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Durable Goods

Pleasure, Wealth and Power in the Virtuous Life

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Gerol Petruzella

Ancient Greek philosophers generally accept the claim that εὐδαιμονία is within our power to achieve, regardless of circumstance. Conversely, external goods – physical health, education, social standing – are frequently present or absent due to circumstances beyond our control. Can eudaimonism explain how more than a privileged elite can attain εὐδαιμονία when so few enjoy the requisite external goods?
A satisfactory account of the relation between external goods and well-being must accommodate both the insight that there is an essential connection between prosperity and the flourishing life and that there is a real sense in which εὐδαιμονία is a self-sufficient concept. The «applied intellectualist» interpretation of eudaimonism defended here accommodates important insights of several ancient Greek traditions: Aristotle’s account of human nature, specifically the role of external goods as necessary preconditions for leading a human life; Socratic and Stoic analysis that external goods are necessary constituents of moral action; and Plato’s commitment to a criterion for judging the compatibility of external prosperity with a life of εὐδαιμονία.
This text provides a comprehensive linguistic and ethical analysis of key terms and arguments across several centuries of ancient Greek ethical thought on this fascinating topic, making it an excellent foundation for an upper-division undergraduate seminar in ancient Greek ethics, virtue ethics, or applied ethics.

BIC Classifications

  • Literature & literary studies (D)
    • Literature: history & criticism (DS)
      • Literary studies: general (DSB)
        • Literary studies: classical, early & medieval (DSBB)
  • Humanities (H)
    • Philosophy (HP)
      • History of Western philosophy (HPC)
        • Western philosophy: Ancient, to c 500 (HPCA)

BISAC Classifications

  • Foreign Language Study (FOR)
    • FOREIGN LANGUAGE STUDY / Ancient Languages (see also Latin) (FOR033000)
  • Literary Criticism (LIT)
    • LITERARY CRITICISM / Ancient & Classical (LIT004190)
  • Philosophy (PHI)
    • PHILOSOPHY / General (PHI000000)
    • PHILOSOPHY / History & Surveys / Ancient & Classical (PHI002000)

THEMA Classifications

  • Biography, Literature & Literary studies (D)
    • Literature: history & criticism (DS)
      • Literary studies: general (DSB)
        • Literary studies: ancient, classical & medieval (DSBB)
  • Society & Social Sciences (J)
    • Politics & government (JP)
      • Political science & theory (JPA)
  • Philosophy & Religion (Q)
    • Philosophy (QD)
      • History of philosophy, philosophical traditions (QDH)
        • Ancient philosophy (QDHA)
      • Topics in philosophy (QDT)
        • Social & political philosophy (QDTS)
  • Language qualifiers (2)
    • Indo-European languages (2A)
      • Hellenic languages (2AH)
        • Ancient (Classical) Greek (2AHA)