Integral Perspective on Happiness


  • Joonas Uotinen University of Turku


Wilber, Ken, Spirituality, Psychology and religion, Philosophy and religion, Philosophy, American, Systems (Philosophy), Systems theory, Kekes, John, Happiness, Buddhism, Contentment, Ecology, Human development, Sustainability, Enlightenment, Ethics


A happiness science has emerged amidst, and spans, the social sciences. This research, despite the long philosophical tradition on happiness, is in its infancy and a robust theory of happiness is called for. I will review parts of the literature and some of the main happiness theories using Ken Wilber’s Integral approach. I will concentrate largely on Aristotle’s eudaimonia, as that has re-emerged into the centre of happiness discussions as a possible contender for the prevailing subjective happiness theories. The Integral approach seems to provide valuable insights into many happiness theories, juxtapose them in a comprehensible way, pinpoint deficiencies, and propose enhancements. Amongst other things, I will propose a new happiness theory combining John Kekes’ happiness theory with ecological ethics and I will conclude that enlightenment proves to be a good candidate for the ultimate good, or summum bonum, I will enlarge on Aristotle’s theory and propose that Wilber’s theory provides an ‘Integral road map towards eudaimonia enhanced – the enlightenment’. I will argue that eudaimonia and enlightenment, though superficially dissimilar, accord in surprising ways, to a great extent. I will discuss whether the discussion of happiness and morality is critically biased, and I will discuss the societal implications that Wilber’s conception of the human might have through its implications for happiness theories. 

How to Cite

Uotinen, J. (2015). Integral Perspective on Happiness. Approaching Religion, 5(2), 93–106.