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A Brief History of Happiness

A Brief History of Happiness

Nicholas P. White

ISBN: 978-1-119-28727-8

Feb 2016, Wiley-Blackwell

208 pages

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Description

In this brief history, philosopher Nicholas White reviews 2,500 years of philosophical thought about happiness.

  • Addresses key questions such as: What is happiness? Should happiness play such a dominant role in our lives? How can we deal with conflicts between the various things that make us happy?
  • Considers the ways in which major thinkers from antiquity to the modern day have treated happiness: from Plato’s notion of the harmony of the soul, through to Nietzsche’s championing of conflict over harmony.
  • Relates questions about happiness to ethics and to practical philosophy.

Preface vii

1 Introducing the Concept 1

2 Conflicts, Perspectives, and the Identification of Happiness 6

3 Pleasure, Hedonism, and the Measurement of Happiness 41

4 Happiness as Structure and Harmony 75

5 Morality, Happiness, and Conflict 116

6 Happiness, Fact, and Value 142

7 Doing without the Concept 162

Glossary and List of Historical Figures 175

Bibliography 181

Index 187

"White takes his readers on [a] journey, aiming to reach an appreciation of the nature of happiness. He splendidly suceeds in making the journey as fascinating as it deserves to be. White has produced a unique, thoughtful work that provides a meaningful excursion through our conceptions of happiness. Readers will be left with a gift of greater insight into both the triumphs and limitations of our efforts to understand ourselves." PsycCRITIQUES<!--end-->

"A valuable aid to the flourishing literature on happiness and its history."
Ethics

"Nicholas White offers a brisk, informative, and readable account of various attempts, throughout the Western philosophical tradition, to articulate the meaning of that elusive term 'happiness.'" Review of Metaphysics


  • A brief history of happiness, reviewing 2,500 years of philosophical thought about the concept.
  • Addresses key questions such as what happiness is and whether or not happiness should play such a dominant role in our lives.
  • Considers the ways in which major thinkers from Plato and Aristotle through to Nietzsche and Freud have treated happiness.
  • Relates questions about happiness to ethics and to practical philosophy.