AQ: Australian Quarterly

From well-being to well-living:   Towards a post-capitalist understanding of quality of life

Although such shifts in our understanding of wellbeing must be welcomed, the concept of wellbeing hasn’t been liberated from its underlying hegemonic political agendas, and has become even more complicated by an increasing public, state and corporate interest.

For many people, happiness is increasingly evaluated by digital tools that constantly monitor a wide range of variables – daily step targets, calorie intake, stress level, spending habits, etc. – providing an incredible source of income to the towering ‘happiness industry’. Tracking our personal health and ‘life goals’ has become a normalised and – sometimes obsessive – phenomenon. A popular intellectual project, with a strong technocratic tone, seems now to be at work to constantly assess, compare and promote people’s happiness.

Yet the question of how to realise a good life as a ‘state of being’ and/or to evaluate what a good life ‘achieves’ (either subjectively or objectively) is an ancient one. So are the disagreements – especially for elite thinkers in both the Western and Eastern antiquities. These elites were divided by a profound ambiguity known as the dualism of hedonic vs. eudemonic traditions.

The question of how to realise a good life and/or to evaluate what a

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