Greek Word Used By Aristotle Essay
How does εὐδαιμονία differ from the modern notion of happiness? The Greek word used by Aristotle in Nicomachean Ethics for “happiness” is εὐδαιμονία. The translation, “happiness,” can be misleading, because etymologically, it is made up of εὖ and δαίμων, meaning, “well, good” and “divinity, fortune,” respectively. So, εὐδαιμονία literally means, “having a good fortune,” or “having a good divinity.” The latter points to something like having a divine being guiding our steps and showing us the right way, which essentially seems to be good luck.
However, for me, happiness is my emotional state when I feel positive emotions. It is the feeling I get when I am enjoying something. This is a familiar concept for all of us, but when Aristotle talks about “happiness” in Nicomachean Ethics, it does not coincide with our modern notions of happiness. While we nowadays feel happiness on distinct occasions, Aristotle appears to see it as a lasting quality; it is not even a quality but an activity, which lasts the whole life for Aristotle. “Happiness” is valuable for Aristotle as he considers it to be the highest good of man and that at which every action aims. He considers it to be something divine. Besides, as indicated earlier, the literal meaning of εὐδαιμονία does point us towards divinity. So, does εὐδαιμονία depend on our fortune, and thus the divine? Not for Aristotle, he associates εὐδαιμονία with “living well” and “doing well” as he states:
“…What it is…