Compare And Contrast Aristotle And Agustine On Happiness

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The philosophers Aristotle and Augustine both wrote extensively on what they believed happiness was and how to achieve the good life. However, both prolific thinkers had differing opinions on achieve this goal. For example, Aristotle believed that the path to the good life was obtained through reason; whereas Augustine believed that it was obtained through Scripture and Divine Revelation because God’s grace helps one to achieve the good life, but reason alone is not enough to get that. In Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle shares his belief that the way to a good life, which he refers to as happiness, is achieved through reason. He says that happiness is “something complete and self-sufficient, since it is the end of what is doable in action” …show more content…
To reach happiness, Augustine says that a person needs to have God’s grace, which they are not able to obtain on their own. In this way, Augustine tells his audience, that human reason is not enough to reach happiness. Augustine uses his own life as an example of how a person can earn God’s grace: a sin, or a bad habit, which leads to despondency, leading to feelings of helplessness and guilt. At the lowest moment in his life, Augustine was finally able to realize that he had made all the wrong decisions in his life, beginning around the time that he stole pears from an innocent neighbor for no reason other than to steal them, and he finally turned to God’s grace. Then he repented, and he was able to perform contrition for all the things that he had done before he had received God’s grace. For Augustine, the sacred Scripture played a significant role in his conversion and acceptance of God’s grace in his life. After Augustine had been contemplating his poor life choices, he had opened the Bible and read the first passage that he saw, which told him to convert and Augustine immediately did so. After his conversion to Catholicism, he lost all the fears and doubt about God and the differences between good and evil that he had been harboring inside of …show more content…
Like Augustine said, a person cannot totally rely on reason to help them achieve happiness. From a religious perspective, God is all-powerful, so we need his help to obtain overall happiness in our life. However, this does not mean that reason is completely disregarded. Aristotle argues that steps can be taken to ensure a happier life, through our moral growth and whether we chose to live our lives in moderation with the virtues that he sets forth or not. However, a fault with Aristotle’s thinking concerning his theory on moral growth is that he almost assumes that everyone wants to become a better person. However, we need only to look at those who repeatedly commit crimes today to know that not every moves up in their moral growths. Additionally, Aristotle’s thinking is limited because he was an elite member of society in his day, or a member of the hoi aristoi. He believed that everyone else in the hoi polloi would want to be more “noble” and virtuous like the members of the hoi aristoi, which also may not have been the case. Finally, both philosophers have radically differing opinions on friendship and how it relates to happiness in our lives. While Augustine’s concerns regarding the influence that friends have on sinfulness are valid, I think that Aristotle’s beliefs are more legitimate.

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