Plato and Aristotle were two ancient Greek philosophers whose thoughts may still influence the world today. In general, Plato believed that people could be happy if they were moral and followed the four cardinal values of temperance, fortitude, prudence, and justice. Meanwhile, Aristotle, who was Plato’s student, generally saw happiness as the overall goal of life and believed that people could reach it by living virtuously and using their critical thinking and reasoning skills. It may be possible to apply Plato’s and Aristotle’s views on happiness to your life by having principles and sticking to them, living in the present, setting reasonable goals, and seeking balance. Working with a licensed therapist in person or online may also help you find happiness.
A Brief Look At Aristotle And Plato
Plato may be one of the reasons why the world operates the way it does today. He created the Academy, which is typically considered to be the first place of higher education in the West. While his life can be shrouded in mystery, Plato’s works have survived for thousands of years, and he was a teacher to many people, including Aristotle, who some believe to be his most famous student.
Aristotle joined Plato's Academy as a young adult and continued studying there for 20 years. He is typically thought to have become one of the biggest influences on the Western philosophy of values, and like Plato, his works have survived, often continuing to influence modern society.
Plato's Opinion On Happiness
Plato wrote his ideas on happiness in The Republic. He believed that those who are happy are those who are moral and follow the four cardinal values. He taught that these were character traits that could be used and practiced until one could utilize them without thinking about it. These four values generally included the following:
Temperance usually involves moderation in one's desires or a middle road between excess and deficiency. It can be thought of as exhibiting restraint in one's actions and staying balanced. For example, Plato might judge a person who never drinks alcohol in the same way as someone who drinks alcohol to excess.
Also known as courage, fortitude can be defined as inner strength in the face of adversity. When you're courageous, you may resist temptations and overcome difficulties. You may remain tenacious and fight on despite the troubles you may face. Those who have fortitude usually persevere. Fortitude may be a necessary component in accomplishing your goals, which can contribute to overall happiness.
Prudence normally involves being reasonable and using that reason to self-govern. Those who are happy may be able to self-judge and choose moral actions. They may be mindful, learn from their mistakes, and strive to improve.
Plato's definition of justice can be slightly different from what we may think of when we hear the word. It is generally the most abstract of the virtues. Justice, in Plato’s view, can be considered the middle road between being selfless and selfish. Plato generally believed that while one should pursue their own desires, it can also be essential to help those around them flourish.
To summarize, Plato generally believed that a happy person has principles and sticks to them.
Aristotle's Opinion On Happiness
Aristotle spent a lot of time talking about happiness. He generally believed that happiness was the goal of life and could be achieved by living virtuously. One may live virtuously by nurturing their inherent good habits and developing new ones. Doing so can enable one to make good choices and lead a happy life.
Humanity itself may have a function, according to Aristotle, and that may be to reason. We may be set apart from other creatures because we are self-aware and have critical thinking skills. Aristotle generally believed that we need to use our reasoning to be happy, which can help us live a virtuous life.
Plato and Aristotle can be said to have believed in having a system of values and sticking to them to achieve happiness. They may have also believed in choosing the middle ground between excess and depravity.
What Can We Learn From Plato And Aristotle?
Aristotle and Plato may not be infallible beings, but their words can apply to many people, and you can strive to improve your life by thinking about their beliefs. Some ways you can do this may include the following:
Perhaps you have a moral code, but you may not have given it much thought. You might think about what you believe to be right or wrong and stick to it. By enforcing your principles, you may find yourself feeling happier. If you mess up, it can be best to learn from your mistakes and remember that no one may be completely perfect.
Live In The Present
Set Reasonable Goals
Striving for goals and achieving something great can be one way to achieve happiness, but your goals should usually center on what you have. It may be a good ambition to become a billionaire, but most of us may benefit from smaller and more manageable goals.
Humans can be creatures of extremes. Temperance may be one such solution to this potential problem. Think about parts in your life where you may do too much. For instance, you may constantly scroll on social media throughout the day. This may distract you from your life, and the images and messages you find there may negatively impact your mental health.
