Eudaimonia in Aristotle and ancient philosophy

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Abstract

This paper refers to the Socratic and Platonic conceptions of human flourishing however, the inquiry essentially constitutes an exploration of Aristotle’s understanding of eudaimonia in the Nichomachean Ethics. Aristotle’s apprehension of ‘happiness’ as the highest good forwards an integrative and comprehensive culmination of the eudemonic path to human perfection as conceived by ancient Greek philosophy. In turn, the present inquiry ascertains that the realization of eudaimonia is possible in every epoch. Nevertheless, the overshadowing of scientific materialism today makes the realization of genuine human happiness more difficult to accomplish. The obsession of science with objectivity along with its reductive experimental methods centered on empirical observation, deductive reasoning, inference, and conceptual thinking, eliminates the consciousness of the observer; and this, because scientific inquiry foremostly constitutes an investigation of the outer aspects of natural and material phenomena. Thenceforward, the human being seeking eudaimonia today is called to deconstruct the scientific mode of thinking which methodologically excludes the inward dimensions of the self, thus annuls the philosophical path to self-knowledge and every worthwhile understanding of moral and spiritual reality. Indeed, the pragmatic conception of scientific insight falls short of the wholesome sphere of philosophical truth is incapable of steering humanity toward the direction of a higher more rewarding moral life. In effect, the adversarial intervention of present-day science encumbers and arrests human evolution and this despite the many positive scientific discoveries of our day and age. The offshoot of the cultural matrix inculcated by science has turned the effaced human into a slave of material reality, a slave who is compliantly driven to accept scientific authority on blind faith. Moreover, the abridged by scientific materialism modern person is constantly being fed a surface cultural conception of happiness equivocating prosperity. Divorced from its ontological basis, the confused human is thereby propelled to discover meaning in the satisfaction of transitory desires and the fulfillment of fixed projects or ends. This way, the moral self no longer rises from within the reality of soul and spirit rather is cursorily manufactured from without. Hence, the moral sphere is reduced to nebulous conceptions of duty or to various theories of what ‘ought to be done’; even worse, the dimension of ethical life is compacted to the realm of professional codes of conduct. Consequently, the scientific understanding of the human being along with the moral sphere have increasingly become utilitarian and technical in both their application and thinking; and this detrimental outcome is reflected in the direction of technological developments, which seek to override the real and true by the illusory the virtual and artificial, eradicating thus all sense of inner human dynamics and the natural course of life as a whole. Nowadays, robots will be accorded citizenship and perhaps will seek rights, whereas test tube babies are going to be manufactured in synthetically simulated wombs; and for the sake of an artificial conception of immortality and eudemonic being, perhaps hybrid humans with cloned bodies will be accorded machine hearts lungs and liver as well as machine-like brain enhancement chips. More than any other epoch in history, it is imperative today that the spiritual and ethical dimensions of life be reawakened and recovered. In this direction the careful discernment of various moral cues and noble soul impulses left within us by the activity of ancient Greek philosophy, are sufficient to lead us to the source of the prototypical model of human perfection. In the light of Greek thinking, we may then imbue anew present-day science and technology with the necessary moral and spiritual impulses that can guide and direct us out of the deadlock. Scientific inquiry must by necessity turn its gaze toward the inner sphere of universally fruitful pathways that ennoble the human, bestowing to society dignity and the wholesome beneficence of flourishing life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages80-81
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2019
EventThe Possibility of Eudaimonia in the World Today - VOULIAGMENI , Athens, Greece
Duration: 12 Jul 201915 Jul 2019
Conference number: 31
https://classicalstudies.org/scs-news/conference-31st-international-conference-philosophy-vouliagmeni

Conference

ConferenceThe Possibility of Eudaimonia in the World Today
Country/TerritoryGreece
CityAthens
Period12/07/1915/07/19
Internet address

Keywords

  • theion ti, anthrõpinen sophia, human eudaimonia, political wisdom, refined citizens

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