Graduation Year


Date of Thesis Acceptance

Spring 4-18-2017

Major Department or Program



Patrick Frierson


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.

Page Count


Subject Headings

Aristotle -- Eudaimonia, Aristotle -- Nicomachean ethics -- Eudaimonia, Maria Montessori (1870-1952), Intrinsic motivation, Motivation (Psychology), Industrial society, Education -- Children, Whitman College -- Dissertation collection 2017 -- Philosophy Department

Permanent URL

Document Type

Public Accessible Thesis

Included in

Philosophy Commons



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