However, not having social media can make you feel isolated in some cases. A person with temperance could be one who checks social media on occasion, but focuses on real life as well as the virtual world.
Therapy Can Help You Find Happiness
It might be great to have Aristotle or Plato as your mentor, but their time has long passed. If you're looking for someone to help you achieve happiness, consider trying therapy. Therapy can teach you ways to achieve your goals, potentially increasing your happiness. If you’re living with any kind of mental health disorder or have been experiencing mental health challenges, therapy can also be helpful in alleviating any associated symptoms.
Benefits Of Online Therapy
Online therapy may be an excellent option if you’re ready to talk to a professional but aren’t interested in meeting with a therapist face-to-face. With online therapy, you can meet with your therapist from the comfort of your home or wherever you have an internet connection. Plus, you can reach out to your therapist with a message anytime, even if sadness hits you in the middle of the night, and they’ll typically get back to you as soon as they can.
Effectiveness Of Online Therapy
Online treatment can be effective, too. A 2020 study showed that online therapy generally resulted in “significant and clinically meaningful improvements in depression and anxiety scores relative to a baseline that was observed postintervention at 12 weeks and sustained at program month 6.” Whether you’re showing signs of depression or just need guidance in finding happiness, consider working with a therapist.
What is happiness according to Plato and Aristotle?
Plato and Aristotle, two prominent ancient Greeks who were philosophers, had distinct views on the nature and attainment of inner happiness.
For Plato happiness depends on the pursuit of virtue and wisdom. He believed that true happiness could only be achieved through the cultivation of the soul and the realization of one's highest potential. According to Plato:
- Eudaimonia: Plato's concept of happiness, or "eudaimonia," is a state of well-being and flourishing that results from living a life of moral virtue, wisdom, and self-discipline. It is a deep and lasting sense of fulfillment.
- Tripartite Soul: Plato's model of the soul consists of three parts: reason (the rational part), spirit (the emotional part), and appetite (the desires and appetites). True happiness is achieved when reason governs and guides the other two parts, ensuring harmony and balance. This may be shown in the Allegory of the Chariot in which a rider attempts to lead a chariot drawn by a noble horse and a wild horse to eudaimonia.
- Philosopher-Kings: Plato believed that philosopher-kings, individuals who possessed both wisdom and a deep understanding of the Good, were best equipped to govern society and promote the happiness of the state.
Aristotle, a student of Plato, had his own perspective on happiness, which he referred to as "eudaimonia." Aristotle's concept of happiness is more practical and down-to-earth compared to Plato's. According to Aristotle:
- Eudaimonia: Like Plato, Aristotle viewed happiness as a state of eudaimonia, but he defined it as the ultimate end and purpose of human life. Eudaimonia is achieved through the virtuous pursuit of one's potential and living a good life in accordance with reason.
- Golden Mean: Aristotle introduced the idea of the "golden mean," which involves finding a balanced middle ground between excess and deficiency in one's actions and emotions. Virtue is achieved by avoiding extremes and finding moderation.
- Virtue Ethics: Aristotle's ethical theory, known as virtue ethics, emphasizes the importance of moral virtues such as courage, justice, and wisdom in achieving happiness. Virtuous actions and habits lead to a virtuous character.
- Function of Human Beings: Aristotle believed that the highest form of happiness is closely tied to the unique function of human beings, which is rational activity. To be truly happy, one should engage in activities that fulfill their unique human potential for rational thought and contemplation.
Both Plato and Aristotle emphasized the importance of virtue and wisdom in the pursuit of happiness, with Plato focusing more on the soul's cultivation and the role of philosopher-kings, while Aristotle emphasized the practical development of virtues and the importance of rational activity in achieving eudaimonia.
Which philosopher believed in happiness?
Many philosophers have explored the concept of happiness as a part of human nature in their works, and different philosophers have had varying views on what happiness is and how it can be attained. Here are a few notable philosophers who believed in and contributed to the understanding of happiness:
- Aristotle: Aristotle is often associated with the concept of eudaimonia, a term that is often translated as "happiness" or "flourishing." He believed that true happiness is the ultimate end and purpose of human life and is achieved through virtuous pursuit and a life committed to finding one's potential.
