Happiness Aristotle’s and the Stoics’ View

Topics: Ethics, Virtue, Nicomachean Ethics Pages: 5 (1754 words) Published: November 18, 2012
Happiness is all around the world, it is a very genuine and important thing, and everyone wants to be happy. Being happy is what makes life worth living, and it makes life a lot better in every way possible. What makes people happy though? Are bodily and external goods necessary to happiness? I would say no because by which they can make you happy, they are not necessary for human happiness. It’s not what things you buy, the pain, the suffering, or enjoyment your body might get. Human happiness comes from somewhere else within the human. Comparing and contrasting Aristotle’s and the Stoics’ view of human happiness will help give a better clear and logical understanding on what really happiness is and why I believe that bodily and external goods are not necessary for happiness.

“If someone lives a virtuous and morally worthy life, then no matter how advantages come to him (excluding those that are his fault), he will lack nothing needed for true happiness” (Barlaam 25). That was the way the Stoics believed happiness really is. The Stoic’s belief in happiness is quite complicated and in order to understand what they mean, one must thoroughly examine their views. We have human goods and then we have other human “goods”. If these “goods” are added, they will not make people any happier. Happiness will only come from human goods like only those that are truly praiseworthy, and if the human is praised, then that will make for a happy life. The Stoics believed that true human happiness is a complete combination of all distinctive human things. The Stoics say that if you have a skill, it does not matter toward happiness. Having a skill will not make you happy. “For though a man may be a good carpenter, or workman, or scribe, he is not called a good man by reason of that art, or praised simply as a wise or prudent or intelligent man” (Barlaam 6-7). That’s the main reason why the Stoics say that skills are not needed for happiness. The Stoics also believe that bodily and external goods do not pertain to human happiness. They both don’t make a man happy when they have it because they are not being praised and the Stoic’s believe that happy people should be praised. Even if bodily and external goods are good or bad and if it belongs to a good and bad condition. Remaining cool, calm, and a strong and spirited individual will make you happy. Things that are included though are virtue. “But as long as a man is steeped in the virtues, and regularly moderates and directs all his thoughts and acts and life by the virtues, all other things can come and go and be possessed in any which way; nothing will be subtracted from or added to that by which he is more or less happy.”(Barlaam 9-10) Tertiary and secondary goods might make a person think they are happy, but in all reality the person is not. The Stoics think that if a person is happy with tertiary and secondary goods the person will lack virtues and having virtues to the Stoics is what makes a man happy. Basically if a person thinks they are happy with tertiary and secondary goods, then they are really not because they are lacking virtues. A person that is free from changes or variations of fortune and is virtuous then will live in happiness. A man could own everything he wants and he thinks he’s happy. Having bodily and external goods may think for a man to be happy, but he is really not.

The Stoic’s idea of happiness has these advantages, which are virtue, from fault, and neither. From virtue, men are given their due by other men or when health and strength come from abstinence or guidance. Also by fault, when a person has a kid by adultery. It also comes from neither virtue or fault, but acts of God and his effort he gives us. With these advantages the Stoics say that there are divisions of happiness as well. The first kind is best condition of life itself, when a man is finally able to get what he wants. The second is presupposing the first kind of happiness, with...
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