The Key to “Eudaimonia”

For instance, there are many people who decide not to attend college or take a year off and travel as an alternative.  These people may not be participating in academic activity but they still have the opportunity to learn.  Oftentimes, people who go this route embark on adventure and really get to explore the world around them.  They trade the teachings of mathematics and sciences for the involvement in communities or even time to truly soul search.  Instead of classroom experience, they gain life experience by trying new things and just being out and about in the real world.  With this being said, the argument can be made that someone can be just as happy, if not happier, without an extensive academic background.

This point of view is surely not meant to discredit the academically gifted and certainly not those who currently attend any sort of academic institution.  The goal is rather to shine light on the fact that virtuosity and happiness cannot rely more heavily on academic ability because not everyone in the world is guaranteed to be academically successful.  Everyone is wired differently and some people take more towards arts or other involvements outside of academics such as music, dance, crafts, etc.  If these skills are matched with good moral character then these people could be destined to be much happier than those who spends countless years in undergraduate and graduate school only to realize that they spent so much time trying to obtain a degree that they cannot utilize once they graduate.

Once again, the point of this post is not to condemn academics in any matter.  Instead, it is meant to serve as an example of an alternative means of achieving eudaimonia.  It is possible for anyone to achieve it, whether scholarly adequate or borderline illiterate.  The key to happiness relies on how content the person is with themselves and their surroundings, not just how much they know academically.

2 responses to “The Key to “Eudaimonia”

  1. First, I think that post was really well-written and nicely structured. I completly agree with you that taking some time off school to embark on other opportunities, like traveling, can be just as- if not more beneficial to ones knowledge and over all happiness and well-being.

    Personally, I took a 6 months off of college to take advantage of an internship opportunity, in which I traveled the world. Most notably, Guadalajara Mexico. Where I saw first-hand the harsh reality of real poverty. I also learned what makes these people happy. And it was the simple things… being together, and celebrating. There was a celebration everyday, whether it was someones birthday, high school graduation, a soccer win, or just because. I think Americans, including myself, sometimes takes the simple things for granted.

    With that being said, I would not have had this internship opportunity if I did not qualify, academically. So in my circumstance, I guess my happiness and newfound knowledge abroad was because of my past academic performance. In a way academics and eudaimonia go hand in hand.

  2. I think that both your argument and Taylor’s response are both great interpretations of the connection between education, eudaimonia, and virtues. However, as I was reading your response and reflecting back on the text, I did not get the same impression that Socrates wholeheartedly believes eudaimonia and virtues directly correlate with academic ability and wisdom.

    Looking at the most recent section of Republic we will be talking about on Friday, Socrates directly states, “…virtues of the soul are akin to those of the body, for they aren’t there before hand but are added later by habit and practice” (page 190 518e). I think what Socrates is getting at in this particular section is that people do not come preprogrammed with virtues, but rather learn them through trial and error in addition to experience. And I further propose this statement encompasses both academic experience as well as nonacademic skills. Overall, I believe Socrates does not link virtues with academic experience or prowess, but I do agree with your argument that for eudaimonia people should also have experience outside the classroom.

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