The Human Concept of Happiness and Good | Free Essay Example

The Human Concept of Happiness and Good

Words: 818
Topic: Sociology
Updated:

In order to achieve happiness or fulfilment, men’s good character is essential. This implies that men must live righteously and strive for the good if they wish to enjoy a complete life. According to Aristotle, happiness depends on humans themselves, more than anything else. He states that happiness is the central purpose of all human life and a goal in itself.

Therefore, men’s happiness can be achieved through cultivation of virtues. The most important thing, when people want to achieve happiness, is to uphold good morals or virtues. Developing virtues implies that people should make very hard decisions, which eventually yields happiness in their lives (White 59). In this paper, the philosophical relationship between the man’s good behaviour and happiness is explained.

An effort to attain goals is thought to be a source of happiness. This means that working towards something can make men happy, if they get what they want. As such, many people feel very disappointed when they fail to achieve what they aspires because they do not anticipate the challenges experienced in the process of working out to achieve the goals.

Surprisingly, once people attain what they want, the incentive that drives loses momentum. Attainment of goals is definitely a good thing, but expecting it to produce happiness is misguided because sometimes things can fail to turn out the way they are planned (White 59).

According to Socrates, happiness can result from human efforts. Nonetheless, men should be able to manage their desires to avoid finding themselves in trouble, and they should also control their innersoles in order to have good lives. This is intended to enhance the production of a divine-like condition of inner tranquillity that cannot be affected by the external world.

In other words, this means that the best way to live is by upholding morals and ethically upright life, which would ensure a happy life. According to Plato, acquisition of material wealth and riches can also lead to happiness if these materials are acquired through good or virtuous means. Since nobody is born without any good, people can become morally virtuous and therefore happy through practising of good morals (White 64).

Augustine of Hippo, a medieval philosopher, believed that human reasoning is useful to only people who already have faith. Both Augustine and Plato found no reality in evil, since they argued that nonexistence of good is what defines evil. Just as Plato argued in his writings, Augustine states that the creation of human beings is an important component of the divine arrangement for the cosmos, which outweighs the apparent consequences of the bad decisions of the men.

Aristotle argues that happiness is determined by the cultivation of virtues. This argument differs with the Epicurean outlook where the Epicureans view virtue as the means of acquiring pleasure. Epicureans also argue that there are activities that people do, which are considered evil, yet they have pleasurable ends.

The arguments of Aristotle and the Stoics, in regards to the concept of happiness, have a lot of similarities and differences. In his theory of language and knowledge, Aristotle maintains that happiness is what is already accomplished, and that happiness is a current and attentive happening of the inner person coupled with desirable quality and excellence.

Most importantly, Aristotle found that the actions of the inner person in an attempt to gain excellent and desirable understanding are the biggest determinant of happiness. This is because it is naturally the type of activity, which the frail constitutions can carry on for a long and continuous duration and an activity that is more magnified by friendships through dialectic conversation. As such, according to Aristotle, happiness is in most cases realized when people seek ways of understanding things especially through sociable exchange of information.

The stoics view differs with that of Aristotle since they related happiness to death. Stoics view lives as shaped by death, hence the need to live as a response to the right knowledge of death. Hence, for the stoics, knowledge and life are instruments and also reactions whereas Aristotle perceives happiness and knowledge as justified by the structure of men’s existence as demonstrated by their desires and activities (Whiting and Engstrom 23).

In view of this discussion, good life is an essential component of happiness, though it does not qualify as its sufficient condition. This means that it is not a must for one to be happy in order to be considered as living a good life. The discussion has shown the philosophical relationship between the man’s good behaviour and happiness.

All the philosophers mentioned in this paper have their own account of happiness and the good life, but they have not been able to offer a convincing account of what happiness must be. All the same, analysing the lives of men who disregard morals makes some sense to reason that human beings can only achieve happiness by living righteously (Whiting and Engstrom 23).

Works Cited

White, Stephen. Philosophy. New York: Stanford University press, 1992. Print.

Whiting Jennifer and Stephen Engstrom. Aristotle, Kant and the Stoics: Rethinking Happiness and Duty. New York: Cambridge, 1998. Print.