Eudaemonism (Gr. εὐδαιμονία, happiness), a principle in philosophical ethics according to which the attainment of happiness is represented as the true aim of life. Those who hold this view are called EUDEMONISTS. Opposed to eudsemonism are all those systems of ethics which regard not the pleasure of the individual, but the recognition of some universal law as the higher principle. Eudeemonism lay at the basis of the Cyrenaic school founded by Aristippus, and of the Epicurean philosophy (q.v.). It was developed to its utmost consequences by Hegesias, who taught that if no enjoyments are to be expected by men, death is preferable to life. Essentially different from this class of Eudaemonists is the system of Aristotle, who regarded virtue as a spiritual enjoyment, and in this sense represented ethics as the doctrine of seeking and finding a happy life. This view has found adherents among Christian writers on ethics, who define and treat ethics as the doctrine of a happy life. Others have combined with eudaemonism common usefulness, moral sentiment, and perfection, and thus have purified and ennobled it. Belonging properly to the schools of Aristippus and Epicurus are in modern times the different systems of sensualism (q.v.) and materialism (q.v.). In an ennobled form, Eudsemonism reappears in some representatives of the Scotch school, who, in opposition to the self-love of Hobbes, develop the longing for universal happiness as the supreme ethical principle. In direct and keen opposition to every form of eudaemonism, Kant established the principle of the categorical superlative, according to which the good must be done for its own sake, and the moral law, with the duties emanating from it, can alone be made the central principle of ethics. SEE KANT. Schleiermacher assigned to the idea of the highest good the highest position in ethics, and likewise rejected Eudaemonism as a principle. This is now, in general, the attitude of writers on Christian ethics; the thirst of man for happiness is not absolutely rejected, but it is found unsuited for a fundamental principle, which must be sought in a universaldivine law, not in the natural longings of the individual. SEE ETHICS. Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 4:207.

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

Verse reference tagging and popups powered by VerseClick™.