Socrates, Plato, and Aristotels View on Happiness

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s): 225
  • Published: November 13, 2005
Read full document
Text Preview
What Is Happiness
What is happiness, and how can one achieve true happiness? This is the ultimate question of life and what every person is seeking an answer to. Many feel that they have found their answer in belonging to the faith of their choice, but what is it that their faith teaches them that brings them happiness? The Philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle all have a similar view on what happiness is and how to achieve it. Aristotle's view is based on Plato's and Plato's is based on Socrates' teachings; this is why they are similar but they are all important and different with each philosopher's personal views and beliefs.

Socrates was a great man who was assassinated for his beliefs on the purpose of life and how to live happily. He presented the excellence of function to determine how a person will truly be happiest. The true person is not what he is on the out side but what his psyche or soul is and when that is functioning well the person is happiest. Psyche is the human capacity for reflective thinking and also the consciousness of the soul. "The unexamined life is a life not worth living." This is a quote from Socrates that supports his views on psyche. It states that when a person does not examine his life to find his true self, or excellence of function, that they are ignoring their true self and that a false life is not worth the time to live it. So an examined life will find its true self or what its function is and want to perform its function well. The excellence of function is what person's virtue implies. A person's virtue is where they will excel and function well at. So if a person is athletically talented in a sport and proceeds to play professionally they may be happy but if their soul was meant to teach young children to read that is where they will be the most pleased with their life. To find our virtue we must use our techne or practical knowledge and wisdom in how to perform certain skills. Techne is what allows us to function well. Many feel that if it brings some form of pleasure, do it because that brings happiness. All though Socrates is very steadfast in the idea that self control will bring the most pleasure to a person's life. Socrates says "If we gratify every urge as soon as it arises, we must often settle for fast food, cheap drink, sleeping all day, and crude sexual encounters. We will be little more than animals." The very valid point of this statement is that when there is a reward further down the road for an urge that is much greater than the half fulfilling reward that is presently at hand, why not wait? With out moderation there is no true happiness. Socrates has never said that happiness can not be found with out moderation just that complete happiness cannot be achieved without moderation and the excellence of function.

The Philosopher King is what Plato became to be known as. Plato was Socrates' friend and pupil for many years; he has built on Socrates' teachings to come to his own conclusion about how to find happiness. He like Socrates states that only a virtuous person can be happy or only a person who is functioning well will be happy. If you are living your life's function or part to its fullest extent then you will be a happy person. Plato describes a person's soul or their virtue of having three parts a rational part, spirited part, and an appetitive part. All three of these parts have to work to its entirety with out interfering with the other two parts. Here is where he disagrees with Socrates' belief that a person cannot knowingly doe wrong because wrong doing brings about unhappiness and there for those that know the good will do good (a person that is happy will make choices to make them happy). His belief is that a person has the choice of his actions and that even though their choice may cause unhappiness in the future the small amount of immediate happiness may alter their judgment. Along with the result of trial and error a person will find greater...
tracking img