Is life really about the ‘money’, the ‘cash’, the ‘hoes’, who has the biggest gold chain or who drives the shiniest or fastest car, who sells the most albums or who has the most respect? Aristotle challenges views, which are similar to the ones held and shown by rap artists such as Jay-Z and the Notorious B.I.G., by observing that everything in the universe, including humans, has a goal in life. He states that the goal of a human life is to achieve happiness. I believe that Aristotle is completely correct in his reasoning of the purpose of human nature. He even explains how happiness is different for every person, and each different type of person has a different idea of happiness. In my opinion, a person must do all things in moderation, not doing the excess but at the same time doing just enough. Aristotle argued that the goal of human beings is happiness, and that we achieve happiness when we fulfill our function. Therefore, it is necessary to determine what our function is. The function of a thing, is what it alone can do, or what it can do best. Like the function of the eye is to see, the human being is a “rational animal” whose function is to reason. Thus, a happy life for human beings is a life governed by reason. Many psychologists believe that a person who has difficulty behaving ethically is morally imperfect. An ideal person practices moderation. Robert Epstein, as quoted in Psychology today, says that this moral virtue, of which happiness comes from, is a matter of avoiding extremes in behavior and finding the mean between them. Epstein conceives happiness not primarily as an exercise of virtue in private or with friends, but as the exercise of virtue in governing an ideal state. Hence, a person who acts for his or her own good must also act for the good of all fellow citizens. Honor, pleasure, and wealth are the things believed to make people happy. Honor is superficial because it can be taken away at any moment. Aristotle said pleasure was enjoyable but that it is more an animal quality than human, and that wealth is merely a means towards a greater good. He taught moderation, and that these three vices could be pursued but not as an all-encompassing goal. Aristotle felt that through the four qualities of wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice, a person could be led to happiness.
I agree with Aristotle’s reasoning on how happiness is achieved and why it is the goal of human life, as we know it. He supports his point with so many examples that you realize that he is completely right. His stressing of the importance of moral virtues as the key to happiness and a successful government is brilliant. His messages of virtue and moderation transcend time and still are a great influence on modern thought. However, another view, as explained by Robert Epstein, is that the quest for happiness is probably overrated and is, ironically, the cause of much unhappiness. People try to find happiness, and in their search cannot really define, or find it, making them disappointed and lost.
Happiness to me is complete love and understanding of the being that you are, and the soul that you have. When a person understands the purpose of their life, they are content, and therefore, happy.
Psychology Today Online; Robert Epstein: Happiness Reexamined. Issue: January 2001
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