What Is the Good Life?

It is no easy task to be good. For in everything it is no easy task to find the middle, e.g. to find the middle of a circle is not for every one but for him who knows; so, too, any one can get angry—that is easy—or to give or spend money; but to do this to the right person, to the right extent, at the right time, with the right motive, and in the right way, that is not for every one, nor is it easy; wherefore goodness is both rare and laudable and noble.

- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1109a24

Podcast of the Day

Each week Melvyn is joined by four guests with different backgrounds to discuss a really big question. This week he's asking 'How do I live a good life'?

Helping him answer it are historian Justin Champion, neuropsychologist Paul Broks , theologian Naomi Appleton and philosopher Jules Evans.

Listen to the History of Ideas episode: How Do I Live a Good Life?

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

Parents often say: ‘I just want my children to be happy.’ It is unusual to hear: ‘I just want my children’s lives to be meaningful,’ yet that’s what most of us seem to want for ourselves. We fear meaninglessness. We fret about the ‘nihilism’ of this or that aspect of our culture. When we lose a sense of meaning, we get depressed. What is this thing we call meaning, and why might we need it so badly?...

Continue reading Roy F. Baumeister's article: What is better – a happy life or a meaningful one?

Further Reading

...‘Happiness’ is often used, in ordinary life, to refer to a short-lived state of a person, frequently a feeling of contentment: ‘You look happy today’; ‘I’m very happy for you’. Philosophically, its scope is more often wider, encompassing a whole life. And in philosophy it is possible to speak of the happiness of a person’s life, or of their happy life, even if that person was in fact usually pretty miserable. The point is that some good things in their life made it a happy one, even though they lacked contentment. But this usage is uncommon, and may cause confusion.

Over the last few decades, so-called ‘positive psychology’ has hugely increased the attention paid by psychologists and other scientists to the notion of ‘happiness’. Such happiness is usually understood in terms of contentment or ‘life-satisfaction’, and is measured by means such as self-reports or daily questionnaires. Is positive psychology about well-being? As yet, conceptual distinctions are not sufficiently clear within the discipline. But it is probably fair to say that many of those involved, as researchers or as subjects, are assuming that one’s life goes well to the extent that one is contented with it—that is, that some kind of hedonistic account of well-being is correct...

Continue reading the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Well-being by Roger Crisp

Bonus Webcomic

Related Topics

AristotleEpictetus | AuthenticityDesireEvolutionary Psychology | Hedonism | KantMindfulness | Plato

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