Philosophers defend theories of what well-being is but ignore what psychologists have learned about it, while psychologists learn about well-being but lack a theory of what it is. In The Good Life, Michael Bishop brings together these complementary investigations and proposes a powerful, new theory for understanding well-being.
The network theory holds that to have well-being is to be "stuck" in a self-perpetuating cycle of positive emotions, attitudes, traits and accomplishments. For someone with well-being, these states - states such as joy and contentment, optimism and adventurousness, extraversion and perseverance, strong relationships, professional success and good health - build upon and foster each other. They form a kind of positive causal network (PCN), so that a person high in well-being finds herself in
a positive cycle or "groove." A person with a lesser degree of well-being might possess only fragments of such a network - some positive feelings, attitudes, traits or successes, but not enough to kick start a full-blown, self-perpetuating network.
Although recent years have seen an explosion of psychological research into well-being, this discipline, often called Positive Psychology, has no consensus definition. The network theory provides a new framework for understanding Positive Psychology. When psychologists investigate correlations and causal connections among positive emotions, attitudes, traits, and accomplishments, they are studying the structure of PCNs. And when they identify states that establish, strengthen or extinguish
PCNs, they are studying the dynamics of PCNs. Positive Psychology, then, is the study of the structure and dynamics of positive causal networks.
The Good Life represents a new, inclusive approach to the study of well-being, an approach committed to the proposition that discovering the nature of well-being requires the knowledge and skills of both the philosopher in her armchair and the scientist in her lab. The resulting theory provides a powerful, unified foundation for future scientific and philosophical investigations into well-being and the good life.
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Number of pages: 250
Weight: 294 g
Dimensions: 210 x 142 x 15 mm
Bishop (Florida State Univ.) takes a reasoned and calm interdisciplinary look at both attempts, and posits a novel bridge that can serve as a path to continued dialogue... This volume is an important addition to both psychology and philosophy. Recommended. * Choice
This is the very best sort of interdisciplinary scholarship, in service of theory that is both philosophically and empirically perspicuous. Well-being is a topic of obvious philosophical interest, and psychological research on the subject is endlessly fascinating. The Good Life is a novel and substantial contribution to a burgeoning field, and will interest a broad range of philosophers, psychologists, and political theorists. For anyone wondering about the
new 'science of happiness,' an indispensable volume." * John Doris, Washington University in St. Louis
This important and engaging book brings a fresh perspective to the study of well-being. Michael Bishop proposes a new inclusive approach that takes the investigation into the nature of well-being to be a genuinely interdisciplinary venture, requiring the talents of both philosophers and scientists. Using this inclusive approach, Bishop defends an original and compelling theory of well-being, the network theory. Psychologists and philosophers interested in well-being
will benefit equally from this book, which offers a walkable path out of troubling theoretical disorder and frustrating philosophical stalemate. * Valerie Tiberius, University of Minnesota
...the most significant addition to the philosophical bestiary is Michael A. Bishop's network theory of well-being, which he defends in this important new book...This is a marvelous book, made all the more so by its plain-spoken, good humored and concise exposition...I heartily recommend it for anyone interested in the philosophy or science of well-being."- - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews Online
This is an admirable project. * Sean Meseroll, Philosophical Quarterly *