Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, April 25, 2016

1st report: Happiness

Beshoy Aziz
Section 6
Dr. Oliver
          Happiness is different for everyone. If we go around and ask  people a simple question of the things that makes them happy; some will say becoming rich, raising a family or even  traveling around the world. Others will say that just achieving our goals is happiness, while other might say that happiness is the absence of suffering. Also a lot of people think that happiness is in the things they don’t have rather than what they have, and that they will just be happy by having these things. If happiness can be expressed in all these things, the important question here is what makes such vague thing become everyone's goal and how can we define something that everyone have different views about?
       According to Aristotle "happiness depends on ourselves." Aristotle, who devoted more time to this topic than any other philosophers prior to his time, tells us that we can make ourselves happy more than anyone else can. He also tells us that happiness, which is translated from the Greek word eudaimonia, depends on the cultivation of virtue. For Aristotle, the life of virtue plays a big role on becoming happy.  While believing that being happy also requires the fulfilling our physical and mental needs, Aristotle believed that happiness is all about practicing. He believed that we don't only receive happiness, we also achieve it. Just like becoming better at any sports, being truly happy comes from practicing the virtues. Basically, Aristotle says that having good traits like being courageous, generous and wise, and becoming good at them makes us truly happy. To become good at any of these virtues, we need a lot of practice with the right equipment and coach. For example, if anyone wants to become generous, he or she can perform generous actions and that will make them generous. For Aristotle, true happiness comes from becoming virtuous which is just a matter of practice, and that everyone should aim for it because it is the most important goal in life and the reason of our existence.
         In my opinion, I think that becoming virtuous can help us in becoming happy, but it is not the only factor that leads to happiness. I tend to think of happiness as an external locus of control, meaning that happiness is controlled by environmental factors and things that we don't have control over. For example we can lose our happiness from the loss of a loved one; it does not matter if we are virtues or not. We cannot be happy if we don’t have food or a house to live in, we also cannot be happy if we don’t live in peace and we are controlled by other people. While Aristotle might think that happiness is about who we are, rather than what happens to us, I tend to think that who we are is altered by what happens to us, and that happiness is affected by external factors. In summation, it is very hard to defined happiness, simply because everyone views it in a different way. 

1 comment:

  1. We need to be careful with Aristotle's statement about happiness depending on ourselves. He insists that we're SOCIAL beings, so our happiness depends on ourselves in our social context. He also acknowledges your point about circumstances beyond our control ultimately determining our capacity to achieve full "eudaimonia"... so, it's necessary that we practice the virtues but NOT sufficient. THis is why it's probably best to supplement Aristotelian happiness with some Stoic acceptance, and to do our best not to master external fate but to manage our internal response to events we can't control.

    You're right, it's hard to define happiness in such a way that we account for all the differences between us. But it's our differences and not our agreements that make life interesting and ultimately a source of personal (as well as social) happiness, don't you think?