Monday, February 14, 2005

Psychologist cribs from Aristotle, makes money

On the way back from my morning run, I heard a cute story on NPR's Morning Edition about psychologists measuring happiness using Palm Pilots.

One of the psychologists interviewed, Dr. Martin Seligman, offered a definition of happiness that sounded awfully familiar to me. He said something like, the key to happiness is to identify your signature strengths and virtues and use them in your life.

Is it me? Or isn't that just a reworking of this:

to anthropinon agathon psyches energeia gignetai kat' areten, ei de pleious hai aretai, kata ten aristen kai teleiotaten.

"the good for humans is the soul's activity in accordance with virtue or excellence, and if there's more than one of these, in accordance with the best and most perfect of them." -- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1.7.15

Dr. Seligman has a website, where he does actually mention Aristotle, and you can pay money to learn how to be happy.

Or not. Why not just read Aristotle's Ethics? It's a lot cheaper, and it has a proven track record.

P.S. Can Seligman really be this man's name? Because in German it means "happy man."

1 comment:

Vitae Scrutator said...

It also means "dead man."

But Aristotle also quotes Solon to the effect that we should count no man happy until he's dead, so maybe it comes to the same thing.