Hedonism, Eudaimonia, and the Serious Leisure Perspective

Monday, 11 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Dachgeschoss (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Robert STEBBINS, university of calgary, Canada
Waterman (1993), in reviewing some of the modern literature on eudaimonism, describes it as an “ethical theory.” Its practical message is that people should recognize and live according to the daimon, or their true self (Norton, 1976). The theory is ancient, with roots at least as far back as classical Hellenic philosophy, including Aristotle. Waterman’s discussion shows clearly the import of eudaimonism for the serious leisure perspective (SLP):

The daimon refers to those potentialities of each person, the realization of which represents the greatest fulfillment in living of which each is capable. These include both the potentialities that are shared by all humans by virtue of our common specieshood and those unique potentials that distinguish each individual from all others. The daimon is an ideal in the sense of being an excellence, a perfection toward which one strives and, hence, it can give meaning and direction to one's life. Efforts to live in accordance with the daimon, to realize those potentials (self-realization), give rise to a condition termed eudaimonia. Such efforts can be said to be personally expressive of the individual.

It is during their serious pursuits that leisure participants are eudaimonic, are living according to the daimon. Casual leisure activities, which are hedonic, have a dramatically different appeal. The third form constituting the SLP -- project-based leisure -- is also eudaimonic, but significantly more weakly so than the serious pursuits.

            We consider the SLP, showing how eudaimonism and hedonism are experienced in modern leisure. A treatment of the relationship of the SLP to well-being rounds out the paper. Here I use the concept of optimal leisure lifestyle to show how all three forms of the Perspective can contribute to personal well-being. That is, both eudaimonism and hedonism are important ingredients in the recipe for a life of lasting happiness.