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Old 11-18-2007, 04:40 PM   #54
-Ross Hunt
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 166

Originally Posted by Heidi Anschultz View Post
I'm currently reading some of Aristotle's Ethics from a site provided by Stanford University.

I disagree with the statement: "[Aristotle] says, not that happiness is virtue, but that it is virtuous activity. Living well consists in doing something, not just being in a certain state or condition. It consists in those lifelong activities that actualize the virtues of the rational part of the soul."

But then the author of the article says that Aristotle wrote that virtue is to take on material accomplishments. I disagree. Looks, money, and fame do NOT give you happiness. They make life easier for you, but having an easy life is worse than having a hard life. It makes you weak. It makes you depend on your material accomplishments for support. You are, then, not a strong person. You are weakened because your life is easy.

Aristotle is just as biased as any other philosopher. You can't hold him in esteem because his name is famous. I think he coveted money and fame and that made him happy; he also lived in the greco-roman era where education and social status affected whether you ate stale bread and water or drank wine and ate many meals for your evening meal. He lived in the city. And in such an institution as he was in, one needed money and fame to survive or live happily, to merely be able to afford decent food.

Today, food is easily accessed. Just work at any paying job, and you can afford to eat decent, healthful food. Work out and eat healthy, copious amounts of food and you'll become healthy physically. Mentally, you must stress yourself to grow, just like you must stress your muscles for them to grow. And Emotionally, you must be stressed to advance emotionally. College provides much of this stress. But, unfortunately, after college, you get stuck in the rut of life unless you make the effort to constantly teach yourself new things, constantly work out, constantly make every experience a learning experience. A lot of people get this, but not all.

Happiness depends on your health/advancement physically, emotionally, mentally, and socially. Not on wealth, good looks, or status.
I don't think Aristotle disagrees with you about that. He implies that a certain amount of money is a prerequisite to happiness; I don't think anyone would disagree with this. The reason I bring him up is not because he's famous, but because he advances what I think may be missing from your account of happiness. It seems like you're understanding happiness as something that a person possesses in private, by themselves, outside of the context of society; and it seems like you're understanding it as a kind of perpetual increase of strength. Aristotle points out the way in which happiness is on the one hand inextricably bound up with all sorts of involvements--not just property, but more significantly family and friends--and that the kind of satisfaction that one seeks from honor or private moral self-perfection can ultimately prove unsatisfying in comparison to a more contemplative life.

Just another possibility to chew over; the Ethics is a good read.
-Ross Hunt is offline   Reply With Quote