to happiness. Overview on the concept of happiness in the ancient Greek culture with a few glimpses on modern time*"... that man is happy (eudaimon) and blessed (olbios) who, knowing all these rules, goes on with his work guiltless before the gods... and avoids transgression" (Hesiod, Works and Days 826-828) "Good sense is by far the chief part of happiness, and we must not be impious towards the gods..." (Sophocles, Antigone 1347-1350)[1]1. Introduction"... no matter what our situation is, whether we are rich or poor, educated or not, of one race, gender, religion or another, we all desire to be happy"[2]Among the common problems that, down through the ages, have puzzled humanity, from poets and philosophers to ordinary people, one can certainly include that of happiness.To wish each other happiness in several circumstances of life; to hear of persons who apparently have everything they thought they wanted and yet cannot say to be completely happy; to see persons who have everything we would think able to bring happiness meet, nonetheless, with all sort of problems - such as drug and alcohol - problems that the common sense would confine to the persons struggling with life; all of these are experiences and thoughts that each of us has had at least once. Ironically, it is possible that we, after having witness this paradox, nevertheless have never asked ourselves what happinnes is; or else, if we have, we have possibly experienced a feeling of uneasiness in trying to give an answer, that is, a not vague answer bordering in commonplaces. Interestingly enough, uneasiness and difficulty in defining happiness are apparent in the dictionaries of most of modern languages of the Western Civilization[3]: all definitions appear to be partly tautological, certainly unsatisfactory, given that recurrent motifs are "the state of well-being", "contentment", "satisfaction"[4]. None of those definitions, for instance, explicitly tells us of what "the state of well-being" consists. Moreover, this "state" seems not to really mirror the common view of a happy person: the one who has everything he thinks he wants, should be said to be in a state of well-being, yet he might be unhappy. Does this mean that happiness cannot depend on what is outside an individual, i.e. material goods and other possible sources of "well-being" from having the most expensive and comfortable car to having the job that one most likes? As a matter of fact, the other recurrent motif is that of "contentment" which makes more subjective the concept, and sheds light on what might make difficult to define and understand happiness as a whole.Difficulty or, still better, a feeling of uneasiness is apparent in some definitions a group of undergraduate students has given to the questions "What is happiness? How to define happiness?" As a matter of fact, while some of them could not avoid stating, at the beginning, how difficult describing happiness is and how subjective a...

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