Happiness fact 41: hedonism = what we learn from ancient Greece about happiness

Years ago, a little argument developed among a bunch of free Greek men with too much time on their hands and too many neurons for their own good. They were trying to create a definitive description of the Good Life.
Their argument stretched across several decades, and many luminaries joined in; Gorgias, Aristotle, Aristippus, Epicurus, Epictetus, Plato, etc.
  • Homer represents the hedonic argument, famously defended by Aristippus. Hedonic happiness is getting what feels good and avoiding what feels bad.
  • Meredith represents the eudaimonic argument, famously defended by Heart Boy himself, Aristotle. Eudaimonic happiness is working to develop your virtues to their greatest capacity.
Psychologists are working to resolve the question of whether these are different kinds ofhappiness, different routes of happiness, different sides of the same happiness coin, or two names for the same thing, like puma and cougar. For most people, the best life is one that combines the two. Most of us want to feel good, few of us like pain, and most of us would like to be good people and fulfill our potential in the time we have.

Source: Seeking a life that matters. by Michael F. Steger, Ph.D. (2009)

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