Hobbes on Felicity

Aristotle, Bacon and Eudaimonia

In: Hobbes Studies

Thomas Hobbes’s concept of felicity is a re-imagining of the Hellenistic concept of eudaimonia, which is based on the doctrine that people by nature are happy with little. His concept is based instead on an alternative view, that people by nature are never satisfied and it directly challenges the Aristotelian and Hellenistic concepts of eudaimonia. I also will suggest that Hobbes developed it from ideas he found in Aristotle’s Rhetoric as well as in Francis Bacon’s critique of ancient moral philosophy in The Advancement of Learning.

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    C. BrookePhilosophical Pride (Princeton: Princeton University Press2012) 73. I agree with Juhanna Lemetti that Hobbes does not have a unified notion of human nature in the classic sense. His early claims for the preeminence of the passion of glory sit uneasily with other elements of his theory of human behavior such as his Aristotelian notion of the virtuous person his description of the classical “great spirited” or magnanimous man and what Bernard Gert has accurately described as Hobbes’s account of the malleability of human nature. Perhaps this explains at least in part why his emphasis on glory disappears in Leviathan. My point is that we have to understand the early importance of glory to understand his orientation to eudaimonia. B. Gert Hobbes (Oxford: Polity Press 2010) 42; Lemetti “Metaphysics to Ethics” 151–52.

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