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Stoic Eudaimonism. Overview The end for which everything is done but which is not itself done for the sake of anything [summum bonum] (Long). The telos.

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Presentation on theme: "Stoic Eudaimonism. Overview The end for which everything is done but which is not itself done for the sake of anything [summum bonum] (Long). The telos."— Presentation transcript:

1 Stoic Eudaimonism

2 Overview The end for which everything is done but which is not itself done for the sake of anything [summum bonum] (Long). The telos [goal/end] in which Stoic ethics finds its purpose o Living in agreement [with nature], Good flow of life (Zeno) Eudaimonism correctly translate to happiness in an objective sense [attainment of good/s] and in a subjective sense [a contented state of mind]

3 Eudaimonia vs. Happiness A blessed or god-favored condition Both objective features of happiness (attainment of good) and subjective connotation (content state of mind) Not used to describe transient moods or satisfactions, like in English A persons lot or daimon is good, they are flourishing Emotional balance is clearly a part of eudaimonia for Long

4 Standard Features of Eudaimonia 1. It is what everyone desires 2. It results from the acquisition of good things / absence of bad things 3. It is what the gods have 4. It is profitable 5. It involves freedom to do what one wants to do 6. It involves living well 7. It is peoples ultimate objective - no need to ask why someone wants eudaimonia Long says these features would be endorsed by most Greeks Long says Stoics arent trying to redefine happiness, they agree with these features

5 Before Socrates and Plato Secure possession of goods that partly depend on chance - wealth, health, fame, family success Difficult to achieve, conditions partly outside human power Pessimists will believe this A persons modest expectations and moral character Revisionists will believe this Based more on an individual's power, much more possible to obtain

6 Socrates, Plato, Epicurus, Aristotle Happiness is either wholly or partly a state and activity of the soul Happiness is either wholly or partly generated by ethical virtue Ethical virtue is an active state of the soul Plato adds pleasure to ethical virtue as parts of happiness Aristotle adds external goods to ethical virtue Epicurus - ethical virtue is a tool to happiness, pleasure actually constitutes happiness Stoics are unique - happiness is constituted entirely of ethical virtue, nothing else Some claim that Stoic eudaimonism is an extreme version of Aristotelian eudaimonism simply with a large emphasis on virtue; Long disagrees, he thinks its more complex than that

7 Socrates/Cynic tradition Stoic Eudaimonia seems to share with Socratic/Cynic tradition that only one thing is good, namely knowledge or virtue, and only one thing is bad, namely ignorance or vice Externals or indifferents only have value in their conjunction with knowledge Goodness/badness and happiness/unhappiness thus depend entirely on knowledge/virtue or ignorance/vice

8 Divine Providence & Determinism 1) a radical intuition concerning nature or the divine government of the world and the connexion of this government with human rationality. 2) a belief that happiness more or less coincides with the natural and divine plan for human well- being. (185)

9 Divine Providence & Determinism a belief that happiness more or less coincides with the natural and divine plan for human well- being. Socratic/Cynic tradition (186) Socrates adaptive strategy (Irwin) telos (i.e. happiness) = living in agreement with nature ?

10 Divine Providence & Determinism a radical intuition concerning nature or the divine government of the world and the connexion of this government with human rationality. Theocratic postulate (187-8) Happiness consists in obedience to Zeus, or divine universal law Happiness = accord with virtue + living in agreement with nature

11 Divine Providence & Determinism Living in agreement with nature = Engaging in no activity which the common law is wont to forbid, which is the right reason pervading everything and identical to Zeus, who directs the organisation of reality. And the virtue of the happy man and his good flow of life consists in this: always doing everything on the basis of the concordance of each mans guardian spirit (daimon) with the will of the director of the universe. (187) -Chrysippus

12 Objections to Stoic account of Eudaimonism Impoverishment objection Stoic interpretation/account of happiness does not coincide with features of happiness [positive emotions, fulfillment of expectations, etc.] Disingenuousness objection Stoic telos equates to happiness only superficially and in purely formal terms

13 External Perspective of Stoic Happiness There is no other or more appropriate way of approaching the theory of good and bad things or the virtues or happiness than from universal nature and from the administration of the world (Chrysippus). Happiness depends on a good flow of life [pattern of activity] in which human nature agrees with a universal nature by conforming to its governing principles [rationality], as embodied in the world animal [one universal mind and will]. Humanity as part of a divine world organization Divine world organization [universe] governed by rational principles Rationality constitutes our human part in the universal nature

14 Synthesis of Internal and External Perspectives in Determinism and Divine Providence There was no way, given the antecedent conditions, that life would not be lush in California and harsh in Ethiopia… It follows that the state of the world at any one time is the best possible. This may not be apparent from the viewpoint of the Ethiopians, but if it were possible for a human being to observe the global economy from the divine perspective, reason would constrain him or her to acknowledge that fact (Long 191).


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