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And, by living in accordance to the highest good, happiness (or Eudaimonia) can be attained. The good life according to philosophy. As a young man he studied in Plato's Academy in Athens. For instance, we value money because it enables us to buy things we want; we value leisure because it gives us time to pursue our interests. But should we really describe them as “living well”? Instead of being trapped in the past or fearful about the future, try to enjoy this present moment. According to Aristotle, what is happiness (eudaimonia)? On the other hand however, by applying reason to the examination of (your own) life, a continuous stream of knowledge and virtues can be acquired. Without it, it would not fully contribute to your happiness and fulfillment. Indeed, during the child-raising years, and especially when children have turned into teenagers, parents typically have lower levels of happiness and higher levels of stress. According to Aristotle Good/moral/virtuous life is only possible where? On this view, to describe a person as “happy” means that they “feel good,” and a happy life is one that contains many “feel good” experiences. Abstract: Aristotle explain how human beings can lead lives of excellence as activity in accordance with practical and theoretical reason. In many discussions, the word “habit” is attached to the Ethics as though it were the answer to a multiple-choice question on a philosophy achievement test. But devout believers are confident that their piety will not be in vain. It helps human beings to develop that which separates them from animals. Not every person that is living a satisfied life is living a good life. What it needs is people who stand in their own sovereignty. Quite the contrary is the case. Every activity is performed for a certain target, which is rated individually as good and makes the best life to an active approach. In fact, one might want to amend it to: Call no man happy until he’s long dead. Instead of living the good life, we succumb to the instinct-driven and unreasoned qualities we share with animals. 5). While it is certainly true that the good life means a great variety of different things to different people, we can all agree that being haunted by the past or having fear of the future is certainly not part of it. Firstly, those aspects of our life that can be influenced or changed. scientific research, artistic creation, or scholarship. According to Aristotle, things of any variety have a characteristic function that they are properly used to perform. Explain and trace out some examples of Aristotle's Doctrine of the Mean. Nichomachean Ethics, I.5: “The life of money-making is one undertaken under compulsion, and wealth is evidently not the good we are seeking; for it is merely useful and for the sake of something else.” Money is only good for what it can buy. Secondly, honor might not necessarily contribute to a person’s happiness. Examine life, explore its concepts and principles and seek to learn new things each day. Even further, people that do not reflect on the nature of things are not living a worthwhile life. From this Aristotle concludes that the highest good cannot consist primarily out of these three aspects. Socrates compared this process to a charioteer directing two horses. One basic way we use the word “good” is to express moral approval. According the Aristotle, happiness and having a good life is about virtue. These virtues can for instance stem from the acquisition of knowledge about the fundamental principles of nature. Also, the future can be greatly impacted in this very moment. Imagine you’re living the good life but no one is around you can share your joy with. Every human being aspires to live a good life. Obviously, many people do not receive their reward in this life. Gratitude is an important aspect of the good life. He considers the end of humans to be the good life. As a consequence, they seek to add material belongings, wealth, social status, fame or something entirely different to their lives. Thus, the final good must be an activity desirable in itself— i.e., virtue, and, indeed, the highest virtue, the contemplative life (theoria). What does it mean to “live well”?—but these are really just the same question. The good life is a life that is not primarily wasted with mundane activities. He argues that it is much better to suffer wrong than to do it; that a good man who has his eyes gouged out and is tortured to death is more fortunate than a corrupt person who has used wealth and power dishonorably. Socrates and Plato both gave absolute priority to being a virtuous person over all other supposedly good things such as pleasure, wealth, or power. Aristotle, "What is the Life of Excellence?" Solely understanding nature’s principles and contemplating on these does not contribute the highest good. As a result, most people act accordingly. Therefore, the function of a human being (i.e. Pleasure is enjoyable, it’s fun, it’s...well...pleasant! The concept of living the good life includes the relationship dimension as well. They think that the good life can only be attained through the acquisition of wealth, status and a variety of other things. It suggests that they are devoted to what some have called the “lower” pleasures such as sex, food, drink, and sensual indulgence in general. But Aristotle’s idea of what it means to live well is objectivist rather than subjectivist. Aristotle begins the work by positing that there exists some ultimate good toward which, in the final analysis, all human actions ultimately aim. Nicomachean Ethics is a philosophical inquiry into the nature of the good life for a human being. As a writer named Christine puts it: What exactly is the good life and what contributes to living a good life? Although Epicurus disagreed with Plato about the value of pleasure, he fully agreed with him on this point. For some, the good life is all about spending time playing video games or watching television, while eating and drinking as much as they please. For