How we Achieve Happiness
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April 14, 2014
In the history of happiness, Socrates had a different place in the history of the West since he was the pioneering philosopher to reason that happiness occurred through human effort. Socrates existed in Greece around 460 BC in a place where happiness existed as a preserve of the people favored by the god only. The perception of hubris existed where one could only attain happiness through harsh punishment in this context; the Greek philosopher diverted this view of obtaining happiness from the body and focused on the soul. Aristotle was also one of the greatest Greek philosophers that sought to address the issue of happiness. He was solely responsible for classifying different areas of human knowledge including the sciences, mathematics and ethics. In his argument, Aristotle viewed education as a necessary factor in producing a happy society, which would in turn be productive. The paper seeks to compare and contrast arguments to achieve happiness as advanced by both the Greek philosophers Aristotle and Socrates. To start with, Socrates had or relied primarily on the three dialogues of happiness, which consisted of the euthydemus, the symposium and the republic. According to Socrates, the euthydemus sought to describe happiness in two main viewpoints. He described happiness as the goal that all humans seek to aspire since it was a good that was unconditional. The second view was that happiness did not occur solely by having external things but rather on the utilization of those things (Brickhouse, Thomas, and Nicholas, 1987). This argument drives the point that money is just but a good when in the hands of an individual, the way that individual utilizes that money determines hi/her happiness. Ethydemus dialogue argued that human beings achieved happiness depending on the focus and direction they gave material things and not the accumulation of those things. In this view, Socrates brings the aspect of happiness through teachable human effort. In contrast, Aristotle argues that human happiness occurs through perfecting human nature. Thus according to Aristotle, man achieves happiness through perfection and intellectual contemplation of his reason and not through some form of teaching as argued by Socrates (Brickhouse et al., 1987). The symposium dialogue seems to happen in the context of a dinner place giving speeches about Eros, the god of desire and love according to Socrates (Vlastos, 1985). In this view, Socrates argues that Eros is the key helper of humankind in that he cured all evil and brought the greatest happiness in the human race. The main idea that Socrates argued here is that in order to seek happiness, human beings were first to seek divinity. Eros was thus acting as an intermediary between divinity and the way human beings could achieve happiness. Socrates argued that when human beings achieved divinity they could also achieve happiness. He has integrated the idea of beauty and happiness and argued that happiness happened if only human beings saw the real beauty. In the third dialogue of the republic, Socrates argues that a people who are just find happiness than those who are unjust. It was an imperative that if all men sought happiness, then the only to acquire it was to live a just life. In deriving his argument, Socrates also interlinked happiness with pleasure and morality (Vlastos, 1985). Aristotle, on the other hand, argues that happiness is an end in itself (Reeve, 1992). In this argument, Aristotle suggests that people struggle every day to seek wealth, other goods and money. The major reason that man does this is for the sole purpose of seeking happiness and thus an end to itself. In further explaining happiness, Aristotle developed the hierarchy view in nature where he classified nature into minerals, vegetation, animals. In this regard, his argument is that human beings cannot...
References: Brickhouse, Thomas C., and Nicholas D. Smith. "Socrates on goods, virtue, and happiness '." (1987).
Engstrom, Stephen, and Jennifer Whiting, eds. Aristotle, Kant, and the Stoics: Rethinking happiness and duty. Cambridge University Press, 1998.
Irwin, Terence H. "Permanent Happiness: Aristotle and Solon." (1985).
Reeve, Charles David Chanel. "Practices of Reason: Aristotle 's Nicomachean Ethics." (1992).
Vlastos, Gregory. "Happiness and virtue in Socrates ' moral theory." Topoi 4, no. 1 (1985): 3-22.
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