Plato And Aristotle: The Classical Greek Conception Of Happiness

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Classical Greek Conceptions of Happiness The quest for happiness is one that has puzzled humanity since the beginning of time. What makes a person truly and undeniably happy? Is this even possible? Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle all focus on different variations to try to answer these questions. Socrates focuses on the commitment to the virtuous life. He describes six Maxims that explain how virtue can lead to or equate human happiness. Plato follows Socrates’ theory in his dialogue, The Euthyphro, when he discusses piety and virtue and how one goes about defining it. Aristotle varies from his predecessors in the sense that he believes in one highest good. This highest good is the answer to human happiness and how to attain it. The …show more content…
Aristotle believes in one highest good that is the key, or solution, to human happiness. The highest good, by definition, is chosen for itself and self sufficient. Also, by definition, the highest good cannot be pleasure. If pleasure was the highest good, then all pleasures would be good. Since this is not the case, pleasure cannot be the highest good. The highest good is chosen for itself, but if the highest good were pleasure, then all decisions would be made for the sake of pleasure. Aristotle, although not following the Socratic philosophy, does believe that virtue plays a role in human happiness. “The truly happy man is one whose pleasures and pains fit well with he actions of a virtuous man: he gets pleasure out of acting bravely, temperately, generously; and we admire that precisely because he is truly happy.” (p. 169; Lear). As Lear comments on the Aristotelean outlook on happiness, he brings forth the point of a virtuous man being “truly happy”. Similar to Socrates, Aristotle agrees that virtue and the practice of external goodness contributes greatly to a person’s happiness. Aristotle stresses that a person’s function is to be good and do good. “The function of a man to be a certain kind of life, and this to be an activity or actions of the soul implying a logos, and the function of a good man to be the good and noble performance of these”. (Nicomachean Ethics 1.7, 1097b22-1098a20). Every thing has a function that allows it to achieves its highest good, equating in happiness or self fulfillment. Once achieved, it is the Aristotelean belief that true human happiness is

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