What is human flourishing? It encompasses all that nourishes the human spirit.
Aristotle understood the following as intrinsic to us as people:
- We are physical beings. As physical beings, we require nourishment, exercise, rest, and all the other things that it takes to keep our bodies functioning properly.
- We are emotional beings. We have wants, desires, urges, and reactions. We perceive something in the world that we want and we have the power of volition to get it; likewise, we have the power to avoid the things we don’t want.
- We are social beings. We must live and function in particular societies. “No man is an island,” and we are the type of being that does well only in social settings. Our social nature stacks on top of our emotional nature, such that we have wants and needs that we would not have were we not social creatures. For example, if we were the type of creature that flourished as hermits, the need for trust and friendly cooperation would not be nearly so pressing.
- We are rational beings. What made our species human was our rationality. We are creative, expressive, knowledge-seeking species who is able to obey reason.
To act on behalf of human flourishing is to care for these pieces of human nature.