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Eudaimonia and ‘Species Being’: A Marxist Perspective

Part of the International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life book series (IHQL)

Abstract

This chapter connects the concept of eudaimonia with Karl Marx’s concept of ‘species being’. It contends that whereas, for Aristotle, eudaimonia represented the natural purpose of a privileged minority of humanity; for Marx, it represented the historical and developmental purpose of an entire species, radically characterised by its specific forms of consciousness, work and sociality. The chapter additionally considers how in the light of subsequent historical events, Hannah Arendt saw eudaimonia in terms of what it means for a human being to live well in common with others. Seizing on the idea that in the contemporary era social policy and social development are, or ought to be, concerned not only with living well, but living better, the chapter seeks to build upon Marx’s particular concept of species being as the basis for a life-first ethic: an ethic that seeks consensually to define and prioritise human fulfilment and the essential meaning of social welfare and human well-being.

Keywords

  • Human fulfilment
  • Well-being
  • Eudaimonia
  • Marx
  • Species being
  • Life-first ethic
  • Welfare
  • Social policy

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Notes

  1. 1.

    My treatment here of Aristotle will be brief and thinly referenced, since his work is extensively discussed elsewhere in this volume.

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Dean, H. (2016). Eudaimonia and ‘Species Being’: A Marxist Perspective. In: Vittersø, J. (eds) Handbook of Eudaimonic Well-Being. International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-42445-3_34

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-42445-3_34

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