Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics on How to Live One's Life

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In the history of early philosophy, there were 3 prominent views on how to live one's life. These were presented by Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics. Plato, presenting the most simple of the three, believed that one should direct their life towards virtue, morality, and harmony of the soul. Explaining himself in his work Gorgias, Plato has Socrates and Polus talking to each other about the relation between happiness and wrong doing. Polus answers yes, happiness and wrong doing go together. Furthering his answer, Polus describes how a happy man is a powerful man. This powerful man can do whatever he wants. The example used by Polus is he can murder others, but does not get imprisoned for it. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Socrates answers no. Plato’s belief is expressed through Socrates. Socrates states that the only things that matter in life are virtue and morality. Nothing else, like wealth or power, truly matter for a happy person. For Socrates, a happy person is a moral person. He also believes that it is better to suffer than to do a wrong to another person. Plato also expresses his views in Book 2 of The Republic through the story of The ring of Gyges. In this story, there are two men, each with a magic ring. One man is a just man while the other is found to be unjust. The just man decides to not use the rings power, which would allow the man to become invisible and do whatever he wants to do. However, the unjust man decides to use this power, but is caught up in his actions and is not happy ultimately. The just man, since not using the ring, is happy because he is in control of himself and did the virtuous action of not becoming invisible to benefit himself. Plato is clearly arguing for the just m... ... middle of paper ... ...t have the external good of health. As seen, only the virtue is necessary, yet the family and friends helped. If a person does a virtuous action with the right intention, then this is what will make them happy. Even if this action does not end up great, as somehow their action turns into a negative, their positive intention will still keep them happy. A virtuous action without the positive intent will not make anyone happy, but will only temporarily satisfy them. A perfect example of this would be a wealthy man donating money, only for tax purposes. They give the money to help themselves and do not care about how this money will not help others. By this motive behind, they do not have a positive intention for their virtuous action. This wealthy man may have the money, family, friends, and health, but does not have the virtue, so will never truly be happy.

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