A comparison of ancient and modern conceptions of happiness and leisure
In an intriguing overview of research related to leisure, enjoyment, and the good life, Estes and Henderson posed a provocative question: “What do people need to know to pursue the good life, and what roles do leisure service providers have in maximizing people’s enjoyment?”. In their response they paid homage to classical Greek philosophy on eudaimonia (happiness), aretē (virtue), and scholē (leisure), implying that it is a seminal source in a historical progression leading from antiquity to the modern idea of happiness and leisure.
Although separated by 2,500 years, the ancient and the modern conceptions of happiness and leisure are thus supposedly close relatives. Yet they are conceptually, ethically, socially, and politically as different as night and day. Therefore, the purpose of this analysis was to compare the ancient and the modern conceptions of happiness and leisure, explaining their differences and exploring their implications for contemporary theory and practice.
Paper given at The Eleventh Canadian Congress on Leisure Research, Malaspina University-College (2005)