From Happiness to Blessedness: Husserl on Eudaimonia, Virtue, and the Best Life

HORIZON. Studies in Phenomenology 8 (2):353-388 (2019)
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This paper treats of Husserl’s phenomenology of happiness or eudaimonia in five parts. In the first part, we argue that phenomenology of happiness is an important albeit relatively neglected area of research, and we show that Husserl engages in it. In the second part, we examine the relationship between phenomenological ethics and virtue ethics. In the third part, we identify and clarify essential aspects of Husserl’s phenomenology of happiness, namely, the nature of the question concerning happiness and the possibility of a phenomenological answer, the power of the will, the role of vocation, the place of obligation, the significance of habituation, the necessity of selfreflection and self-criticism, the importance of sociability and solidarity, the impact of chance and destiny, and the specter of regret. In the fourth part, we establish the inextricable linkage between Husserl’s metaethics and his metaphysics. In the fi ft h part, we provide a provisional exploration of his conception of the connection between happiness and blessedness. We acknowledge that there is an extensive literature on Husserl’s phenomenological ethics, and our study has benefitted greatly from it, but we also suggest that our holistic approach critically clarifies his description of happiness, virtue, and blessedness by fully recognizing that his phenomenological metaethics is embedded in his phenomenological metaphysics.

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