many people, the well-being of their family, especially their children and grandchildren, is the main source of meaning in life. In itself, wealth cannot make happy. You don’t necessarily have to add something new to your life to enjoy the good life. As we all know, human desires can be boundless, while the earth’s resources are quite limited. If Socrates emphasizes virtue and Epicurus emphasizes pleasure, another great Greek thinker, Aristotle, views the good life in a more comprehensive way. Still, the question remains to this present day. Not only pursuing it but understanding it too. Discovering that function is the first step in living the good life, and it is followed by acting on that function. Empeiria"refers to experience,"tekhene"refers to technique, while"phronesis"refers to moral and ethical virtue. Before studying Aristotle and Plato’s philosophical views on what it means to live a good life, I had my own ideas of what the good life looks like – and I felt that there …show more content… According to Plato, wisdom is the key to living the good life. The American Dream is just a way of measuring the so called happiness of life with tangibles. After Plato's death he left Athens to conduct philosophical and biological research in Asia Mino… Recent research shows that people who have children are not necessarily happier than people who don’t have children. Even more so, relationships are an integral part of a worthwhile life. As philosopher Martha Nusbaum explains, “What [Aristotle] does, in each case, is to isolate a sphere of human experience that figures in more or less any human life… In line with this arguing, the popular philosophers Socrates and Plato primarily define in their works the good life as the examination of life, the mastery of the self and the contribution to one’s community. Aristotle says there are two ways to start and to do something good when not yet being good: Through randomness or under qualified supervision. It is worth noting, though, that in both the Gorgias and the Republic, Plato bolsters his argument with a speculative account of an afterlife in which virtuous people are rewarded and wicked people are punished. 5). Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. In The Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle sets forth his concept of the good life, or eudaimonia, which must be distinguished from today’s concept of happiness in that it is much more systematized, rigid, and carefully nuanced. Eudaimonia is perhaps best translated as flourishing or living well and doing well. The good life to Aristotle is a virtuous life. By being grateful we can also overcome the never-ending pursuit of boundless desires. Many religions also conceive of the good life in moral terms as a life lived according to God’s laws. According to Aristotle, the good life is a happy life, or, more accurately, one that is: Vices Virtues are strengths of character that promote human flourishing and well-being, and are weaknesses of character that hinder human flourishing or well-being. Of course, the great majority of people today do not belong to the leisure class as Aristotle did. Therefore, these people will never truly be able to live the good life, because there will always be something missing. This, however, is the wrong approach. This shift in perception can help you to start living the good life in this present moment, without being dependent upon external influences. In his work Apology, Plato gives an account of a speech given by Socrates while defending himself against allegations of impiety and corrupting the youth in the year 399 BC. Hindus expect that the law of karma will ensure that their good deeds and intentions will be rewarded, while evil actions and desires will be punished, either in this life or in future lives. Instead, the highest good should be something that aims to maximize the inherent faculties of man. Secondly, there are those aspects or events that are beyond our ability to influence or alter. For sometimes a person can appear to live a fine life, and be able to check all the boxes—virtue, prosperity, friendship, respect, meaning, etc.—yet eventually be revealed as something other than what we thought they were. It is through the process of contemplating and learning that intellectual virtues are steadily acquired. As you can see, there’s potentially a huge difference between living the good life and living a good life. Jimmy Saville may have enjoyed his life. A faculty seminar I attended a few years ago was mired in the opinion that Aristotle thinks the good life is one of mindless routine. In line with this arguing, not being able to control your desires and passions will make you behave like an uncontrolled and misdirected stubborn horse. Socrates argued that each and every one of us is such a charioteer. Bertrand Russell. According to Aristotle, happiness is the only end or good that we desire for its own sake, and it is for the sake of happiness that we desire all other ends or goods. These kinds of life according to Aristotle are superficial and fake (Ross, Book 1, chap. And what is living well a means to? The good life is a term that refers to a (desirable) state that is primarily characterized by a high standard of living or the adherence to ethical and moral laws. Doing good work for the world, sacrificing for your family, or being a great scholar are all wonderful things to do, but they are part of living well, not the whole of a good life. This virtue, then, is the complete human, and it was unique to our species. ... To insure the good life for its citizens. 