Aristotle And John Stuart Mill: The Concepts Of A Happy Life

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The concept of what defines and constitutes a happy existence has been at the core of philosophical questions for centuries. Two famous philosophers, Aristotle and John Stuart Mill, constructed theories on the definition of happiness and what facilitates a happy life. On one hand, Aristotle encourages living an actively rational and virtuous life to achieve happiness. On the other, Mill believes that living a pleasurable life will result in happiness. Although Aristotle and Mill have different understandings of happiness, the concept plays a central role in both of their moral theories. Initially, Aristotle establishes that happiness, or eudaimonia, is the highest good, or ultimate telos, of each person’s life because happiness is an end …show more content…
If this is the case, and we state the function of man to be a certain kind of life, and this to be an activity or actions of the soul implying a rational principle, and the function of a good man to be the good and noble performance of these, and if any action is well performed when it is performed in accordance with the appropriate excellence: if this is the case, human good turns out to be activity of the soul in accordance with virtue, and if there are more than one virtue, in accordance with the best and most complete (6-8).
Despite the fact that an individual can claim a virtuous character, Aristotle clearly indicates that virtue is not a passive state, but rather an “activity of the soul.” By this, he means that a virtuous character is developed through constant practice and habit. He emphasizes that one must be actively rational in accordance with virtue to achieve the supreme
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Essentially, Mill asserts that utility is pleasure itself with the absence of pain and therefore, utility can also be called the Greatest Happiness Principle. He elaborates, “The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, Utility, or the Greatest Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure, and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain, and the privation of pleasure” (10). In this case, pleasure and the absence of pain are the only inherently right morals in life because all other pleasurable desires are either pleasurable in themselves or act as a means to promote pleasure. However, he qualifies his argument of happiness by claiming that pleasures can differ in quality. Mill explains that human pleasures are superior to animalistic pleasures and given the choice, a person will always choose the higher quality pleasure. Generally, higher quality pleasures would be more intellectual whereas lower quality pleasures would be physical or sensual. He continues by stating how a higher quality pleasure is distinguished from a lower quality pleasure: a person will choose a higher quality pleasure over a different one even when the former is accompanied by

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