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Happiness and Transcendent Happiness

  • Stephen Theron (a1)


In this paper I first point out that happiness might of its nature be unamenable to the calculating ‘plan of life’ approach, and argue that the incompatible model of a personal search, by no means implying ‘ontological subjectivity’ though, fits in more smoothly with the idea. Secondly, I discuss the arguments assembled by Aquinas for a view of this type. I argue thirdly that although we can show there is some one thing in which all happiness consists, whatever it may be it must be incompatible with temporal life, whether or not any other is possible. Hence a discussion which excludes ‘transcendence’ will not get to grips with the concept of happiness.



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page 349 note 1 Uyl, Douglas den and Machan, Tibor R., ‘Recent work on the concept of happiness’, American Philosophical Quarterly (04 1983).

page 349 note 2 Benditt, Theodore, ‘Happiness’, Philosophical Studies XXV (1974), 120.

page 349 note 3 e.g. Kekes, , ‘Happiness’, Mind XCI (1982).

page 349 note 4 Anscombe, G. E. M., ‘Modern moral philosophy’, Philosophy (1958).

page 352 note 1 Hare, R. M., Freedom and Reason (Oxford, 1963), p. 147.

page 352 note 2 Cf. Geach, P. T., The Virtues (Cambridge, 1977), pp. 5556.

page 354 note 1 St Thomas Aquinas, Comm. in Sent. P. Lombardi, bk. 4, d. 33, q.1, a. 1 c.

page 354 note 2 Cf. Geach, P. T., ‘History of a fallacy’, in Logic Matters (Oxford, 1972).

page 354 note 3 Aristotle, Nicomachaean Ethics, 1094a 18 (Ross translation).

page 354 note 4 Anscombe, G. E. M., Introduction to Wittgenstein's Tractatus, Home University Library (1971), p. 16.

page 355 note 1 Kenny, A., The Anatomy of the Soul (Oxford, 1973), p. 52.

page 355 note 2 Ibid. p. 53.

page 355 note 3 But against this tendency cf. especially Ross's, James F. review of Kenny's The God of the Philosophers in The Journal of Philosophy (1982), p. 410; also Geach's, review of his The Five Ways in The Philosophical Quarterly, (1970), p. 311. See also Theron, , ‘Esse’, The Nero Scholasticism (spring, 1979).

page 356 note 1 Physics, viii, 5.

page 357 note 1 Cf. Geach, P. T., The Virtues, pp. 139–40.

page 357 note 2 Augustine, St, The City of God, XIX. 1 (Pelican translation p. 843).

page 358 note 1 B. Russell, The Conquest of Happiness.

page 361 note 1 Grisez, G. G., ‘The first principle of practical reason’, in Aquinas, ed. Kenny, , London 1969.

page 363 note 1 In Three Philosophers.


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