- May 28, 2020
Plato’sperception of eudaimonism appears to be more comprehensive andjustifiable than Aristotle’s because it does not contradict anyelement of what constitutes happiness for humanity.
Happiness for humanity is the purpose and ultimate end of existence.
Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure, but it is the outcome of exercising virtue.
One cannot achieve happiness until life comes to an end. It means that happiness is not a part of life but a goal.
Eudaimonia is the ability to perfect human nature, and because man is in a way an intellectual animal, his happiness is revealed by the implementation of purpose.
It come when one acquires moral characters and demonstrates the virtues of generosity, courage, and justice. They entail creating a balance between extremes.
Happiness for humanity is the greatest purpose of ethical conduct.
A happy human tends to have a strong soul and can regulate his or her desires and appetites for immorality.
The core factor of morality as a component of virtuousness is putting it to action.
Apart from making people to care for the happiness of others, eudaimonia also entails the realization of the meaning of life.
Plato explains the three important parts of the soul including spirit, reason, and appetite. Each of these has a distinct object of target.
III.Why Plato is justified
Happiness occurs spontaneously when one is able to show concern for others.
Living a moral life is vital and is an acceptable reason for happiness.
Whoever lacks a philosophical mind will automatically lack the ability to control the desires for pleasure.
Plato’s way of linking rational life and happiness makes anyone to understand what eudaimonia is all about.
IV.Why Aristotle is unjustified
Aristotle fails to realize that the virtue of goodness is never an adopted state, but humans must naturally be able to act in coherence with moral standards.
No one may be able to overcome the attraction of momentary gratification, which he campaigns against.
For one to nurture a good character, he or she is forced to have willingness and strength to act in the right manner even when confronted with dire challenges
Being perfect forces one to be loyal to personal instinct even in cases where it can be deceiving.
TheEthics of Plato and Aristotle
Toexplore the idea of eudaimonism, Aristotle and Plato formulated setsof moral principles related with happiness for humanity. They appliedthe principles of morality and assessed how the values could governindividuals or groups. Their primary reason for adopting the idea ofmorality was because of its importance as a virtue. Regardless of thesignificant dissimilarities in Aristotle and Plato’s view ofmorality, some ideas make them comparable. Both of them seem to havesimilar assumptions regarding various topics. However, while Platoappears to focus more on morality in action, Aristotle shows concernon the theoretical meaning of the virtue. For both Aristotle andPlato, good leads to happiness. Nonetheless, Plato’s understandingof the concept of eudaimonism makes him more believable thanAristotle (Kraut). As opposed to Aristotle’s single sided view,Plato notes that eudaimonism is composed of three parts: first isliving harmoniously with one’s ego, second is being truthful toself, and third is that happiness comes with self-accomplishment. Theidea behind Plato’s interpretation is that happiness is onlyachievable through the implementation of certain cardinal virtues.The standard and broadly acknowledged meaning of eudaimonism is thatit is a philosophy that leads to the utmost goal of morality, whichis happiness for humanity. Plato’s perception of eudaimonismappears to be more comprehensive and justifiable than Aristotle’sbecause it does not contradict any element of what constituteshappiness for humanity.
Platobelieves in a virtue-oriented eudaemonistic concept of happiness. Inother words, happiness for humanity is the greatest purpose ofethical conduct, and there is the need for positive dispositions andvirtues to attain good. Plato`s view of happiness is elaborate andrelates significantly with ordinary views. In his attempt to correctthe traditional values, Plato developed a better account ofhappiness. In this account, Plato perceives the aspect ofeudaimonism as a way of accomplishment. He tends to confine himselfto allusions of various facets of what is moral for the soul(Kraut).He sees eudaimonism as a satisfactory state of anindividual’s mind.
InPlato`s view, people need to be moral as the only way to realizingtrue happiness. His discussion on eudaimonism centers on the fourbasic virtues including courage, wisdom, justice, and moderation. Inthis case, wisdom has a direct link with understanding. As Platosuggests, the intelligent individuals use their minds to comprehendmoral sanity and then incorporate it into their daily lives. The wisepersons are directed by wisdom in the choices they make. Similarly,courage is revealed when humans face misfortunes. It involves braverythat comes with convictions whenever one is caught up in abattlefield. In reality, Plato`s tutor, Socrates, opted to dieinstead of sacrificing his conviction (Haybron). Most probably, thiscould be the reason that made Plato to have a detailed idea regardingmorality.
