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 Gita; the Japanese Buddhist tradition of Soto Zen master Dogen 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.
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 Ba?ya Ibn Paquda's "Duties of the Heart" (2006), and The Quest for God and the Good: World Philosophy as a Living Experience (Columbia, 2011).
Acknowledgments Introduction 1. Aristotle: The Life of Engaged Activity 2. Epicurus: Happiness Is Pleasure 3. Confucian Happiness: Ritual, Humaneness, Music, and Joy 4. Daoism: Attentive Awareness and Effortless Ease of Action (Wu-Wei) 5. The Bhagavad Gita: Non-attached Action and the Universal Spirit 6. St. Augustine: The Happy Life of the Soul 7. Maimonides: The Joy of Learning, Prayer, and Devotion 8. The Sufi Path of Love in 'Attar's Conference of the Birds 9. Mindfulness, East and West 10. Dogen's Soto Zen and Shunryu Suzuki's Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind 11. Creative Engagement and the Art of Living Conclusion Notes Bibliography Index