“I now know that if you describe things as better as they are, you are considered to be romantic; if you describe things as worse than they are, you are called a realist; and if you describe things exactly as they are, you are called a satirist.” – Quentin Crisp
A theme that has run through many of my blog posts so far is
the concept of eudaimonia. This New
Year, which not only highlights the annual rituals of goal setting and actively
plotting to become the best person you can be in the year to come but also is a
reminder of the birth of famed raconteur and master of wit, Quentin Crisp, seems to
me like the perfect time to discuss this concept in greater detail.
“If I have any talent at all, it is not for doing but for being.” – Quentin Crisp
Despite his humble self-description, Quentin
Crisp has been a hero to many, and in his vocation of being he was one of the strongest advocates of “living well” in
recent times. Living well (or “good spirit”, happiness, human flourishing,
etc.) is roughly what ancient Greek philosophers meant by eudaimonia. Aristotle’s definition in the Nicomachean Ethics of “living well and doing well” (Book I,
Chapter IV) is apt and fairly uncontroversial; but it is far from
self-explanatory. After all, “living well” can mean different things to
different people. For Aristotle, living well basically meant living a life of
excellence in reason (along with certain external goods necessary to keep this
virtuous activity going smoothly).
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.