Utorak, 13 Juli 2021 21:17

Philosophy of happiness as a guide to finding satisfaction in life Istaknut

Allegory of Happiness by Agnolo Bronzino Allegory of Happiness by Agnolo Bronzino

Human happiness has long been understood as something difficult or impossible to achieve, and over the centuries philosophers have advised people how to live a happy life. In philosophy, happiness is translated from the Greek concept of eudaimonia, and it refers to the good life or prosperity and not only to emotions, and is generally understood as a moral goal of life or as an aspect of chance. Philosophical “theories of happiness“ can be about either of at least two different things: well-being or a state of mind can be related to any of at least two different things, well-being or state of mind.

The question of the best form of living is one of the main topics of ethics. Philosophers usually explicate happiness as a state of mind or a life that goes well for the person who leads it.

For most ancient philosophers, happiness is living a good life, which will almost certainly involve a certain amount of suffering. This attitude is illustrated by Cicero's words that a happy man will be happy even on a torture device. In many systems of ancient ethics (Democritus, Cynics, Epicurus) the realization of happiness (or bliss) is defined as the supreme principle of moral action. Democritus contended that happiness was a “case of mind“. For him “happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold; happiness dwells in the soul“. Cynics said that people can gain happiness by rigorous training and by living in a way that is natural for themselves, rejecting all conventional desires for wealth, power, and fame. Epicurus, whose work was dominated by hedonism, contended that in fact, virtue (living according to values) and pleasure are interdependent. Because of that, the pursuit of pleasure is the only intrinsic good. A more objective view of happiness was introduced by Socrates, and his student, Plato. They put forth the notion that happiness was “secure enjoyment of what is good and beautiful“. Socrates said: “When you live a moral life you have peace of mind, but happiness also comes from the joy of knowledge, which means exploring the higher fields of the truth.“ Plato developed the idea that the best life is one whereby a person is either pursuing the pleasure of exercising intellectual virtues. Aristotle in Nicomachean ethics argued that happiness is the only thing that people want just for themselves. For him, happiness was life in virtue, which is measured in the final score, and not in moments.

The medieval concept of happiness had its origins in the writings of Aristotle and Saint Augustine. They posited a single end for all human moral activity: for Aristotle, that end is eudaimonia, the perfection of the potentialities within the human soul; for Saint Augustine, that end is beatitude, the eternal perfection of the soul granted by God. Saint Augustine defined happiness as the supreme good and claims that happiness is possible only in the afterlife, in the vision of God.

In modern philosophy, happiness as a criterion of ethical evaluation is emphasized by Baruch Spinoza, John Locke, philosophers of the Enlightenment, French materialists, Auguste Comte, Ludwig Feuerbach. John Locke believed that it is “a man's task to be happy“ and that is why he should maximize pleasures, minimize pain to reach the full range of happiness and satisfaction in life. The pursuit of true happiness, according to Locke, is equated with “the highest perfection of intellectual nature“. Immanuel Kant advocated the ethics of duty, and believe that “all eudemonists are practically egoists“. For him, one's happiness is a weak sort of duty, which is an easy one to obey since all men desire happiness. He said that moral-ity is not about becoming happy, but rather about becoming worthy of happiness by heeding the call of duty. Utilitarians such as John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham emphasized happiness as the supreme principle of ethical sharing. Karl Marx believed that the happiness of the entire society is necessary as a precondition for the happiness of every human being. Perceptions of modern philosophers, such as Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, about happiness are much more pessimistic. According to Schopenhauer happiness is no more than the absence of pain and suffering; the moment of relief occasionally felt between the fulfillment of one desire and the pursuit of the next.

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