Analysis of the Contrasting Concepts of Happiness of Aristotle and Epicurus

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While ancient Greece brought forth a variety of influential contributions to the western civilizations, one of its most notable donations was the philosophy. Ideas of in which we think about the world, universe and society were up-roared within these ancient times. It was during this time where men like Aristotle and Epicurus begun to shape the world with their notions of study.

Aristotle was born in the northern region of Greece in 384 B.C. where his father was the physician to the king. Aristotle spent nearly two decades in Plato’s Institution eventually starting his own school in Athens. He took a particular turn to the biological entities, which was unlike Plato. Quite frankly, he grew up to disagree with Plato almost entirely. Nevertheless, Aristotle throughout his lectures came to ask what the “Supreme good for man” was. Then came this idea of eudemonia commonly known as happiness present day. For Aristotle, happiness was rounded about several ideas. Overall, happiness is a final good that every person hopes to grasp. Aristotle contributes the idea that complete happiness will occur with a fulfilling human function that is aided by virtuous acts. While good health, good friends, and family could ultimately allow for happiness in ones life, Aristotle never equates pleasure with such being. For Aristotle pleasure is something of only momentary value whereas he believes such feeling of happiness is a feeling that must last much longer. Happiness rather constitutes the function of the man. If we were to live our lives with the goal of simply breathing, then we would be unhappy. Our function as people is to be rational. It is of course this rationality that distinguishes us from farm animals and allows us to be everything we can be. This will only happen if you take on certain challenges that establish your skills and develop your capacities demonstrating reason. As for Aristotle, happiness is the ultimate end and purpose for ones existence. It cannot be achieved until ones end of life hence it being a goal and not temporary status. This just gives further evidence to us being teleological beings that find excellence structured with function.

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On the contrary, Epicurus was another great Greek philosopher who had a different notion on happiness. Epicurus supported the idea that pleasure and lack of pain can contribute to a complete happiness. Life is indeed pleasure-full when the mid is free from fears and the body is content with satisfactions according to Epicurus. He presents us with a tetropharmakos. Included are the notions of not fearing the gods as to gods are perfect and happy and would not hurt people. To not worry about death as while people exist death is not present, but while death is present, people aren’t present. What is good is easy to get. These natural desires keep us away from pain and we can push that pain away by focusing on pleasure. Then lastly, he presents us with the idea that what is terrible are easy to endure. What is terrible causes pain and we can push that pain away by focusing on pleasure. Epicurus liked the idyllic setting and put emphasis on the pleasures of being outdoors, talking, arguing philosophical questions, and leading a relaxed life of intellectual engagement with like-minded friends. Epicurus found that the main source of unhappiness was the anxiety we held about death but that we shouldn’t follow moral codes dictated by the gods because we would vanish even sooner than our bodies once death was upon us. We must use our reason to see the way things really are and once we do is when we will be freed form these fears and enjoy mental happiness. As for when we are alive, the body has a way of telling us how we should live. We naturally seek life’s pleasure and shy away from the pains. Well this is all included in 4 categories. Natural goods, necessary goods, unnatural goods, and unnecessary goods. We seek natural and necessary pleasures, while also seeking natural and unnecessary pleases in slight moderations. It is living this way that Epicurus argues to use reason to seek long term-pleasures that will contribute to your health and well being. You’ll have a long and happy life and that should be all anyone should want.

Although Aristotle and Epicurus disagree upon the issue of happiness, I find that Aristotle demonstrates the true meaning of happiness to a greater extent than Epicurus. While one may be happy in their early life and miserable in their elder life, it is looked up correctly to assume one had a eudemonia of a life only at the end of ones life. It would be incorrect to claim happiness when your life is still happeneing. There is no doubt that we are rational animals. With Aristotle, happiness can be found with function of the person. Our fuction as humans is rationality. It is this idea that allows us to take on and meet certain challenges, honoring your skills and ultimately developing your capacities. And ultimately theres virtue. For aristoltle, virtue is happiness. And virtue is acheivede by maintaining the mean. The doctrine of the mean is composed of avoiding excess and deficeinecy in ones behavior attitude. Finding the middle path and then will you find the mean between the extremes. With one of the most important virtues being friendship, a successful relationship will bring you happiness.

Works cited

  1. Irwin, T. H. (1988). Aristotle's First Principles. Oxford University Press.
  2. Nicomachean Ethics. (2011). Oxford University Press.
  3. Barnes, J. (1982). The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation. Princeton University Press.
  4. Long, A. A., & Sedley, D. N. (1987). The Hellenistic Philosophers: Volume 1, Translations of the Principal Sources with Philosophical Commentary. Cambridge University Press.
  5. Epicurus. (1994). Letters, Principal Doctrines, and Vatican Sayings. Hackett Publishing.
  6. O'Keefe, T. (2010). Epicureanism. University of California Press.
  7. Inwood, B. (1995). The Cambridge Companion to Epicureanism. Cambridge University Press.
  8. Warren, J. (2002). Facing Death: Epicurus and his Critics. Oxford University Press.
  9. Cooper, J. M. (1999). Reason and Human Good in Aristotle. Hackett Publishing.
  10. Hardie, W. F. R. (1980). Aristotle's Ethical Theory. Clarendon Press.

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