Asper Plat’s view, moderation, including temperance and self-control,has a direct relation with human desires. People have divergentneeds, and Plato acknowledges this as a good phenomenon. Problemsonly arise when individuals wish for good things but in the wrongways. Plato advises that human must not let longings for sex, food,and alcohol control their personalities in a manner that tends tocompromise character. As a result, for Plato, happiness has a directrelation with one`s character. A happy individual tends to have astrong soul that which can control desire and appetites forimmorality (Haybron). An ethical individual is satisfied, in harmonywith self, and justly happy.
Plato`sphilosophy shows that the basic component of morality as a virtue isputting it to action. He tends to disregard the theories that revieweudaimonism as an ideology that reduces morality to egotism. Platostates that apart from being associated with feelings, eudaimonism isalso a state of personality, as well as the life which one leads. Theimplication is that eudaimonism is multidimensional. The harmoniousexistence of the soul is crucial for an individual because it offerswellness to every part of the body. Thus, one’s soul has the mostparamount factor for achieving happiness. Still, Plato remindspeople not to ignore the ways through which harmony in the heart isconnected with peace of the community. As a result, morality in one’ssoul is made public when an individual is able to exercise it. As aphilosopher who understood the importance of ruling one’s soul,Plato was able to explain why morality is a virtue (Hursthouse).Therefore, since being virtuous entails practicing only what isconsidered to be good, it calls for everyone to make attempts towardsliving a happy life. In this view, eudaimonia involves caring forthe happiness of others and realizing the meaning of life.
ForPlato, the soul has three important parts. Each of these componentshas a special object of aspiration. The first part is reason which ispreoccupied with the wellness of an individual and truth. Secondly,there is the spirit which desires honor and good values. Lastly,appetite links the first two parts and has the tastes for drink, sex,and food. The soul is believed to be the source of intellect and whenone believes in it, chances of misjudgment are rare. Accordingly, thegood state of the soul entails more than merely intellectualexcellence. For one to be happy, there must be cognitive harmony acondition where all the three parts work properly and together.Therefore, reason allows one to acknowledge good and desire it forself-realization (Hursthouse). One’s appetite and spirit arestimulated by things that seem good and moral.
UnlikePlato, Aristotle suggests that happiness is determined by oneself.Nonetheless, he also views happiness as a goal and a primary aimhuman life. Yet, he dedicates much space and time to the theme ofhappiness more than any other philosopher in his era. He lived duringa period when people held similar thoughts regarding morality, but heseemed to be on the opposite side of belief. To be precise, forAristotle, happiness relies on one’s ability to cultivate goodvirtues. Though his concept of virtue is to some extent morepersonal, most of Aristotle’s principles are related to those ofConfucians. As evidenced, Aristotle had the conviction that anhonestly happy life called for the self-actualization throughphysical and mental wellness. In this perspective, he was able tointroduce the theory of science of pleasure. Basically, Aristotlecontends that morality is attained by upholding a balance between twoextremes. His principle of a sense of balance is significant forachieving happiness even in the most challenging situations. For him,the balance is a strategy of realizing virtue (Haybron). It is anonviolent way of life that reduces self-denial and desire forsensual pleasure. When one has achieved happiness, there is littledifficulty in leading a reflective life, which is a basis of moralityin itself.
Inone of his most authoritative works, Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotlepresents the philosophy of happiness and explains why it will berelevant for many years to come. In this work, he seeks to bring tolight the ultimate reason for humanity and the final goal for whichpeople need to direct every activity. He is troubled by the fact thatpeople tend to seek wealth, good reputation, and pleasure but do nothave a goal for all these. Even though each of them has certainvalues, none of them seems to aim at anything. To be focused at aneventual end, every act needs to be self-supporting and destinationoriented. It must be that which is at all times desiredindependently. More importantly, every act must be that which isachievable by individuals (Hursthouse). Aristotle asserts that it isonly happiness that in the end satisfies all these.
