Heroism and Eudaimonia: Sublime Actualization Through the Embodiment of Virtue

  • Zeno E. FrancoEmail author
  • Olivia Efthimiou
  • Philip G. Zimbardo
Part of the International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life book series (IHQL)


The philosophical roots of eudaimonia lie in “Aristotle’s view of the highest human good involving virtue and the realization of one’s potential … It begins with Aristotle’s emphasizing choice and suggesting that virtue, which is central to eudaimonia, involves making the right choices” (Deci and Ryan, J Happiness Stud 9(1):1–11, 2008, pp. 4, 7). Although the Aristotelian meaning of ‘virtue’ is somewhat contested (Keyes & Annas, 2009), its association with heroic action as an ideal state is immediate. Eudaimonic happiness “actively expresses excellency of character or virtue” (Haybron, 2000, p. 3). Heroism and heroes have been considered to be the pinnacle of human excellence and virtue in history. In his reading of Merleau-Ponty’s 1948 address of heroism, Smyth (2010, p. 178) notes that “the hero is someone who ‘lives to the limit … his relation to men and the world’”. Allison and Goethals (2014, p. 167) concur that, “The human tendency to bestow a timeless quality to heroic leadership is the culmination of a pervasive narrative about human greatness [emphasis added] that people have been driven to construct since the advent of language”. This peak state, and the idea of transcendence that is associated with it, go to the basis of the word ‘eudaimonia’, the ‘daemon’, i.e., being taken over by the ‘good spirit’ (Bošković and Šendula Jengić, 2008; Froh et al, 2009).


Happiness Well-being Eudaimonia Heros Heroism Virtues 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zeno E. Franco
    • 1
    Email author
  • Olivia Efthimiou
    • 2
  • Philip G. Zimbardo
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Family and Community MedicineClinical and Translational Science Institute, Medical College of WisconsinMilwaukeeUSA
  2. 2.Murdoch UniversityPerthAustralia
  3. 3.Stanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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