A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Word of the Day:Eudæmonology

The subject of Arthur Schopenhauer's Essays is, in his words, the wisdom of life. This he defines as the art of ordering our lives so as to obtain the greatest possible amount of pleasure and success. The theory of this art he calls eudæmonology. Eudæmonology, he says, teaches us how to lead a happy existence.

I'm all for that, so I find myself reading the essays of Schopenhauer with great interest. Unfortunately, my knowledge of German is limited to words and phrases useful in the cataloging of books, so I'm reduced to reading him in translation. Worse, I have one of those early-twentieth-century editions that doesn't even bother to record the name of the translator. But that's not enough to dissuade me.

Schopenhauer begins with the Aristotelian division of the blessings of life into three categories: what a man is, what a man has, and how a man is viewed by others. The latter two he promptly dispenses with as being minor and mutable. If a man is by nature cheerful, he feels, he will make the best of what little he has; whereas, if he is by nature melancholy or a "dull blockhead," he will never be happy no matter how much he possesses or how famous he becomes.

I personally could be happy watching a caterpillar cross the road for three hours. Maybe that makes me a "dull blockhead"...but I prefer to think that I have a rich inner life, an extremely sensitive nature, and the ability to wring the last drop of sweetness from life. A veritable "A" student of eudæmonology, although until just this week I never knew it.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Christopher said...

If you're going to write posts discussing dead philosophers, then the principal of Pragmatism Refreshed is going to have to ... oh, I don't know ... discuss his life?

9:37 AM  
Blogger Cicily Corbett said...

well, why not, for heaven's sake? if only to illuminate the dead philosophy.

9:58 AM  
Anonymous Christopher said...

Hey, my Friday post actually identified my college by name and city! And three college-era friends of mine by (first) name.

Baby steps, you might say.

10:21 AM  

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