- Epicurus: Epicurus, an ancient Greek philosopher, believed that happiness is the highest good and can be attained through the pursuit of simple pleasures and the avoidance of pain. He advocated for a life of tranquility and the cultivation of friendships.
- John Stuart Mill: Mill, a 19th-century philosopher, is known for his utilitarian ethics, which posits that actions should be judged by their capacity to promote the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. He believed in the importance of happiness and well-being in ethical decision-making.
- Jeremy Bentham: Bentham, a utilitarian philosopher, believed in the principle of "the greatest happiness for the greatest number." He argued that the ultimate goal of human actions should be to maximize happiness and minimize suffering.
- Positive Psychology: While not a single philosopher, the field of positive psychology, developed in the 20th century, focuses on the scientific study of happiness, well-being, and human flourishing. Prominent psychologists like Martin Seligman have contributed to this field, emphasizing the importance of positive emotions, strengths, and virtues.
- Confucius: The Chinese philosopher Confucius believed in the pursuit of a harmonious and virtuous life as a path to happiness. He emphasized the importance of moral character and ethical behavior.
- Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Rousseau, an Enlightenment philosopher, believed in the importance of happiness in the social contract. He argued that governments should promote the common good and happiness of their citizens.
- Viktor Frankl: While best known for his work on existentialism and meaning in life, Viktor Frankl believed that happiness and meaning were closely connected. He emphasized the importance of finding purpose and meaning in one's life.
How does Plato connect justice and happiness?
Plato connects justice and happiness by asserting that individual justice, characterized by inner harmony and the rule of reason over desires, leads to happiness. He extends this connection to the ideal state, where a just and well-ordered society is a condition for the happiness of its citizens. Plato's theory in philosophy emphasizes the interdependence of individual and societal well-being and the role of justice in achieving happiness on both levels.
What do philosophers say about happiness?
Philosophers have offered various perspectives on happiness throughout the history of philosophy. Here are some key ideas and viewpoints from philosophers regarding happiness:
- Aristotle: Aristotle's concept of eudaimonia, often translated as "happiness" or "flourishing," is central to his philosophy. He believed that true happiness is the ultimate end and purpose of human life and is achieved through the virtuous pursuit of one's potential.
- Epicurus: Epicurus emphasized that happiness is the highest good and can be attained through the pursuit of simple pleasures, the avoidance of pain, and the cultivation of tranquility. He advocated for a life of moderation and the development of friendships.
- Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill: These utilitarian philosophers argued that actions should be judged by their capacity to promote the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. They believed in the importance of happiness and well-being in ethical decision-making.
- Immanuel Kant: Kant, in his moral philosophy, distinguished between happiness (which he called "inclination") and moral duty. He believed that the pursuit of moral duty, based on rational principles and self control, is more important than mere happiness.
- Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Rousseau considered the connection between justice and happiness. He argued that a just society promotes the common good and happiness of its citizens.
- Confucius: The Chinese philosopher Confucius believed that the pursuit of a harmonious and virtuous life leads to happiness. He emphasized the importance of moral character, ethical behavior, and the development of social harmony.
- Viktor Frankl: While known for his work on existentialism and meaning in life, Frankl believed that happiness and meaning were closely connected. He emphasized the importance of finding purpose and meaning in one's life.
- Positive Psychology: In the 20th and 21st centuries, positive psychology emerged as a field dedicated to the scientific study of happiness, well-being, and human flourishing. Psychologists such as Martin Seligman have contributed to this field, emphasizing the importance of positive emotions, strengths, and virtues in achieving happiness.
What is happiness according to Socrates?
Socrates, one of the most influential philosophers in Western philosophy, did not leave behind a systematic body of work like some other philosophers. Instead, his ideas and philosophy are primarily known through the writings of his students, most notably Plato. However, there are aspects of Socratic thought that relate to happiness.
Socrates believed that true happiness in each human being is closely tied to moral and intellectual excellence. His views can be summarized as follows:
- Virtue and Knowledge: Socrates believed that happiness is intrinsically linked to virtue and moral excellence. He argued that a person who knows what is truly good and virtuous will naturally act in accordance with those values, leading to a life of goodness and happiness.
