Happiness and virtue

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What is Happiness? What is virtue? Although these two things are important to us, we probably have not put much thought into why. Most people would agree happiness is something everyone wants or a state of being. Virtues are part of our character and encompass such things as loyalty, courage, truth and integrity and are also an essential part of who we are. This essay starts at the beginning, with the first philosophers to question the idea of happiness and virtue, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Their concepts, ideas and their conclusions will be stated; an analysis of each individual’s belief will be summarized and compared.

Socrates believed happiness could only be attained if a person was morally good. In order to be morally good, you have to know what is good. Because people often change their minds about what makes them happy, they cannot know what happiness is. To achieve happiness a person must know themselves. According to Socrates the greatest achievement is happiness and happiness equates to having harmony in oneself. Virtue is in a persons’ best interest, it is un-teachable much like happiness but still requires knowledge, the knowledge of one’s true self. Virtue and happiness are intertwined for Socrates each of them need knowledge to be achieved, leading to Socrates belief that knowledge is the single most important key to living a happy, virtuous fulfilled life.

In order to understand Plato’s idea of virtue and happiness, we have to look deeper into his overall philosophy. Plato believed there were two separate worlds, the world of being and the world of becoming (dualism). Plato’s correlates the world of being with the soul and the world of becoming with the body. It is in the Soul that we find his views on virtue and happiness. The soul is true knowledge and encompasses justice and virtue, the soul lives in us and when we die

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