Aristotle And Kant: The Definition Of Happiness

Improved Essays
Register to read the introduction… Once they have asserted that fact, once they have made happiness the most fundamental of all ethical terms, writers like Aristotle or Locke, Aquinas or J. S. Mill, cannot escape the question whether all who seek happiness look for it or find it in the same things.
Holding that a definite conception of happiness cannot be formulated, Kant thinks that happiness fails even as a pragmatic principle of conduct. "The notion of happiness is so indefinite," he writes, "that although every man wishes to attain it, yet he never can say definitely and consistently what it is that he really wishes." He cannot "determine with certainty what would make him truly happy; because to do so he would need to be omniscient." If this is true of the individual, how various must be the notions of happiness which prevail among men in
…show more content…
When a man says "l feel happy" he is saying that he feels pleased or satisfied-that he has what he wants. When men contrast tragedy and happiness, they have in mind the quality a life takes from its end. A tragedy on the stage, in fiction, or in life is popularly characterized as "a story without a happy ending." This expresses the general sense that happiness is the quality of a life which comes out well on the whole despite difficulties and vicissitudes along the way. Only ultimate defeat or frustration is tragic.
There appears to be some conflict here between being happy at a given moment and being happy for a life-time, that is, living happily. It may be necessary to choose between having a good time and leading a good life. Nevertheless, in both uses of the word "happy" there is the connotation of satisfaction. When men say that what they want is happiness, they imply that, having it, they would ask for nothing more. If they are asked why they want to be happy, they find it difficult to give any reason except "for its own sake." They can think of nothing beyond happiness for which happiness serves as a means or a preparation. This aspect of ultimacy or finality appears without qualification in the sense of happiness as belonging to a whole life. There is quiescence, too, in the momentary feeling of happiness, but precisely because it does not last, it leaves another and another such moment to be

Related Documents

  • Decent Essays

    It was private because pleasure was in your head, you your self knew if you were happy or not. It was very different from public because it was not out there for people to see if you were doing well. He thought no pleasure is better, yet he believed bodily pleasures were better. Moreover, he believed we should seek certain types of pleasures. A(ii).Aristippus thinks that real happiness is simply a lifetime of accumulated pleasures, but even though he says that he thinks we should pursue particular pleasures.…

    • 1073 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Improved Essays

    However, how are you happy without knowing you are happy? If the pursuit of happiness is not real then what do you do with your life? Everyone who thought happiness was a good thing, but it only betrayed you. Why are people searching for the meaning of happiness it is like asking what is the meaning of life, but there is no answer, so what is the point of living? Also when you accept your happiness then what do you do now doesn’t that defeat the purpose of living and you would just be satisfied with…

    • 1367 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    In The Treaties of Happiness St.Thomas states that a “man’s happiness consists in God alone.” Happiness being an ultimate end cannot be created.To understand the statement above, it needs to be clear “in what man’s happiness [does not] consists” in and compare it to article 8. Furthermore, the phrase needs to be broken down and see how the objections help St.Thomas' argument. St.Thomas questions and evaluates many types of happiness and where a man thinks he might find it. St.Thomas makes it clear that happiness cannot be found it worldly materials like “ wealth… honor… glory… power” due to it not satisfying a man's desires completely. When it comes to the "body" it cannot correlate with the ultimate end because "one [part of the body] order[s]…

    • 933 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    “Once make them so, and they are immediately felt to be insufficient. They will not bear a scrutinizing examination. Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so.” John S. Mill is saying that when we ask ourselves we might start to leave some room for doubt and question our happiness. He also tells us what the solution is to our doubt on whether we are happy or not, “The only chance is to treat, not happiness, but some end external to it, as the purpose of life.” Mills argument supports itself to be true when finding happiness because he gives a solution to each of the arguments he makes, so if you have disillusioned yourself, follow Mills methods to be…

    • 677 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The achievement is not found intentionally, just like the correct way to life cannot be answered in one way or by doing one thing. Dissatisfaction can turn into satisfaction because faith and happiness is in everyone. Victory is achieved in the conclusion of personal faith or triumph. “If there is a personal fate, there is no higher destiny, or at least there is, but one which he concludes is inevitable and despicable. For the rest, he knows himself to be the master of his days.…

    • 943 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    I follow his argument that nothing on earth can be perfect because it all has an end. Since everything has an end, it cannot be perfect. Humans want to be happy and the things that make them happy here in this life can not be brought into another life. Also, humans want everything to be perfect so the desire for perfection is happiness. With this, it is impossible for true happiness to exist in this life.…

    • 848 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    They would argue that men have no control over how something appears to them or how they perceive it, and that for every man the final end/good/happiness looks differently. Aristotle’s rebuttal to this statement is that the good is something that is eternal, universal, and unchangeable. To understand if Aristotle’s rebuttal to the objector’s argument is correct, the objector’s argument must first be outlined. He does this within book three chapter five of the Nicomachean Ethics. “But some might argue as follows: ‘All men seek what appears good to them, but they have no control over how things appear to them; the end appears different to different men’” (1114b1).…

    • 1319 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Just because people have a fundamental skill set, doesn't mean they want to enhance it to be virtuous, they only focus on doing what they want, and that will make them happy. I believe that he is too narrow with his definition of happiness because he excludes anyone who doesn't have good character traits. There are plenty of rotten people in the world who exhibit either excess or deficiencies that would still consider themselves happy. Happiness is subjective to individuals, everyone’s reason for being happy or happiness level is dependent on what they value. They may not have goals and satisfaction may not be their ultimate goal, so everyone is different.…

    • 857 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    In his book, Mill speaks of many clarifications and objections to his own principle as a way to disregard critics of utilitarianism. Because he is utilitarian, one of the most important clarifications of his idea of happiness that he offers is that it does not matter if one person is unhappy. What matters the most to Mill is that a greater number of are collectively happy. Therefore, the unhappy person would have to sacrifice their own happiness so everyone else can achieve it. Mill also believes that there is no such thing as true happiness because happiness cannot be achieved without a little pain.…

    • 1325 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    More Than Happiness In this paper I will argue happiness isn’t the sole component of the quality of our lives. In contrary, hedonists believe happiness is the single thing that is intrinsically valuable (Shafer-Landau, FE p22). In this view, anything that makes you happy is valuable. Anything that makes you unhappy is unvaluable. “According to hedonists, a life is good to the extent that it is filled with pleasure and is free of pain (Shafer-Landau, FE p22).” Pleasure here is not physical pleasure rather attitudinal pleasure.…

    • 960 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays