On the Length of a Good Life
Emilsson (Eyjolfur K.)
Source: Luper - The Cambridge Companion to Life and Death, 2014, Chapter 7
Paper - Abstract

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Editor’s Introduction1

  1. In Chapter 7 Eyjolfur Emilsson discusses the view that a good life is not made better by lasting longer. While this idea is no longer taken very seriously, it was defended by Stoics, Epicureans, and Plotinus.
  2. Emilsson reviews some of the grounds they offered for it, focusing mainly on the Stoic approach, then offers further considerations in its favor.
    1. If true, this ancient position would be very important, as it suggests that we are not harmed by our mortality: dying shortens a life, but it has no power to make that life worse than it would have been if it had gone on forever.
    2. It also bears on whether it might be good to be immortal. If extending a good life does not make it better, immortality is of no benefit to us.
  3. Emilsson suggests that when the ancient theorists deny that happiness is cumulative, they mean that it "does not accumulate like monthly savings that gradually raise the sum in our bank accounts." They do not deny that our happiness over a lifetime will be greater than it otherwise would be if we add on more happy days; they deny that our happiness at later times will not be greater than at earlier times if we add on more happy days.
  4. According to Plotinus, the former - having more happiness over a lifetime - should not matter to us, however, since neither past nor future happiness is "there for us to enjoy now."


Book Chapter, but pdf downloaded from Cambridge Core. Filed in zip with full book.

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: Taken from "Luper (Steven) - The Cambridge Companion to Life and Death: Introduction".

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

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