Eudaimonia

In Plato’s Symposium, Socrates discusses the nature of love. In his speech he claims that he sought the wisdom of Diotima of Mantinea for her knowledge of the subject, and he goes on to relay her explanation of love as a desire for immortality, for it is through procreation that a part of ourselves will remain living when we pass away.

I think it is the same with creative work. The work of an artist is a part of him, and by bringing it into the world he actualizes a little of his self beyond his physical body. The greater and more lasting the work, the longer the years that a part of the self will remain in the world after the body passes away. This is why people oftentimes call the projects they spend most time on their “babies”.

As Aristotle wrote, it’s not life that people love, but living. Doing reveals in actuality what is only potentially. The Ancient Greeks had a term called the daimon, which is basically your inner spirit of your passions and potential. Living in sync with the daimon is called eudaimonia, which essentially translates to happiness.

My take on eudaimonia is that it’s a product of a creative life. Your self, your daimon, is actualized without you through your work and your creations. The more true and honest these creations, the more the daimon takes form. From this, the path you should take emerges, for whatever supports the daimon is the direction to turn to, and whatever harms it should be shunned.

Published November 2011