ForAristotle, it is disappointing that people desire to have wealth,honor, and pleasure just because they think that these are what canmake one happy. However, he sees these as just means of attainingtemporary happiness, and one should not become content before the endcomes. Aristotle also notes that happiness is the ability of aperson to perfect his or her nature. Because humans are rationalanimals, happiness for them relies on their capacity to exercisereason. In this view, happiness is the exercise of morality.Similarly, he reasons that Happiness relies on one’s way ofacquiring moral characters and displaying the virtues of generosity,courage, friendship, and justice (Parry).
Therefore,for Aristotle, happiness needs to be the ultimate point and goal foran individual’s existence. It is not a matter that can be obtainedor lost in any way as it happens with the sensation of pleasure. Itis, in a way, the ultimate worth of life as one lives up to the end.It measures how well an individual attains full potentials as humanbeings. Consequently, one must not make any declarations regardingwhether they have lived a happy and fulfilling life up until the timeit is concluded. It is likened to the game of football where a teammay not be happy to have scored the first goal unless they maintainthe win to the end of the event. In this view, Aristotle argues thatchildren‘s happiness is not justified because they have not livedto the full potential of a human being, and have not flourished to bepronounced happy. Aristotle gives the analogy of seasons (Parry). Hesays that since a single day cannot make up spring, a short time inlife should not make a man feel happy and blessed.
Aristotlenotes that humans have a unique function of reasoning. It is throughperception that people attain their ultimate goals, get solution tochallenges, and therefore live a qualitatively unique life thatwhich is different from the case of animals and plants. Heunderstands that what is good for animals is different from thatwhich is satisfactory for humans because people have uniquepotentialities or capacities. Humans have intellectual capacities,and it is only through exercising it that they can perfect theirmorals (Haybron). As a result, pleasure may not solely lead to humanhappiness. For the case of animals, pleasure is enough to make themhappy because they have comparatively lower intellectual capacities.For this reason, Aristotle advises people that their goal should notoverwhelm their physical desires. Nonetheless, they need to channelthe goals in ways that appear suitable for their nature as sensibleanimals.
Aristotleidentifies intellectual meditation as yet another activity thatpeople need to be involved for them to be truly happy. Becausehumans’ character needs to be rational and sensible, the definitiveperfection of their nature must be rational thinking. It implies thatthe possession of a logical inquisitiveness begins in childhood butdisappears soon afterward. In Aristotle’s view, education needs todeal with the refinement of personality. It should involve boththeoretical and practical components. The practical feature is theattainment of ethical characters, while the theoretical aspect iswhat leads to an individual with philosophical ability (Parry). Eventhough the rational capacity has no concrete rewards, the criticalquestioning, that is a common factor of philosophy, makes human mindto be more focused on how to make the world better.
Pointsthat Make Plato Justifiable
First,Plato confirms that in realizing happiness, an individual mustportray love and avoid extreme desires. His argument is true becausehappiness occurs automatically when a person is able to showcompassion and not dangerous longings. After all, an individual’sthought is always rooted in a form of spiritual component. Peoplemust understand that the nature of morality is inborn. Whenever it isrevealed, one automatically becomes happy. Therefore, it gives theimpression that Plato’s interpretation of realizing happiness isprocedural than that of Aristotle (Kraut). On the other hand,Aristotle’s opinion is more metaphysical than that of Plato.
Secondly,In light of Plato’s conclusions, there is a valid philosophicalexplanation about the relation between happiness and the good. Inother words, living a good life is important and is an adequatereason for happiness. It is never possible for anyone to have a goodlife and not be happy with it. It is a philosophical account due tothe fact that a majority of theorists have divergent ideas regardingthe good and happiness (Hursthouse). Every philosopher relates thetwo with a focus on moral thoughts and proper reasoning.
Third,because Plato recommends the rational life as the best and thehappiest, he has the capacity to explain for anyone what happiness isall about. Moreover, his traditionalistic philosophicalinterpretation is just because it allows people to look at theoutcomes of wealth, fame, power, sensual pleasure, and glory beforecondemning (Kraut).
