Happy Life: Critical Thinking and Ethics

If we are to live our life in harmony with nature, what qualities must our mind have?

Seneca admits that if people want to live a life in a harmony with nature, it is necessary for a human mind to have and develop several qualities. Soundness, sanity, courage, moral energy, and the ability to define the advantages “that adorn life” and remain to be not a slave, but the user “of the gifts of fortune” (Seneca, 2015, p. 477) are these main qualities. It is not an easy task to live in harmony with nature because it is necessary to live according to virtue. People should have a mind that can understand the standards and use the above-mentioned qualities in order to realize what virtue actually means and how it may define the quality and the whole essence of this life.

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What is the only true good? The only true evil?

Seneca is one of the philosophers, whose attempts to define the peculiarities of the true good and the true evil are successful indeed. In addition to the explanations, he offers some examples to explain a true worth of his words. For example, the true good, or “the highest good” is introduced as “a mind that scorns the happenings of chance and rejoices only in virtue” (Seneca, 2015, p. 477). Seneca believes that the only true good is that portion of virtue that provides a person with a sense of living. At the same time, Seneca does not pay much attention to the definition of the true evil. He just underlines that the absence of virtue is not good. The true evil may be everything free from virtue.

How is pleasure related to virtue?

Seneca writes about the connection that exists between pleasure and virtue. In fact, the way of how these two concepts are related is rather controversial. Both, pleasure and virtue are the components of the concept of happiness. However, Seneca offers to believe that happiness can be attained through virtue but not through pleasure. In other words, the relation between virtue and pleasure lies in their counter positions in regards to the idea of happiness. In fact, the life is full of pleasures and virtue. It is hard for a person to be happy without any of these concepts. At the same time, it is necessary to remember that one concept is good, and another is evil, and a person is free to decide what kind of life he/she wants to get.

Why is it a blunder to ask why we should seek virtue?

Some people still want to know why they have to seek for virtue, and Seneca explains that this kind of request as a kind of a blunder due to the virtue’s essence. The point is that virtue is already a pick of everything in this life. And it is wrong or even impossible to believe that something more can be achieved. This is why people have to understand that their attempts to achieve virtue should become the main goal in a life that promotes sense and happiness.

Why does the wise person prefer having riches to not having them? When we have riches, what attitude should we take toward them?

Discussing happiness and riches, Seneca mentions that a wise man has a chance to be happy even without riches; still, he prefers to have some. Such attitude to riches can be easily explained: riches become a serious underground for a person’s development and happiness. Any person has more chances to be happy and successful if some material values are present in the life and do not cause any emotions or feeling. A person needs some guarantee that something material is present in the life.


Seneca, L.A. (2015). On the happy life. In O. Roca and M. Schuh (Eds), An examined life: Critical thinking and ethics (pp. 475-484). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Happy Life: Critical Thinking and Ethics'. 5 March.

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