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Wellbeing: A Complete Reference Guide, Volume IV, Wellbeing in Later Life by Cary L. Cooper, Thomas B. L. Kirkwood

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14

Maintaining Wellbeing Through the End of Life

Julian C. Hughes

Newcastle University, U.K.

Introduction

Philosophers have been concerned about wellbeing, in one form or another, for centuries. It is deeply entwined with our conceptions of the good life. As soon as this is said, however, ambiguities start to emerge. An important ambiguity concerns whether wellbeing describes how things might actually be, or how things ought to be. We might say that the good life is constituted by wellbeing (as a sort of biopsychosocial and spiritual state), or we might say that wellbeing involves living a morally good life. To labor the point a little, it might be that if I have a degree of bodily fitness, if I am mentally stable, if I enjoy a supportive social environment, and experience a certain degree of spiritual peace, then this is wellbeing. These things constitute wellbeing and, by implication, the good life. In other words, the life that is good for a person. The alternative is that the notion of the good life suggests something more normative. What is important, then, is that the life that is led should be (morally) good, in some sense, and wellbeing will result if such a life is lived, even if there is a degree of physical discomfort, psychological pressure, and social tension. [Interestingly, it is a little harder to suggest that you can have wellbeing without spiritual peace, but that might simply reflect a particular conception of wellbeing. It might, for instance, still be possible ...

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