Happiness and the Art of Life: Diagnosing the psychopolitics of wellbeing

M. Greco, P. Stenner


Building upon the idea of a psychology without foundations and on vitalist approaches to health, the paper presents the concepts of ‘joy’ and of ‘gay science’ as theoretical points of contrast to Seligman’s ‘happiness’ and ‘positive psychology’. Defined by Spinoza and Nietzsche as the feeling of becoming more active in the world, joy emphasises the embodied connection between self and world. By contrast, we propose, a defining characteristic of the contemporary happiness dispositif is precisely the feature of splitting the subject from their world; of treating feelings and desires as purely internal, individual and subjective affairs; and of effectively cutting people off from any of their powers that do not correspond to a limited mode of entrepeneurial subjectivity and practice.


positive psychology; affect; joy; governmentality; wellbeing

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/hcs.2013.147


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