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p. 363. The happy life, ancient and modernlocked

  • Julia Annas

Abstract

A familiar story in ancient philosophy is Prodicus's Choice of Heracles. ‘The happy life, ancient and modern’ looks at the philosophical discussions we can engage in, considering this story from a twenty-first century perspective. In this story, Virtue and Vice are offering Heracles differing roads to happiness. Prodicus was one of the first philosophers to make explicit that we are all aiming for happiness. How did the ancients view happiness? Does their definition differ from ours? Is there a faulty road to happiness, as in Prodicus's story? Our modern conception of happiness is frequently understood in terms of pleasure and desire-satisfaction, and this can make it hard to see the appeal of ancient theories of happiness.

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