How are we, I wondered, to make a giant leap from an economic paradigm of human organization to a eudaimonic one? From one that single-mindedly, one-dimensionally maximizes near-term income, at the price of the well-being, health, flourishing, of you, me, our grandkids, and our planet, to one that elevates and expands all that — from one that, as it grows more and more broken, minimizes life realizing itself, instead of maximizing life realizing itself?
To be honest, I was much happier dying than thinking about economics. But death is a funny thing. It asks you questions about life that you can’t unask. So as much as I didn’t want to, I found myself thinking, reluctantly, about life itself. How the old paradigm fails to elevate and expand it. How the old world is falling, but the new world isn’t yet born. About us, stuck in the interregnum. And most of all, about an absence of good answers for what to do about it all.
So I did what any sensible person would do. I created one. I call it “eudaimonics”. You can think of it as a branch of, an adjunct to, or a step beyond “economics”. It doesn’t really matter. And no, it’s not the, best, or only answer. Just my own little framework.
We’ve spent centuries learning to speak about the economics of things — which is the paradigm through which we see, enact, and organize human potential. Now I think it’s time we learned to speak of the eudaimonics of things. How much eudaimonia, life well lived, does an organization — whether a company, city, town, or country — realize? For how long, how intensely, along which dimensions?
Let me give you three simple examples.