1) happiness is the highest human good 2) flourishing/the best life 3) all actions aim at some end, there must be an ultimate end or action would be futile 4) Happiness is a life that is being well led through virtue, living well and acting well Aristotle stated for a good reason that the unexamined life is not worth living. There are spheres of life that we find it difficult to deal with, and being virtuous is about Living life without ever reflecting upon it is not worth living. As such, the term can both be understood as the quest for wealth, material possessions or luxuries and the quest to create a worthwhile, honest and meaningful existence. In its two different expressions, living the good life can be either expressed through an abundant/luxurious lifestyle full of material belongings or the attempt to live life in accordance with the ethical, moral, legal and religious laws of one’s country or culture. The good life does not consist of continuously chasing evermore. Plato believed that any object, animal or man has a natural function. But the other requirement of a fully rational life is that in order to flourish as human beings we need to develop the virtues of character that allow us to feel and act according to reason. This virtue, then, is the complete human, and it was unique to our species. Here is what Aristotle says about the good life and if it still stands in the contemporary world. It is only through self-mastery that we can replace our boundless appetite for pleasure with a nobler and more reasonable thinking. Therefore, living the good life also consists of spending a significant amounts of your time with those that you love and enjoy being around. According to Aristotle, the best life to live is a life of pursuing knowledge. These examples raise an important issue. 5). Therefore, the life that is solely lived for the purpose of fulfilling one’s own desires can never be fully considered a truly meaningful and worthwhile existence. As such, it would be quite limited and out of balance. a good human being) is the excellent performance of these actions. After all, Escobar is recorded to have been the wealthiest criminal in history. It resembles reason and man’s capability to reflect upon that which he does. Aristotle conceives of ethical theory as a field distinct from the theoretical sciences. The good life is all about growing, developing and becoming stronger together, not alone. After all, everyone wants to live well, and no one wants “the bad life.”. The good life has to be virtuous. This moral conception of the good life has had plenty of champions. They may devote themselves to a cause: e.g. Others associate the good life with days spent in nature, pondering and philosophizing about life. Aristotle says that we’d be hard pushed to describe someone who is totally solitary as having a good life, and that nobody would choose to live without friends, even if they had all the other goods. We value many things because they are a means to other things. According to Aristotle, we all want to be happy. The … Happiness, therefore, is the best good of a human being, and can only be achieved when a person’s soul is actively expressing reason in accordance with virtue. We value many things because they are a means to other things. Even more so, all the other aspects of the good life can only be committed in a worthwhile manner by utilizing them for the greater cause. If the charioteer ever wants to live the good life, the stubborn appetites of the first horse must be controlled. It is only through the combination of these aspects that a joyous and happy life can be truly considered the good life. Epicurus was thought by some of his contemporaries to be advocating and practicing this sort of lifestyle, and even today an “epicure” is someone who is especially appreciative of food and drink. Therefore, the good life combines aspects of exploration, self-mastery and civic responsibility with the endeavor to spend your time in a worthwhile manner that both satisfies and fulfills. We all have to handle two horses. According to Aristotle, this kind of life is “suitable to beast” (Ross, Book 1, chap. It is our capacity for reason that differentiates human beings from (instinct-driven and pleasure-seeking) animals. Happiness, therefore, is the best good of a human being, and can only be achieved when a person’s soul is actively expressing reason in accordance with virtue. Living without questioning and reflecting your behavior, beliefs and values, can result in spending your time with activities that are not worthwhile. The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus was one of the first to declare, bluntly, that what makes life worth living is that we can experience pleasure. Instead, simplicity and the ability to draw happiness from what you already have can be integral aspects of a good life. According to Aristotle, the good life is the happy life, as he believes happiness is an end in itself. The problem is, we all define the phrase “good life” differently. It is a direct reflection of our animal instincts with a boundless appetite for lust and pleasure. Thirdly, the desire to fulfill one’s (bodily) desires is not something limited to human beings alone. It has been posed in different ways—How should one live? Or they may be thoroughly immersed in and engaged with some particular community: e.g. The second horse is of a much nobler and more sensible spirit. Consequently, a person achieves happiness by contemplation, learning and the mental strength to perform right actions. Like Plato, he regards the ethical virtues (justice, courage, tempe… The term “living the good life” can mean quite a variety of different things to different people. This outlook goes back a very long way. Imagine a powerful sadist who spends much of his time gratifying cruel desires. Such a person does not only know what is right, but also acts accordingly and derives happiness, fulfillment and purpose from it. While we’re not able to control a great variety of events in life, we still have the capacity to control our responses to these events. How does Aristotle's definition of happiness differ from the … Aristotle begins the work by positing that there exists some ultimate good toward which, in the final analysis, all human actions ultimately aim. Christian martyrs went singing to their deaths confident that they would soon be in heaven. Desires by means of mundane activities by applying the principles of nature in all most. 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