1. Eudaimonia / εὐδαιμονία
*pronunciations are my own
εὐδαιμονία, transliterated as “eudaimonia“, is a concept which derives from our Greek ancestors. It means, a condition of human flourishing.
To flourish literally means “to flower” …to open up, to become, to thrive.
Side note: most linguists estimate 80% of our current words stem from Greco-Latin culture, this is important.
It means that most of the ideas we currently use are filtered through the lens of some half naked philosophers that wandered about southern Europe thousands of years ago.
This is no slight. Nor is it praise. Just a statement of fact.
These civilizations were at the cultural epicenter of the known world. They also produced a cornucopia of free thinkers, paired with an astounding canon of literature.
And so – its no surprise that something as layered, textured, and complex as recorded language was able to evolve meaningfully at this point in human history.
Despite the root words we share, many of todays translations have been watered down when compared to their Latin or Greek counterpart, due to weakened ideals posing as the real thing.
I referenced this yesterday, the linguists call this phenomenon “semantic drift”.
For example, eudaimonia’s direct translation is welfare.
Definitely not the same thing as “human flourishing”.
So lets shake things up a bit.
To be sure, Aristotle understood eudaimonia to mean something deeper than welfare.
“The highest degree of human good..”
I like this definition better.
Not so much a rule, but a principle which our actions either point toward or away from.
The thing I like about principles, is that they don’t change.
To arrive at the highest possible human good, means to acknowledge one’s ultimate purpose and to struggle well in lieu of attaining a worthy goal.
Sometimes, that will require sacrifice.
Sometimes, it won’t feel good in the moment.
We understand that humans cannot flourish when stuck inside a comfort zone.
Let’s begin to act like it.
See you tomorrow for our next word…
(here’s a clue)