- Ignorance and Vice: Socrates believed that ignorance is the root of vice and unethical behavior. He contended that no one does evil intentionally; instead, people do wrong due to their ignorance of what is truly good and virtuous.
- The Socratic Paradox: Socrates is known for the Socratic Paradox, which states, "No one does evil knowingly." This paradox suggests that if people truly understood what is good and virtuous, they would naturally pursue it, and their actions would lead to happiness.
- Self-Examination: Socrates encouraged self-examination and introspection. He believed that an individual should engage in critical self-reflection to understand their values and beliefs. By questioning one's assumptions and beliefs, a person can strive for moral and intellectual improvement, which, in turn, leads to a happier and more fulfilled life.
- The Pursuit of Wisdom: Socrates' life was characterized by the pursuit of wisdom and the questioning of conventional wisdom. He believed that the unexamined life is not worth living and that a life dedicated to the search for wisdom and truth would lead to a deeper sense of happiness and fulfillment.
What did Plato say about life?
Plato, one of the most influential philosophers in Western philosophy, had a profound impact on the way we think about life, ethics, and the nature of reality. While his ideas are presented in various dialogues and writings, several key themes and concepts related to life can be attributed to Plato's philosophy:
- Eudaimonia: Plato, like his student Aristotle, believed in the concept of eudaimonia, which is often translated as "happiness" or "flourishing." For Plato, true happiness is achieved through the virtuous pursuit of one's potential and the realization of one's highest nature. This idea suggests that a fulfilling and meaningful life involves living in accordance with reason and moral virtue.
- The Examined Life: Plato is famous for the assertion that "the unexamined life is not worth living." Plato taught and believed in the importance of critical self-examination and philosophical inquiry. To live a meaningful life, one must question assumptions, seek knowledge, and engage in a process of introspection to better understand one's beliefs and values.
- Philosophical Life: Plato's own life was characterized by a dedication to philosophy. He founded the Academy in Athens, one of the earliest known institutions of higher learning, and he encouraged the pursuit of wisdom and truth as a path to a more meaningful and fulfilling existence.
- Forms and Reality: Plato's philosophy also delves into questions about the nature of reality and the relationship between the material world and intelligible realm or the world of Forms or Ideas. According to Plato, the material world is an imperfect reflection of the world of Forms, which contains perfect and unchanging archetypes of reality. Understanding this metaphysical perspective can influence one's outlook on life and the quest for ultimate truths.
- Justice and the Ideal State: Plato explored the concept of justice in his famous work "The Republic." He examined how an ideal state should be structured to promote justice and the well-being of its citizens. His insights on justice and the nature of the ideal state can inform ethical considerations in life.
- The Role of Reason: Plato emphasized the importance of reason as a guiding principle in life. He believed that reason should govern and guide the emotions and desires, leading to a balanced and virtuous life.
Which philosopher said it happiness is the highest good?
The idea that happiness is the highest good is a prominent theme in the ethical philosophy of several philosophers. Aristotle, one of the ancient philosophers, argued that happiness (eudaimonia) is the highest good and the ultimate purpose of human life. He believed that everything we do, we do for the sake of happiness, and that it is the final end that encompasses all other goods. Aristotle's ethical theory, often referred to as virtue ethics, focuses on the development of moral virtues and the cultivation of one's character as the path to achieving happiness.
Epicurus, another ancient Greek philosopher, believed that happiness is the highest good and the ultimate goal of human life. He emphasized the pursuit of simple pleasures and the avoidance of pain as the means to attain happiness. Epicurus' philosophy is often associated with a form of hedonism, which emphasizes the importance of pleasure in leading a good and happy life.
What is the greatest happiness according to Aristotle?
