The Conditions and Constituents of Well-being: Overlapping Values

  • Annie AustinEmail author
Part of the Wellbeing in Politics and Policy book series (WPP)


The question of what it means to live a good life is an ancient one. During the same historical era as the ancient Greeks were working on Socrates’ question of what makes a good life, thinkers in other parts of the world were also asking the same thing; for example, Confucius in China, and the Vedic philosophers in India. The Socratic question has continued to occupy the minds of thinkers throughout the ages, and has become an increasingly important part of modern politics and policy. This chapter shows the areas of overlap among accounts of well-being across the ages. First, the parallels between ancient Greek, Confucian, and Hindu ethical frameworks of the good life are discussed. Next, a selection of modern political philosophies of the good are mined for candidate universals. The chapter shows that thinkers across time, geography, tradition and culture have found reason to value certain aspects of human life. These aspects are Social relationships, Work, Leisure, Education, Health (physical and psychological), Aesthetic experience, and Integrity (also known as “Authentic self-direction”). These more detailed accounts add content to the three basic values identified in Chapter  2: Happiness (from Hedonism); Freedom (from Liberalism); and Sociality (from Aristotelianism).


Well-being Integrity Happiness 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ManchesterManchesterUK

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