The Paradox of Eudaimonism: An Existential Critique

John Davenport

in Will as Commitment and Resolve

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print July 2007 | ISBN: 9780823225750
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235896 | DOI:
The Paradox of Eudaimonism: An               Existential Critique

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The Transmission principle and the weak erosiac thesis provide the psychological basis for Aristotle's eudaimonism. Yet when he tries to work out a conception of virtue, Aristotle describes forms of ethical motivation that are ultimately incoherent with his eudaimonist framework. This is evident in the so-called the “paradox of eudaimonism”, which arises from the formal egoism to which Aristotle's psychology commits him. This chapter argues that Aristotle's conception of virtuous motivation as aimed at the noble for its own sake is incompatible with A-eudaimonism. It is concerned primarily with eudaimonist conceptions of virtue and friendship. It argues that virtuous motivation is not only materially unselfish, but also formally non-egoistic. Starting with contemporary efforts by Richard Kraut and Julia Annas to make sense of Aristotle's account of friendship, it argues that Aristotle conflates by-product goods and intentional goals. Aiming at our happiness as our highest end is self-defeating, since our happiness is in large part a by-product of motivating ourselves to pursue self-transcending ends or goals.

Keywords: Aristotle; motivation; virtue; eudaimonism; happiness; friendship; Richard Kraut; Julia Annas; goals; A-eudaimonism

Chapter.  16006 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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