Øyvind Rabbås as Co-Editor of the book The Quest for the Good Life (OUP)
Sponsored by CSMN, Øyvind Rabbås co-edited and wrote a chapter in the book The Quest for the Good Life: Ancient Philosophers on Happiness, recently published by Oxford University Press.
The Quest for the Good Life: Ancient Philosophers on Happiness. Edited by Øyvind Rabbås, Eyjólfur K. Emilsson, Hallvard Fossheim, and Miira Tuominen.
How should I live? How can I be happy? What is happiness, really? These are perennial questions, which in recent times have become the object of diverse kinds of academic research. Ancient philosophers placed happiness at the centre of their thought, and we can trace the topic through nearly a millennium. While the centrality of the notion of happiness in ancient ethics is well known, this book is unique in that it focuses directly on this notion, as it appears in the ancient texts. Fourteen papers by an international team of scholars map the various approaches and conceptions found from the Pre-Socratics through Plato, Aristotle, Hellenistic Philosophy, to the Neo-Platonists and Augustine in late antiquity. While not promising a formula that can guarantee a greater share in happiness to the reader, the book addresses questions raised by ancient thinkers that are still of deep concern to many people today: Do I have to be a morally good person in order to be happy? Are there purely external criteria for happiness such as success according to received social norms or is happiness merely a matter of an internal state of the person? How is happiness related to the stages of life and generally to time? In this book the reader will find an informed discussion of these and many other questions relating to happiness.
Abstract of chapter 4:
"Eudaimonia, human nature, and normativity: Reflections on Aristotle’s project in Nicomachean Ethics Book I," by Øyvind Rabbås:
Aristotle defines human happiness (eudaimonia) as the successful realization of the human ergon: reason (logos). But if ethics is to be normative, the question is what kind of normativity this can be. After some preliminary remarks on the teleological structure of human endeavour and the place of the notion of eudaimonia within that structure, the chapter focuses on the so-called ‘function [ergon] argument’ (EN I 7), where Aristotle lays out the premises and outline for his entire ethical project. In the final section it is argued that naturalism and normativity can be reconciled once we see that the human ergon is a rational task that, although given by nature, consists in performing rational activities that are constitutive of us, and that therefore set us a task that we cannot but perform, although it is up to us how serious we are about this, i.e. how committed and disciplined we are in doing so.