Fourth,as noted, most disasters tend to happen to individuals who have anuncontrolled desire for a good life without having any form of moralgoals. It is true because whoever lacks a reflective mind is alwaysnaturally short of the ability to control desires for pleasure. Theultimate end of such individuals is normally disastrous events.Furthermore, Plato makes logics because wisdom for attaininghappiness in life is only possible when the good is seen as a virtue(Parry).
Pointsthat make Aristotle Unjustifiable
Thefirst aspect that makes Aristotle’s conclusions mistaken is how helinks the virtue of good and the concept of happiness. He states thatthe most crucial phenomenon is the ability to attain happiness, andit only happens through moral characters what he refers to ascomprehensive virtue. However, Aristotle fails to understand that thevirtue of good is never cultivatable, but humans have the obligationto act in line with moral standards. Besides, it is not possible forone to have all the virtues at once because people have differentviews about life (Parry).
Secondly,Aristotle ardently condemns the principle of momentary satisfaction,which appears to dominate in the current society. He notes that inorder to realize the life of happiness, people need to follow theright path, which involves only looking at the future’s ultimateresults after life comes to an end. It means that no human being mayachieve happiness because life ends when one stops living. The samereason is what makes people to be predisposed to adore the desires ofthe moment (Parry). No one is able to overcome the temptation ofmomentary gratification.
Third,according to Aristotle’s conclusions, happiness involves attaining,throughout one’s lifetime, every sort of virtue including wealth,good health, friends, and knowledge. When humans are left with nochoice but to live according to the views of Aristotle, they mayencounter problems because they will be forced to be completelyperfect. It is an innate human nature not to be faultless, andoccasional flaws and desires for instant gratification are what makesone complete. Time and again, the slightly good experiences tend totempt humans to express immediate pleasure. Attaining an ultimategood appears to be unbearable and needs sacrifice (Hursthouse). Thatis to say, nurturing a good character needs strength and willingnessto act in the right way even when faced with dire challenges.
Lastly,Aristotle centers his notions of happiness and virtue in hisphilosophy regarding human nature. His assumption is that everyonehas the capacity to understand the function of humanity. The argumentis misleading because it deviates from the principle of fact-valuemerit. Aristotle’s account is intended to be subjective and doesnot provide the root of excellence. Therefore, the difference betweenPlato’s moral theory and Aristotle’s concerns whatever isconsidered as a neutral account of humanity. In this way, the conceptthat the virtue of goodness is the result of perfection of anindividual’s nature seems to form the basis of Aristotle’sarguments (Hursthouse). Obviously, being perfect calls for theability to remain loyal to instinct even when it is wrong anddeceitful about the future.
Aristotlereasons that happiness is the eventual end final reason for humanexistence, and it does not entail pleasure. Unlike Plato, Aristotlebelieves that happiness is not a virtue because it cannot be attainedover a short period of time. He believes that one cannot achievehappiness until life comes to an end. Therefore, it is not atransitory state but a goal. However, he fails to consider that thesevirtues should come before one strikes a balance between extremes. Onthe other hand, Plato, Aristotle`s tutor, has much to explainregarding eudaimonism, virtue, and morality. He states that thepurpose of human beings is to live noble kind of life, that whichmakes them happy. Plato is right because even in a logical framework,the purpose of a good person is his ability to act in a principledway and to become happy instead of waiting for life to come to anend. Just like the modern society demands, Plato also reasons thatevery action needs to be well performed and be in accordance with thestandard level of excellence. Evidently, happiness is an expressionof what is in the soul, and how one desires to act in order to livein harmony with virtue.
Haybron,Dan, "Happiness", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,Edward N. Zalta (ed.), (Fall 2012 Edition) Nov 20th,2016.
Hursthouse,Rosalind, "Virtue Ethics", The Stanford Encyclopedia ofPhilosophy, Edward N. Zalta (ed.), (Fall 2013 Edition) Nov 20th,2016.
Kraut,Richard, "Aristotle`s Ethics", The Stanford Encyclopedia ofPhilosophy, Edward N. Zalta (ed.), (Spring 2016 Edition) Nov 20th,2016.
Parry,Richard, "Ancient Ethical Theory", The StanfordEncyclopedia of Philosophy, Edward N. Zalta (ed.), (Fall 2014Edition) Nov 20th,2016.