Philosophies of Happiness

A Comparative Introduction to the Flourishing Life

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Diana Lobel
  • New York, NY: 
    Columbia University Press
    , October
     2017.
     400 pages.
     $35.00.
     Paperback.
    ISBN
    9780231184113.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Peter Hampson forthcoming.

Description

What does it mean to be truly happy? In Philosophies of Happiness, Diana Lobel provides a rich spectrum of arguments for a theory of happiness as flourishing or well-being, offering a global, cross-cultural, and interdisciplinary perspective on how to create a vital, fulfilling, and significant life. Drawing upon perspectives from a broad range of philosophical traditions—Eastern and Western, ancient and contemporary—the book suggests that just as physical health is the well-being of the body, happiness is the healthy and flourishing condition of the whole human being, and we experience the most complete happiness when we realize our potential through creative engagement.

Lobel shows that while thick descriptions of happiness differ widely in texture and detail, certain themes resonate across texts from different traditions and historical contexts, suggesting core features of a happy life: attentive awareness; effortless action; relationship and connection to a larger, interconnected community; love or devotion; and creative engagement. Each feature adds meaning, significance, and value, so that we can craft lives of worth and purpose. These themes emerge from careful study of philosophical and religious texts and traditions: the Greek philosophers Aristotle and Epicurus; the Chinese traditions of Confucius, Laozi, and Zhuangzi; the Hindu Bhagavad Gītā; the Japanese Buddhist tradition of Soto Zen master Dōgen and his modern expositor Shunryu Suzuki; the Western religious traditions of Augustine and Maimonides; the Persian Sufi tale Conference of the Birds; and contemporary research on mindfulness and creativity. Written in a clear, accessible style, Philosophies of Happiness invites readers of all backgrounds to explore and engage with religious and philosophical conceptions of what makes life meaningful.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Diana Lobel is associate professor of religion at Boston University. She is the author of Between Mysticism and Philosophy: Sufi Language of Religious Experience in Judah Ha-Levi's Kuzari (2000), A Sufi-Jewish Dialogue: Philosophy and Mysticism in Bahya Ibn Paqūda’s Duties of the Heart (2006), and The Quest for God and the Good: World Philosophy as a Living Experience (Columbia, 2011).

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