THE IDEA OF HAPPINESS by V. J. McGill

THE IDEA OF HAPPINESS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Philosophers usually look at the concept of happiness out of the corner of their eyes, a little wary of the blue bird, or else engulf it in a system-bound net where it sings no more. For Plato, it was a sort of misty entity, hardly recognizable as an Ideal Form. Kantians made it a fleshless possibility, pinned with a priori laws in the rationalist mode. Only Aristotelian eudaemonism really grasps its importance in the affairs of man. Professor McGill is a good Aristotelian. ""We adopt Aristotelianism as our framework because it is the most complete and elaborate theory, because it askes the most questions, considers the most alternatives..."" And he has written a fine survey of the controversies over and descriptions of happiness from the Greeks to the present day, a judicious and scholarly undertaking, both generally accessible to the literate reader and sophisticated enough not to bore the initiated. Central to the study are the Nicomachean Ethics and the Summa Theologica--the first for defining happiness as an earthy, social-minded activity reaping the just man's rewards, the second for making it a state of the soul, sanctity in an imperfect world. Thus civic and transcendent values were set in motion, carrying various travelers: the hedonist, mystic, utilitarian, romanticist, and contemporary psychologist; and all their conflicting claims are quite scrupulously attended to here.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1967
Publisher: Praeger