Michael Masiello’s answer to Which would be better for humanity in the long run, everyone being a Catholic Christian or everyone being an atheist?

I would argue that what would be better for humanity in the long run has something to do with the cultivation of eudaimonistic virtues — ethical and civic values that aim to maximize human flourishing and minimize discrimination.

The Magister has defined eudaimonistic for us right there. It is a quite resonant word, though you have to be across Ancient Greek philosophy to pick up the nuance (as indeed the Magister is).

Eudaimonia is an Ancient Greek word for happiness. It comes from eu “good” and daimon “daemon”; originally the daimon was not a demon, but a spirit—and a spirit that people have with them. In fact, the notion was not too dissimilar to the notion of a guardian angel.

Aristotle famously defined eudaimonia as the highest human good, and the goal all humans should be working towards. It’s not just being happy for yourself, selfishly. It’s not about getting ripped with hookers and blow. It’s the happiness which comes with being virtuous, righteous. It’s the happiness that sees you flourishing to your full human potential.

It’s the warm fuzzies you get, as if you realise that there’s a guardian angel looking after you—but you know that the guardian angel is only going to be looking after you so long as you Do The Right Thing. And the philosophers weren’t Calvinists: their discussions were all about You doing the right thing, and the eudaimonia being its own reward.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *