Socrates was Right

THE Greek founders of philosophy constantly debated how best to live the good life. Some contended that personal pleasure is the key. Others pointed out that serving society and finding purpose is vital. Socrates was in the latter camp, fiercely arguing that an unvirtuous person could not be happy, and that a virtuous person could not fail to be happy. These days, psychologists tend to regard that point as moot, since self-serving “hedonic” pleasures generate the same sorts of good feelings as those generated by serving some greater “eudaimonic” purpose. However, a study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, by Barbara Fredrickson, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and her colleagues suggests Socrates had a point. Though both hedonic and eudaimonic behaviour bring pleasure, the eudaimonic sort also brings health.

via Psychosomatic medicine: The right kind of happy | The Economist.


  1. When I have put myself in the service of others, for example, playing music in a band that performs at public events, memorials, graduations, parades, etc., there is a deeply felt joy that comes from seeing and hearing people enjoy our music.

    1. This is the way I feel when I am working with youth, talking to them about Socrates and the Good. I see how they begin to open up. They want to think about these things. They are grateful that somebody wants to engage with them, and then I see them do the same with their fellows. I also see this when I organize events that bring together people and musicians. I don’t understand why folks don’t see how the greatest pleasure is the one that brings about the flourishing of folks around them.

      Keep playing the music!

      1. Thanks Keith! We need more people like you who can and will work with youth, exposing them to meaningful ideas. I highly respect that you taken on that challenge.

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