Essay on Human Happiness And External Goods

Essay on Human Happiness And External Goods

Length: 2347 words (6.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Ashley Janowiak
Human Happiness and External goods
Happiness is a goal every human pursues, yet the ways in which it is pursued differs amongst people. Some believe prosperity will bring them happiness. Others believe material, power, fame, success, or love will bring them happiness. No matter what one believes is the right way to conquer this goal, every person will take their own unique path in an attempt to find it. But what is happiness? Happiness is often viewed as a subjective state of mind in which one may say they are happy when they are on vacation with friends, spending time with their family, or having a cold beer on the weekend while basking in the sun. However, Aristotle and the Stoics define happiness much differently. In Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle describes happiness as “something final and self-sufficient, and is the end of action” (NE 1097b20). In this paper, I will compare and contrast Aristotle and the Stoics’ view on human happiness. Aristotle argues that bodily and external goods are necessary to happiness, while Epictetus argues they are not. I will contend that Epictetus’ outlook on happiness is more consistent than Aristotle’s because Aristotle’s view is contradictory, while Epictetus’ view on the role of external goods is adequate. One does not need external goods to be happy, because in the long term they become obsolete.
I would like to begin by further discussing what happiness is according to Aristotle. People tend to view happiness as emotion, but to Aristotle happiness is not emotion. Emotion is a temporary state and happiness is something that perseveres. Happiness is something that is self-sufficient and cannot easily be lost. He thinks happiness is the goal of goals, which means th...


... middle of paper ...


...ll-rounded and balanced life and believe that Aristotle’s means to find happiness could suffice, but I strongly disagree with his thought that only those with sufficient external goods are capable of being happy. I believe that every human being is capable of achieving happiness, even the ugly, the poor, and the childless. The Stoics have a stronger case in showing that external goods are not necessary because we can’t control them. It makes more sense to focus only on the things we have the power to change. Epictetus says, “There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will” (Epictetus). External goods can be lost, damaged, and destroyed, but the soul, in which we have the power to control, will only die when we do. External goods hold no importance, because in the long run they will become obsolete.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on The Dignity Of Human Life

- My grandmother always says, “You kids better stop fooling around, you are the future”. In Swenson’s article titled “The Dignity of Human Life”, He takes a more religious approach and argues that the true meaning of life is for one to be happy, and to achieve happiness one has to get to know themselves through their values through an ethical conscious. He starts off with “As a preparation for an existence, in the present, the youth of a nation are trained in various skills and along devious lines, according to their capacities and circumstances…But, in addition to this, which we may call a preparation for the external life, a something else is urgently needed” (Swenson 17)....   [tags: Meaning of life, Human, Happiness, Life]

Strong Essays
874 words (2.5 pages)

Essay on The True Happiness Is Activity That Expresses Virtue

- In the First Book of The Ethics, Aristotle states that “true happiness is activity that expresses virtue.” This idea is expressed that happiness is a state of being, which the world around said mind cannot contribute to this state of being. However, happiness defined during his time is more about achieving and being able to fulfill these virtues and not only look at the instant gratifications in life, such as pleasures in only material form. Happiness seems to be Aristotle’s reason that people tend to aim and “hence the good has been well described as that at which everything aims.” (23, Aristotle) Aristotle saw that neither notions toward happiness, such as wealth, honor or other ordinary p...   [tags: Plato, Mind, Ethics, Human]

Strong Essays
813 words (2.3 pages)

An Ethical Life Is A Fact About Human Life Essay

- Striving for happiness is a fact about human life. It is considered one of the main goals of our life. Happiness is achieved when one flourishes, lives, and does well. An ethical life is a happy life. To lead an ethical life is to consider the happiness of others and to value yourself. Everyone desires to be fulfilled, but there is no point of being happy if our actions or intentions are bad. In order to achieve the life of complete virtue, we need to make the right choices and decisions. In an ethical life, it is vital that one considers the happiness of everyone to achieve their contentment....   [tags: Ethics, Morality, Happiness, Virtue]

