What is Happiness?

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorUniversity, Bachelor's February 2008

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Countless theories and approaches have been made to philosophize the million-dollar question: what is happiness? Happiness is essential to all humans alike; without the desire to fulfill that necessity, life would be meaningless. Such an instinctive appetite for happiness leads to questions seeking truth of all, which it contains. Beginning with early Greek philosophy to modern schools of philosophy, happiness has been defined and redefined. Profound philosophers, such as Aristotle, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and Kant, have thoroughly speculated happiness and at the end, have ultimately come to various theories, through visions of their own or in conjunction with views that supplement others. Each theory supports its? own definition of happiness. The theories of Aristotle and Saint Thomas Aquinas are partially complimentary; where as Kant?s theory stands in opposition. Aristotle and Aquinas both view the theory of happiness ethically and virtuously, whilst Kant?s perception is that there is no value in living one?s life virtuously unless it can be certain that it will provide happiness.

The belief that the highest good, happiness, is achievable in this lifetime is demonstrative that Aristotle?s theory is distinctive from others, because it parallels to that of our self-actualization. Our self-actualization corresponds to Aristotle?s theory that in this lifetime we are capable to fully realize our potential. Aristotle?s theory of happiness is presented by means of eudaimonia, which states that one?s highest ethical goal is to pursue happiness and personal well-being. In pursuit of happiness he trusts that reason and nature interact as one. The article from the catholic encyclopedia states ??nature is human nature as a whole. This is both rational and sensuous.? By using these means, one will be able to find happiness, which Aristotle deems as the highest good. The action that utilizes a combination of reason and...