Let us start off with a definition. The eudaimon is the psychogical archetype of the virtuous person; one who fosters through force of habit certain dispositions which characterise virtue. The virtues are characteristics of a person which foster good character; characterics which foster the normative ideals of a person. To be virtuous is to foster the best kind of character imbued in a person. To be virtuous is to be the best one can be. This is the eudaimon.
Many people seem to think that virtue is relative. What do I mean by that? Well; bravery for some people would include what is very simple for another. The definition of our excellence of character is by the standpoint for who we are, and not from the standpoint of others. To push ourselves through much studious nature means something different to Antisophie as it would to me. For me, reading the Critique is more of a joy, where, for Antisophie, it is a form of self-indulgence.
Edward Harcourt, in a seminar that I attended; once made no answer, or rather, left it open to the issue of whether the Eudaimon, that is, who is in the most flourishing state of a person due to the fostering of her virtues; is a morally indifferent character. What I mean by this is specifically to say that if we are to consider the best, most virtuous conception of who we are, in lieu of our imbued natural dispositions, may be what we may call ‘evil’. It may be the case, for instance, that if we were to fullyfoster our talents and become the best, and most flourishing character we could be, it may be an evil one. This is an unsettling conclusion, but not the subject of my thought in this post.
Kant identifies that happiness is not the goal of our moral agency. We do not, or rather, we should not act towards the achievement of our own happines explicitly; however, it is the case such that we aim, in order to seek the highest good of our own virtue and the collective happiness of others, that one of the entailments of the summum bonum obtaining is that we will be happy. Let me give an analogy; we can conceive of the act of making love by means as an expression of tenderness, by way of consolidating the facets and dimensions of a relationship, the many complex and intimate ways of association that occur between people expressed most fully, and most reciprocally, in that such intimate contact of intercourse; although other forms of tactile activity that may exclude the sexual may express this also. We touch the other that we love, not for what it does for us, but in order to express assurance; and this, in ret, leads to our own sense of satisfaction, but not with guarantee…
Is happiness not dissimilar for the Kantian? Self-satisfaction in terms of the fulfillment of inclination is not the appropriate grounding for action. Actions only from the duty prescribed by the moral law and motivated towards the kingdom of ends may, perhaps be the appropriate grounding. In short, happiness doesn’t come into it; for true moral conduct. Following the intimacy metaphor; we do not engage with loving others for our own fulfillment, to engage in love is an act of giving wherein there is neither expectation nor guarantee for reciprocity. There is only, instead, hope; but it is not this hope that forms our basis and motivation for love.
Does the eudaimon need to be happy? I don’t think so. Happiness is a self-indulgence; and indulgences should be conceptualised in phenomenological terms, rather than as a dispositional state; in the same way a virtue disposition may be; so to say ‘courage’ is in the same class of terms as ‘indulgent’; but indulgences such as ‘satisfaction’, ‘pride’, or ‘happiness’ are NOT dispositional in the same way as courage; they are more affectations than foundations of character. If happiness were a founding component of our character…what empty character we would have!
We are left with Pandora’s b0x; where all the good things have escaped, and all we have inside it is hope; the hope for happiness. It is not our goal, but we may hope, it can come when our ends obtain.
Destre (and Michael)