Eudaimonia is actualized by intrinsically motivated work : using Aristotle and Montessori to develop a new account of eudaimonia
John D. Eiford
April 18, 2017
Department or Program
This paper develops a new account of eudaimonia, i.e. the highest good for human beings. To develop this account, I draw extensively on the accounts of eudaimonia offered by Aristotle and alternative educator Maria Montessori. I argue that eudaimonia is the only end desired for its own sake, and that this intrinsically desired end is actualized by intrinsically motivated work. I define intrinsically motivated work as effortful engagement in activity for the sake of itself, and I use Aristotle and Montessori to show that individual instances of this work constitute eudaimonia as a whole. Further, I claim that only a certain kind of intrinsically motivated work actualizes eudaimonia: this work must be excellent in a progressive sense, rational, respectful of others and their ability to actualize eudaimonia, and promote human culture. In addition to intrinsically motivated work, I argue that integrated extrinsically motivated work can actualize eudaimonia when this work is situated in the context of larger-scale intrinsically motivated work. In order to integrate extrinsically motivated work, I claim that one must reflectively endorse their actions at the highest level of reflection that is possible given their stage of development. I conclude by suggesting that this account of eudaimonia has profound implications for the way we educate, work, and live in contemporary industrialized society.