11 April 2024

Analysing The Concept Of Eudaimonia

Khurana and Khurana


K&K is among leading IP and Commercial Law Practices in India with rankings and recommendations from Legal500, IAM, Chambers & Partners, AsiaIP, Acquisition-INTL, Corp-INTL, and Managing IP. K&K represents numerous entities through its 9 offices across India and over 160 professionals for varied IP, Corporate, Commercial, and Media/Entertainment Matters.
The paper also attempts to comparatively analyse Aristotle's Eudaimonia concepts with the ancient Indian texts written by the Sage Manu.
India Law Department Performance
To print this article, all you need is to be registered or login on



Wherever one looks at any portrait of Shri Krishna – one common thing that one can find is his smiling face. His smiling face always gives his devotees a lesson to remain complacent and happy. However, the question is that how one can achieve happiness. According to Aristotle, happiness (Eudaimonia) is one of the crucial goals of human life. Thus, in regards to the same, he defines Eudaimonia and the ways to achieve it. Thus, this paper is an endeavour to elucidate the concept of Eudaimonia (which further got divided into two parts – Individual Eudaimonia and Political Eudaimonia) propounded by Aristotle.

The paper also attempts to comparatively analyse Aristotle's Eudaimonia concepts with the ancient Indian texts written by the Sage Manu. Manu defined virtues and happiness and ways to reach the same. The ideas put forth by Aristotle in his book – The Politics, resound the ancient ideas of Indian texts mentioned in Bhagavad Gita and by Sage Manu. Towards the end, the paper provides an insightful conclusion mentioning the opinion of the author regarding Eudaimonia.

Keywords: Eudaimonia, Happiness, Aristotle, The Politics, Indian Philosophy, Sage Manu

Chapter I: Introduction

People of all classes enjoy supreme and boundless happiness ( parama pärimitä sukha) when they follow the laws specific to them.

– Sage Manu, Âpastamba Dharmasütra

The nine letters word – happiness might seem small and easy to read but the value that it holds in the day-to-day life of an individual is beyond imagination. In the Oldest religion on this planet – Hinduism it is commonly referred to as 'Ananda'. The ancient philosophical literature of Shri Bhagavad Gita states about three types of happiness viz.

The definition of Happiness has always remained an uphill task for individuals to define. For instance, for a law student, happiness might be getting his manuscripts published in renowned international journals, while for professors, happiness is likely to be the betterment of the students taught by them either in materialistic life or spiritual life. However, for the poor, the happiness would be good food, clothes, and shelter, while for an ascetic (in dire need of food or suffering from pangs of hunger), the same would be meeting with Almighty. Thus, such instances clearly denote that there is not a straightforward formula to answer what is happiness. As a result, Aristotle take his uphill task seriously and endeavoured to determine the definition of 'happiness' (Eudaimonia).

Aristotle4 comes up with a concept of Happiness (Eudaimonia) in his books 'The Politics' and 'The Nicomachean Ethics'. He, first of all, in his books stresses that there is a diversity of opinions to determine the question of happiness, thereby to progress in ethics, this disagreement must be resolved by a concrete definition. Thus, he set himself as the primary person to end the disagreement by searching for the definition of good in his books. The paper is an endeavour to elucidate the same concept by comparatively analysing it with Indian philosophy.

Chapter II: Literature Review

As mentioned, one course of action might be right for an individual, while one course of action might be wrong for an individual. It is why Aristotle came up with the definition of Eudaimonia as 'an activity of the soul in accordance with the best and most complete excellence.' (Nicomachean Ethics, Book II, Chap. III [1140b]) Aristotle thought that the ultimate aim of human life is to achieve happiness. By keeping good character, an individual can lead a happy life. So, morality is necessary to have a happy life – a life of self-fulfilment. A happy life can be achieved by cultivating two virtues viz., intellectual virtue and moral virtues. To have some idea about intellectual virtue, we will read his work on Politics, and to understand moral virtue, we will read his Nicomachean Ethics. Both virtues can be developed only by practice or habit. Moral virtues are a golden mean between two extremes viz., deficit and extreme.

There are two types of virtues viz. Individual Virtues (Individual Eudaimonia) and State Virtues (State Eudaimonia). For Virtuous State, he says:

[A]ny polis which is truly so called, and is not merely one in name, must devote itself to the end of encouraging goodness. Otherwise, a political association sinks into a mere alliance . . . Otherwise, too, law becomes a mere covenant . . . "a guarantor of men's rights against one another"—instead of being, as it should be, a rule of life such as will make the members of a polis good and just. (The Politics, Book III, Chap. IX [1280b])

Further, for individuals who not participate in the polis, he states:

"The man who is isolated—who is unable to share in the benefits of political association, or has no need to share because he is already self-sufficient—is no part of the polis, and must therefore be either a beast or a god." (The Politics, Book I, Chap. II [1253a])

Philosophers and Thinkers who analyse the works of Aristotle feel that there is some nexus between Political and Individual Eudaimonia (Mulgan), while others feel vice versa on the same. (Julia Ann)

Aristotle prefers 'golden path' – mean path between two extremes to be practiced to attain moral virtue in a similar way the Gita mentions that the lord [Shri Krishna] loves those who neither rejoices in mundane pleasures nor despair in worldly sorrows, who neither lament for any loss nor hanker for any gain, who renounce both good and evil deeds, such persons who are full of devotion. (Bhagavad Gita Chapter 12 Verse 17) This can only be achieved by following the mean path.

Even the Sage Manu, at various instances in his literary works, mentions the same practices one shall follow to achieve happiness (in the form of social order, fame, prestige). (Ariel Glucklich 2011).


1 Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 18, Verse 36, Bhagavad Gita The Song of God, available at: (accessed on July 19, 2021).

2 Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 18, Verse 37, Bhagavad Gita The Song of God, available at: (accessed on July 19, 2021).

3 Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 18, Verse 38, Bhagavad Gita The Song of God, available at: (accessed on July 19, 2021).

4 There is likely to be a question – Who is Aristotle? And the answer mostly provided is 'A Philosopher.' However, the paper voyages through the background of Aristotle as it plays a crucial role in showcasing his motive behind the definition of Happiness or Eudaimonia.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

See More Popular Content From

Mondaq uses cookies on this website. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies as set out in our Privacy Policy.

Learn More