Aristotle's concept of the "greatest happiness" is closely tied to his idea of eudaimonia, which is often translated as "flourishing" or "living well." In Aristotle's ethical philosophy, eudaimonia represents the highest and most complete form of happiness. Here are the key components of the greatest happiness according to Aristotle:
- Eudaimonia:Eudaimonia is the ultimate goal and highest good in Aristotle's ethical framework. It is a state of well-being, human flourishing, and living in accordance with one's true potential and nature. It is not merely a fleeting emotion or sensation but a deep and lasting state of contentment and fulfillment.
- Virtue and Moral Excellence: Aristotle believed that eudaimonia is closely linked to the development of moral virtues and the cultivation of a virtuous character. Virtues like courage, wisdom, justice, and self-discipline are essential for achieving the greatest happiness. Virtuous actions and habits lead to a virtuous character, which, in turn, contributes to a flourishing life.
- Reason and Rational Activity: For Aristotle, the exercise of reason and rational activity is a crucial aspect of the greatest happiness. He argued that humans have a unique capacity for rational thought, and true eudaimonia is achieved when individuals engage in activities that fulfill their potential for rational contemplation and ethical reflection.
- Golden Mean: Aristotle introduced the concept of the "golden mean," which involves finding a balanced middle ground between excess and deficiency in one's actions and emotions. Virtue is achieved by avoiding extremes and finding moderation, which contributes to a well-balanced and harmonious life.
- Self-Actualization: The greatest happiness, according to Aristotle, is associated with self-actualization and personal growth. It involves the realization of one's own potential and the pursuit of a life that aligns with one's unique nature and abilities.
What did Plato believe?
Plato, one of the most significant and influential philosophers in Western philosophy, held a wide range of beliefs and ideas, many of which are presented in his philosophical dialogues. While his thought is complex and multifaceted, here are some of the key beliefs and concepts associated with Plato:
- Theory of Forms (Theory of Ideas): Perhaps one of Plato's most famous and enduring ideas is his theory of Forms, also known as the theory of Ideas. He believed that the physical world we perceive is imperfect and ever-changing, while there exists a non-material, eternal, and unchanging realm of Forms or Ideas. These Forms are perfect archetypes or abstract concepts that serve as the true reality. For example, there is a Form of the Good, a Form of Beauty, and so on.
- Philosopher-Kings: In his work "The Republic," Plato proposed a utopian society governed by philosopher-kings. He believed that those who possessed wisdom, philosophical knowledge, and a deep understanding of the Forms should rule and guide society. These philosopher-kings would lead a just and harmonious state, with each individual fulfilling their role in accordance with their nature.
- The Allegory of the Cave: In "The Republic," Plato introduced the allegory of the cave, which illustrates his beliefs about the nature of reality and knowledge. He argued that most people are like prisoners in a cave, seeing only shadows on the wall, unaware of the true reality outside the cave. Philosophers are those who escape the cave and gain knowledge of the true Forms.
- Dualism: Plato was a dualist, believing in the existence of two distinct realms: the physical world and the world of Forms. This dualism influenced later philosophical thought, particularly the mind-body dualism explored by philosophers like René Descartes.
- Education and the Pursuit of Virtue: Plato believed in the importance of education as a means to cultivate moral and intellectual virtues. He thought that individuals should strive to become virtuous, with a focus on ethical and moral excellence.
What is Plato's philosophy?
Plato's philosophy can be characterized by a complex interplay of key ideas and concepts. Central to his philosophy is the belief in a realm of abstract, unchanging Forms or Ideas, which serve as the true reality behind the imperfect and ever-changing physical world. He argued that the pursuit of knowledge of these Forms, particularly the Form of the Good, leads to genuine wisdom and virtue. Plato was a dualist, positing a division between the physical and non-material realms, which influenced later philosophers' views on the mind-body problem.
In his dialogues, such as "The Republic," Plato explored a range of philosophical topics, including justice, the ideal state, education, the immortality of the soul, and the importance of dialectical reasoning. He emphasized the role of philosophical inquiry, critical self-examination, and the pursuit of wisdom in achieving a just and harmonious life, both at the individual and societal levels. Plato's philosophical legacy has had a profound and enduring influence on Western thought and continues to shape discussions in metaphysics, modern science, ethics, epistemology, and political philosophy.
- Previous Article
- Next Article