A psychologist and a functional medicine practitioner discuss happiness, eudaimonia, wellness, free will and more

  • This showed up in one of my feeds and could be fruitful for discussion:

    RHR: How to Achieve Happiness and Well-Being, with Kennon Sheldon
    In this episode of RHR, I talk with Kennon Sheldon about how to understand and cultivate happiness in order to improve our overall health, well-being, and…

    The link is to a podcast and comes with a full transcription, which is quite convenient.

    I'm not sure where to begin the discussion so I'll just post this and see where it goes :/

  • It appears to me from reading at least the early part of the doctors statement that he is pretty clearly in Aristotle's "good person" camp without entirely admitting it:


    Eudaimonia is a tricky term. It goes back to Aristotle. People debate it in lots of different ways. But to me, it just means trying to grow and connect to be a good person. And so that’s a very broad description that could apply to a lot of different things that we might do. And how do we tell if things are eudaimonic or not? Well, we’ve come to the strategy of it’s eudaimonic if it makes you happier. If it increases your subjective well-being. And the reason we say that is that [for] almost every eudaimonic-type activity that we measure when people do it, it increases their subjective well-being. But again, we don’t think that’s the main thing. It’s just a side effect. But it’s also a very important side effect because if you start doing something eudaimonic, like you’re going to express gratitude, or you’re going to try to be a kinder person, it’s awesome if that behavior can be reinforced by good feelings.

    He's trying to avoid what Aristotle eventually admits - that being a good person makes beging "good" the goal, and there is no objective meaning of "good,". It is my understanding that Aristotle is more honest and says in Nichomachean ethics that "good" can be defined only as looking to see what good men do, and so he ends up with a circular definition that answers nothing - except providing a means for an "elite" to justify their rule over the rest.

  • It's interesting to me because he is by his own description not a philosopher and is studying effective strategies. So I guess we could expect that some things would end up in one philosophical camp and some in another, and that's what he gets. Some statements sound Epicurean to me, others very anti-Epicurean. Probably there are a lot of preconceived ideas, perhaps Aristotelean, that he is unconsciously working with as well.