Philosophies of Happiness

A Comparative Introduction to the Flourishing Life

Diana Lobel

Columbia University Press

Philosophies of Happiness

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Pub Date: November 2017

ISBN: 9780231184113

400 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $35.00£27.95

Pub Date: November 2017

ISBN: 9780231184106

400 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $105.00£87.95

Pub Date: November 2017

ISBN: 9780231545327

400 Pages

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List Price: $34.99£27.95

Philosophies of Happiness

A Comparative Introduction to the Flourishing Life

Diana Lobel

Columbia University Press

What does it mean to be truly happy? In Philosophies of Happiness, Diana Lobel provides a rich spectrum of arguments for a theory of happiness as flourishing or well-being, offering a global, cross-cultural, and interdisciplinary perspective on how to create a vital, fulfilling, and significant life. Drawing upon perspectives from a broad range of philosophical traditions—Eastern and Western, ancient and contemporary—the book suggests that just as physical health is the well-being of the body, happiness is the healthy and flourishing condition of the whole human being, and we experience the most complete happiness when we realize our potential through creative engagement.

Lobel shows that while thick descriptions of happiness differ widely in texture and detail, certain themes resonate across texts from different traditions and historical contexts, suggesting core features of a happy life: attentive awareness; effortless action; relationship and connection to a larger, interconnected community; love or devotion; and creative engagement. Each feature adds meaning, significance, and value, so that we can craft lives of worth and purpose. These themes emerge from careful study of philosophical and religious texts and traditions: the Greek philosophers Aristotle and Epicurus; the Chinese traditions of Confucius, Laozi, and Zhuangzi; the Hindu Bhagavad Gītā; the Japanese Buddhist tradition of Soto Zen master Dōgen and his modern expositor Shunryu Suzuki; the Western religious traditions of Augustine and Maimonides; the Persian Sufi tale Conference of the Birds; and contemporary research on mindfulness and creativity. Written in a clear, accessible style, Philosophies of Happiness invites readers of all backgrounds to explore and engage with religious and philosophical conceptions of what makes life meaningful.
An impressive comparative study of conceptions of happiness found in East Asian, South Asian, and Western traditions of thought that will be read with interest by a wide range of scholars in religious studies, philosophy, and psychology. Philip J. Ivanhoe, City University of Hong Kong
I know of no other work that engages so many traditions comparatively; this work stands to make a significant contribution to our understanding of happiness across different religious and philosophical traditions. Erin M. Cline, Georgetown University
Diana Lobel's Philosophies of Happiness: A Comparative Introduction to the Flourishing Life is a long-awaited contribution to comparative philosophy and religion. In considering how happiness has been conceived in different cultures, she investigates traditions from Aristotle, Augustine, and Maimonides to Confucianism, Daoism, the Bhagavad Gītā, and Japanese Zen Buddhism. This book is a major contribution to the emerging fields of world philosophy and global ethics. Ithamar Theodor, author of Exploring the Bhagavad Gītā: Philosophy, Structure, and Meaning
Informative, innovative, and timely, Diana Lobel’s Philosophies of Happiness engagingly examines a broad range of perspectives—encompassing the ancient Greeks, key Asian traditions, and central figures in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam—to conclude with more contemporary approaches such as mindfulness. On Lobel’s model, “the first building block of a life of happiness is attentive awareness.” This keen insight underlies not only her approach to flourishing but also the very spirit of this outstanding book. John D. Dunne, University of Wisconsin–Madison, author of Foundations of Dharmakīrti’s Philosophy
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Aristotle: The Life of Engaged Activity
2. Epicurus: Happiness Is Pleasure
3. Confucian Happiness: Ritual, Humaneness, Music, and Joy
4. Daoism: Attentive Awareness and Effortless Ease of Action (Wu-Wei)
5. The Bhagavad Gītā: Non-attached Action and the Universal Spirit
6. St. Augustine: The Happy Life of the Soul
7. Maimonides: The Joy of Learning, Prayer, and Devotion
8. The Sufi Path of Love in ʿAṭṭār’s Conference of the Birds
9. Mindfulness, East and West
10. Dōgen’s Sōtō Zen and Shunryu Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginners Mind
11. Creative Engagement and the Art of Living
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index

About the Author

Diana Lobel is associate professor of religion at Boston University. She is the author of Between Mysticism and Philosophy: Sufi Language of Religious Experience in Judah Ha-Levi's Kuzari (2000), A Sufi-Jewish Dialogue: Philosophy and Mysticism in Bahya Ibn Paqūda’s Duties of the Heart (2006), and The Quest for God and the Good: World Philosophy as a Living Experience (Columbia, 2011).