What philosophers say really defines happiness
5 famous philosophers and their interpretation of happiness
Last update: 16 May, 2017
Finding a definition for the word bliss is a mammoth task. A mystic interprets happiness very differently than a statesman or the average Otto consumer. Both in everyday life and in philosophy we encounter different views of happiness.
Throughout this article, you'll find a few of these philosophical views.
"All mortal beings are in search of happiness - a sign that no one can call it their own."
Aristotle and metaphysical bliss
For the greatest metaphysical philosopher, Aristotle, happiness is the maximum pursuit of all human beings. In his opinion, the key to happiness lies in our virtues. So if we use our abilities to the full, we will be happy.
According to the statement of Aristotle, this does not mean a certain state, it is more a question of a lifestyle. It is characteristic of this lifestyle that everyone should get the best out of themselves.
In order to find perfect happiness, one must also be careful with the character and have a good “daimon” (good fate or a lucky hand). Hence his thesis about bliss is also known as “eudaimonia”.
Aristotle set the philosophical course for Christianity. For this reason, the approaches of this philosopher and the principles of the Judeo-Christian religions are very similar.
Epicurus and the hedonistic bliss
Epik was a Greek philosopher who contradicted metaphysicians in many ways. For example, he did not believe that happiness has nothing to do with the spiritual world, but also with earthly conditions.
He founded the so-called Epicurean School, according to whose principles he lived and philosophized.
In his view, happiness is determined by equilibrium and abstinence. This approach is also reflected in one of his most famous quotes: "Nothing is good enough for someone for whom the bare essentials are few."
He thought that love had little to do with happiness, but friendship had a lot to do. He also held to the belief that one should not work for goods but to love what one does.
Nietzsche and Critical Happiness
Nietzsche is of the opinion that a life in abundance and without any worries is a personal wish of mediocre people who would ascribe no more value to life.
He's standing critical of happiness. In his opinion, happiness means that you are doing well because the conditions are favorable or your fate is good for you. However, this is only a short-term condition that can be over at any time.
Bliss is therefore a "lousy traitor", because carelessness and a carefree time don't last forever.
He thinks that happiness is in our own strength to overcome any hurdle, that takes our freedom and self-affirmation away from us.
Be happy therefore means being able to test willpower by defying fate and creating our own.
José Ortega y Gasset and bliss as a happy coincidence
For Ortega y Gasset, happiness arises when “the imagined life” and “real life” coincide, that is, when our desires correspond to reality.
This philosopher once said:
“When we ask ourselves what this ideal spiritual state called bliss consists of, we easily come to this answer: Happiness consists in finding something that really satisfies us.
More precisely, this statement leads us to the next question: What is this subjective state of complete satisfaction? And what objective conditions must be given in order to satisfy us? "
According to this, everyone has the potential and the desire to be happy. That is to say that each individual defines for himself which realities can make him happy. If he should succeed in realizing this, his search for happiness would be over.
Slavoj Zizek and the paradoxical bliss
This philosopher is convinced that Happiness depends on one's own opinion and not on the truth. He regards it as a product of capitalist values that promise complete satisfaction through consumption.
But inside the person is dissatisfied because in truth he doesn't even know what he really wants.
Each of us would believe that we would be happy if we got something in particular (by buying an item, getting a better status, etc.). But subconsciously we would want something else and therefore we are unhappy.
And how do you interpret the word “bliss”?
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