Dr. Sophia Protopapa explores Aristotle’s view of living (and doing) well in new book

9 November 2016, 12:00 am

Eudaimonia as a Way of Life: a conversation with Aristotle inspired by the Nicomachean Ethics is the title of a new book by Dr. Sophia Protopapa, Director of the Hellenic American College Career Development Office. The work explores the philosopher's idea of eudaimonia (often translated as happiness but, as the author points out, a much deeper concept), which he developed in Book I and parts of Book X of Nicomachean Ethics, as an activity of the soul driven by virtue, a product of a life lived with purpose, engagement, and self-reflection.

The book is written in an informal, conversational style, as if the writer were talking to a friend. It was a deliberately choice. One of Dr. Protopapa's main motivations in writing the book was her desire to share Aristotle's work with students. "Aristotle tells us that an important way of learning about virtue is observe the actions of a virtuous person. Many of our students will find themselves in positions of leadership, and with leadership comes moral responsibility." (Dr. Protopapa will be holding a workshop on the topic at Hellenic American College this coming winter.)

For a writer convinced that ancient Greek philosophy is still relevant today, Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, which some consider the first systematic study of character, was not an unusual choice of subject matter. Dr. Protopapa notes that despite its length and interpretative and methodological difficulties, the Nicomachean Ethics "is actually a very practical work that looks at virtue and vice in relation to our actions and passions, in essence to our character, and explores how to live a good life".

The work is the first in a planned series of short books on ancient Greek philosophy on ethics, character, and the good life. Called Ancient Greek Wisdom in Time, the series will be written in the same "reader-friendly" manner and with the same goal in mind, namely, to make ancient Greek thought accessible to a broader public interested in fostering their personal growth and helping create a better world.