Music, dance, and other art forms: New insights into the links between hedonia (pleasure) and eudaimonia (well-being)

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  • Eloise A Stark, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX3 7JX, United Kingdom. morten.kringelbach@queens.ox.ac.uk.
  • ,
  • Peter Vuust
  • Morten L Kringelbach

For Aristotle, the goal of human life was to live well, to flourish, and to ultimately have a good life. These goals can be conceptualized as "eudaimonia," a concept distinct from "hedonia" (pleasure). Many people would argue that the arts play a large role in their well-being and eudaimonia. Music in particular is a culturally ubiquitous phenomenon which brings joy and social bonding to listeners. Research has given insights into how the "sweet anticipation" of music and other art forms can lead to pleasure, but a full understanding of eudaimonia from the arts is still missing. What is clear is that anticipation and prediction are important for extracting meaning from our environment. In fleeting moments this may translate into pleasure, but over longer timescales, it can imbue life with meaning and purpose and lead to eudaimonia. Based on the existing evidence from neuroimaging, we hypothesize that a special network in the brain, the default-mode network, may play a central role in orchestrating eudaimonia, and propose future strategies for exploring these questions further.

Original languageEnglish
Book seriesProgress in Brain Research
Volume237
Pages (from-to)129-152
Number of pages24
ISSN0079-6123
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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