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This is the first week in our One Year, Six Ways challenge, in which we try to experience six different philosophies of life in our own, everyday lives. And we begin with Aristotle, one of the fathers of Western philosophy.

So how can we utilise Aristotle’s theories about happiness in our own, everyday lives? Read on.

Can I be too honest?

Aristotle’s view of life starts with the concept of virtues. Virtues are good properties of one’s character that are beneficial to oneself and to others. Think, for instance, of courage, honesty, or kindness.

But not any amount of these virtues is good. One can…


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Source: Unsplash

In his book “The Conquest of Happiness”, Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) presents a theory of happiness that is broadly Aristotelian. Russell thinks that what makes us happy is an active life, directed by a deep and sustained interest in the world. What makes us unhappy is the undue fixation on our own person and our everyday problems.

In the previous two posts ( one, two), we talked about Bertrand Russell and his theory of what makes us unhappy: competition, anxiety, envy and the fear of the opinion of others are just a few common factors that contribute to an unhappy life.


Bertrand Russell on what makes us unhappy (2)

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In the first part of this post, we talked about what are, for Bertrand Russell ( The Conquest of Happiness, 1930) some of the reasons people are unhappy: fashionable pessimism, competition, boredom, and fatigue that comes from anxiety. In this second part, we will examine four more factors that contribute to unhappiness: envy, the sense of sin, persecution mania and the fear of public opinion.

Unhappiness from envy

“Of all the characteristics of ordinary human nature,” Russell writes, “envy is the most unfortunate; not only does the envious person wish to inflict misfortune and do so whenever he can with impunity, but he…


Bertrand Russell on what makes us unhappy (Part 1)

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Source: Unsplash

Bertrand Russell’s book ‘The Conquest of Happiness’ (1930) attempts to analyse the conditions for happiness in our modern world, focusing on the mindsets of the unhappy and the happy person and how they differ. For Russell, the unhappy person is preoccupied far too much with their own life and career, and with how they present themselves to others; while happy people engage with life and with intellectual pursuits that are not related directly to themselves, displaying a quality of character he calls “zest” for life.

“My purpose is to suggest a cure for the ordinary day-to-day unhappiness from which most…


Not all who wander are lost

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Aristotle (384–322 BC), born in Stageira, Greece, is one of the most influential philosophers who ever lived. He worked not only in philosophy, but also wrote dozens of books on all topics, from astronomy and biology to literary theory. In philosophy, he is most known for his contributions to logic, metaphysics and ethics.

Every human life is a collection of experiences, moments, images. A product of the books, stories, places and people that shaped the person. And the work can never be separated from the man as neatly as some histories of philosophy pretend. …


From unhappy boy to philosopher of happiness

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Source: Wikipedia

It is always amazing to see how the biographies of great men determine much of what would become their world-views and, in the case of philosophers, their life’s work. Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) is no exception.

Bertrand Russell was born into a family as aristocratic as they come. His godfather was one of the founders of utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill. The Russells have been involved in the highest ranks of British society for centuries before Bertrand was born. His grandfather had been a prime minister. At the end of his first marriage, he had an affair with Lady Ottoline Morrell, famous…


Looking back and looking forward

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Dear friends of Daily Philosophy!

I’m happy and excited today that we are finishing our first month of living an ancient philosophy of life and happiness. For thirty days, we tried to make sense of Aristotle’s ethics and we tried to give it meaning in our everyday lives in the 21st century. I’d like to know whether you think that we succeeded: me, in making Aristotle interesting to you, and you, in actually trying to see what you can take away from his ideas for your own life. Leave a comment, if you can, or just reply to this email…


Aristotle and the frustration of meaningless work

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Welcome back to another instalment in our series on Aristotle and how to apply his philosophy to our everyday lives! As the first month of our challenge is coming to an end, so is our engagement with Aristotle himself and his philosophy. From next week on, we will talk about two other, modern philosophers, who were influenced by Aristotle’s thoughts but who also each had their own, interesting spin on the question of how to live a happy and worthwhile life: Bertrand Russell and Richard Taylor.

Today, this being the mid-week post, we want to have a last look at…


Aristotle on cherishing adversity

“If activities are,” Aristotle says in the Nicomachean Ethics, “what gives life its character, no happy man can become miserable; for he will never do the acts that are hateful and mean.”

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Photo by Gabriele Diwald on Unsplash

Welcome back to our year-long experiment of living the great theories of happiness in our everyday lives. Today, we look at how the wise person should approach the hardships and setbacks that are part of every life. Don’t forget to subscribe, if you have not yet done so. If you enjoy this series, please tell others who might be interested!

Does happiness just happen?

Let’s look again at this quote from Aristotle’s…

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