Aristotle reminds us of what he’s already said on the subject (mostly in
Eudaimonia is an activity, not a disposition.
Eudaimonia is among those activities that are good in and of themselves, not those that are good for the sake of something else.
Two things that seem to meet this description are 1) virtuous actions,
and 2) recreational actions. Both are done for their own sake (remember
that Aristotle has said that the virtuous person does virtuous acts for the
love of acting virtuously, and not for any utilitarian results).
There’s a sort of vulgar understanding of “the good life” in which recreation
takes a big role (“Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous”). But Aristotle thinks
it’s a mistake to look to the decadent ruling class to figure out what the
ends of life are. If recreational amusement were the ultimate end of life, how
trivial life would be. Instead, look to the virtuous.
Recreation has its place, not as an end in and of itself, but as a way of
relaxing in preparation for, or to recover from, more noble activity. That is
to say that, truly understood, recreation isn’t an end to itself but is a
means to an end after all. A life of eudaimonia is a
virtuous one, which is more a matter of exertion than amusement, pleasurable
though it be.
The following excerpt, from the
edition of Catholic World, concerns a tax resistance
campaign in occupied Germany.
Violent disorders have marked the month in Germany. These have sprung from
two sources — internal economic discontent and outbursts of national
recent events in
Upper Silesia. A movement for a general refusal to pay taxes, originating
in Württemberg, spread rapidly to other towns, principally Stuttgart, which
was without gas, electricity and water for several days. The strike began in
the Daimler motor works in Württemberg, where the workers refused to allow
the deduction of the legal tax of ten per cent from their weekly wages,
because of dissatisfaction with the Württemberg government of Centrists and
Democrats, who are charged with endeavoring to institute the old capitalist
regime. Regardless of this purely Socialist argument, the masses of the
people throughout Germany protest that they have good ground for refusing the
ten per cent deduction to a Government which makes no effort to seize
excessive and often fraudulent war and revolution profits, does not punish
men compromised by the
Kapp rebellion, and which shows neither power nor ability to right
various injustices. The discontent of the people is finding expression in
disastrous strikes and lockouts. In the Siegerland mines near Cologne, and
also in Essen, the tax refusal has been the cause of violent disorder, and
several mine and factory officials have been severely wounded.
Despite these disorders, however, there is strong opposition, even among
Socialists, toward any alliance with the Bolsheviki. Recently in Berlin the
Federal Congress of Independent Socialists heard the report of its delegation
to the Communist Congress at Moscow, which was to the effect that Bolshevism
was impossible in Germany, and that even in Russia this form of government,
if government it could be called, has no future. The visiting delegation
seems to have been thoroughly disillusioned by its view of actual conditions
under Bolshevik rule, and its members delivered violent speeches of
denunciation of Sovietism, which one speaker declared to be more militaristic
and oppressive than the despotism of the Tsar.