Goal of Life

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Highly influential in subsequent philosophy, the Hellenistic period is best known as the development and propagation of Greek culture and ideas in the ancient world (CITATION). Various approaches emerged to encompass popular ideas including wide-ranging schools such as Aristotle's Lyceum, Plato's Academy, and the Hellenistic schools. These methods touched upon numerous issues of reality, knowledge and nature that expanded to include the idea of attaining happiness, eudaimonia. This concept refers to the humanistic goals of achieving the "good life" or "highest human good" during one's life on Earth. With the common objective of acquiring this purpose, each school contains its own conceptions in comprehending what the “goal of life” truly is and in securing this ultimate happiness.

Of the Hellenistic schools of thought, Epicurus' (341-270 BCE) Epicureanism and Zeno of Citium's (334-363 BCE) Stoic system uniquely addresses this notion of the "goal of life." Epicureanism adopted Democritus' (460 BC-370 BC) Atomistic views and proposes that the human goal is to "maximize the pleasantness of life" through the state of tranquility (Long and Sedley 6). This state of mind involves the elimination of mental and bodily pains to satisfy one's natural and necessary desires (Long and Sedley 6-7). These teachings highly impacted many societal groups into living simply as it is considered more beneficial than living extravagantly (Long and Sedley 125). In contrast, Socrates and Aristotle's influence on the Stoic system presumes the notion of peace of mind with an indifference to concepts between the spectrum of true good and absolute evil (Long and Sedley 7). Cosmos play a large part in the indifference by being governed by an encompassing law...

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...s– solely for the sake of happiness for oneself, not for their own sake (Long and Sedley 125, iepm). Ultimately, these virtues are forms intended for one’s own best interest. In understanding the use of virtues, it allows an individual to realize the natural limits of their desires and to eliminate fears of pain and death. In doing so, this changes one’s perspective in what is important for self-perseverance and in acting selflessly it removes hate and jealously and induces ignorance in self-indulgent materials and provokes generosity. Much like humans today, actions done by an individual is done for one’s happiness and pleasure. However, studies have shown that material objects and luxurious desires do not compel long-term happiness, but is found that selfless acts such as volunteering, charity, and living simply induces happiness and greater success (Shawn Achor).
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