Strong Essays
1127 words (3.2 pages)

The Nichomachean Conception of Happiness Essay

- Happiness, to Aristotle, is a term for which much exactitude must be made. He understands that, "Happiness both the refined and the few call it, but about the nature of this Happiness, men dispute." As such, he goes to great lengths to attain a fairly accurate accounting of what he sees as Happiness. He begins by illustrating that Happiness is an End, establishes what he finds the work of Man to be, sets conditions on being happy, and then explains where in Man the cultivation of Happiness is to be sought....   [tags: Philosophy Essays]

Strong Essays
1302 words (3.7 pages)

Essay about Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics: Happiness

- From pursuing pleasure to avoiding pain, life seems to ultimately be about achieving happiness. However, how to define and obtain happiness has and continues to be a widely debated issue. In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle gives his view on happiness. Aristotle focuses particularly on how reason, our rational capacity, should help us recognize and pursue what will lead to happiness and the good life.';(Cooley and Powell, 459) He refers to the soul as a part of the human body and what its role is in pursuing true happiness and reaching a desirable end....   [tags: Nicomachean Ethics Essays]

Free Essays
1043 words (3 pages)

How Aristotle Understands the Human Being Essay

- In what ways does Aristotle present the human being. In this paper I will interpret how Aristotle understands the human being. In the first part of this paper I will explain the concept of the human telos. In the second part I will present how Aristotle defines knowledge the four causes in his theory. In the third part I will round off the idea of a human being according to Aristotle. In the fourth part I will explain the four causes in Aristotle’s theory. Finally, I will disclose with two types of virtues presented in the theory....   [tags: virtue ethics, philosophical analysis]

Strong Essays
766 words (2.2 pages)

Aristotle's Theory of the Good Life Essay

- According to Aristotle, the good life is the happy life, as he believes happiness is an end in itself. In the Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle develops a theory of the good life, also known as eudaimonia, for humans. Eudaimonia is perhaps best translated as flourishing or living well and doing well. Therefore, when Aristotle addresses the good life as the happy life, he does not mean that the good life is simply one of feeling happy or amused. Rather, the good life for a person is the active life of functioning well in those ways that are essential and unique to humans....   [tags: Aristotle, happiness, eudaimonia]

Strong Essays
961 words (2.7 pages)

Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle Essay

- An Exposition of Aristotelian Virtues In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle explores virtues as necessary conditions for being happy. A virtuous person is a person with a disposition toward virtuous actions and who derives pleasure from behaving virtuously. Aristotle distinguishes between two types of human virtue: virtues of thought and virtues of character. Virtues of thought are acquired through learning and include virtues like wisdom and prudence; virtues of character include bravery and charity, which are acquired by habituation and require external goods to develop....   [tags: virtue, action, happiness]

Strong Essays
1456 words (4.2 pages)

Essay Affluenza: Buying Unnecessary Items

- Have you ever felt like you are spending too much money at a time, on pointless items. Statistics show that American’s consumption rate of goods has increased by forty-five percent in the last twenty years (Statistics-Consumption/quality of life pg. 194). Americans are experiencing a thing that is many times known as “Affluenza”, this is when someone buys more items, such as clothes, cars, houses, or any unnecessary items. Many people talk about this so-called “Affluenza”, like it is a medical term....   [tags: American tendencies, the pursuit of happiness]

Strong Essays
871 words (2.5 pages)

The Value Of A Person Completes A College Degree Essay

- achieved. So for example, when a person completes a college degree, we can assume that the person is going to be significantly happier with himself or herself because a value has just been gained. But no matter what the size of the value is the basic principle is the same: gaining values is what results in happiness. Aristotle observed that external goods are necessary for eudemonia, and he was right. A person cannot truly grow and become better with the absence of material goods, even if those material goods are not many....   [tags: Happiness, Personal life, Eudaimonia, Sociology]

Strong Essays
1698 words (4.9 pages)