What Is the Good Life?

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The Universal Definition to the Good Life
By Devin Fink

Ethics Business and Public Administration
Professor Michael Beltz
October 9th, 2012

The “good life” is a phrase that is used to describe the ideal life for one to live. According to Aristotle, the good life should be free of any greed, full of virtue, pleasure, and friendships, as well as excellence in whatever you may do. I would agree with all of the things he believed in. Many people in America would argue that the good life would consist of being rather wealthy without working, having many friends, a stable family with an attractive spouse and so on. I feel this visualization that America has of the good life is completely wrong. The good life should be more virtue based rather than being all about material objects and what you have for yourself. What you contribute to others’ lives should be focused on just as much as your own life when considering whether someone has the good life. In parts of Africa, their people could not even imagine having what the people of America consider to be the good life. Their idea of the good life would be much different and probably much more virtuous than America because they do not have material objects and their culture is much more different than America’s. This makes defining the good life universally quite difficult, because the good life can be interpreted so many ways. However, a universal definition of the phrase good life is possible; I believe if you make the primary goal relatively general this task can be done.

One approach that could be used to define the good life is emphasizing simplicity. In the book “Walden”, philosopher Henry David Thoreau emphasizes simplicity when trying to define the good life. His findings during his isolation in the book “Walden” were quite interesting. He found that by lowering his standards, he had no room for letdown, he was always content. He also claimed that his new lower standards...
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