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Studia Neoaristotelica

Volume 16, Issue 1, 2019

Vlastimil Vohánka
Pages 5-47

Love or Contemplation?
Hildebrandian and Aristotelian Ways to High Happiness

This is an article in the philosophy of happiness — but one with an untypical focus. It clarifies the claim of the phenomenologist Dietrich von Hildebrand that (H) high happiness comes especially from loving others, and compares it with the apparently rival Aristotelian claim that (A) high happiness comes especially from contemplating God. The former claim is understood to be about felt love (love defined as an emotional rather than volitional state). Both claims are understood to be about felt happiness (happiness defined as an emotional state rather than a state of objective flourishing). The article argues that, in fact, the two claims are not rival but mutually consistent, since the beloved person can be God, and the contemplation can be a loving one. Both claims are also consistent with scientific evidence, although it is tangential and tentative. Moreover, both claims are plausible, since both are backed up by intuitive explanations of why they should be regarded as true. However, both are in need of a further philosophical or scientific research that could confirm them even more.

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