The good life is a concept of philosophy that deals with morals. Good life and morality are interrelated in that to have a good experience, the morals of an individual are to be taken into account. In philosophy, the good life deals with perfection in political, spiritual, religious and economic matters. Morality deals with human behaviors regarding right and wrong, and there are several aspects of morality which define the human behavior such as; moral standards, moral responsibility, and moral identity. Morality and a good life are intertwined and related to each other, for example, morality deals with codes of conduct that are accepted by society, and as such, they affect the behaviors of individuals. The good life deals with the experience of individuals when someone lives well and has good morals such as honesty, kindness, loyalty and is selfless then that person has a good life. The following paper will show how morality and the good life are connected by using the works of these philosophers, Immanuel Kant, Aristotle, and Plato.
Immanuel Kant on the Good Life and Morality
Immanuel Kant sees morality concerning the law, duty, and obligations which affect an individual's life. To Kant morality and the good life are related, and one cannot have a good experience without morality. Since morality deals with codes of behavior, a good life cannot be attained without having good morals or ethics. Kant's concept of morality focuses on moral concerns which are imposed on an individual bylaws, to have a good life one has to be virtuous and respect laws and live their lives according to these laws, one should avoid breaking the rules in order to achieve happiness and richness and other things that constitute a good experience.
To Kant morality and a good life are dependent on one another. Kant philosophy on morality deals with laws and actions of individuals, for example, evil activities or vices such as murder, cheating, and stealing are prohibited even in cases where such actions will lead to happiness for an individual. According to Kant importance is not on the wrongness or rightness of individual action but on whether they fulfill our duties and obligations to the law and the society. Kant's philosophy of morality focuses on the concept of Categorical Imperative; this principle covers the idea of a good life because it demands that humans should respect others because of the humanity that exists in oneself. One should never specially treat themselves when relating with others, and everyone should recognize and act by the laws of society. From this philosophical view of Kant, to live the good life we must obey rules and regulations, vices such as stealing, corruption and lying should be avoided, these vices can help us achieve the good life, but to Kant, preventing them is the best option.
Good life and Morality in the Philosophy of Aristotle
Aristotle philosophy deals with the concept of useful life and morality since it focuses on the human desire to attain happiness. He also focuses on other aspects of human beings such as friendships and the pursuit of knowledge. Aristotle in his philosophy sought to define the rules for human relations that are important in achieving one's happiness and the general happiness of the community. From this we can see that his philosophy focuses on concepts of the good life and morality, it is hard to distinguish between a good life and morality in the philosophy of Aristotle, for example Aristotle shows us that the life of any human being consists of many activities and humans participate in these activities in order to achieve something, the thing to be accomplished must be good otherwise human beings would not have engaged in the operation.
In Aristotle's philosophy, the issue of good life arises because his philosophy attempts to answer the fundamental question of how we should live? By asking this question and trying to solve it Aristotle's philosophy is focusing on the good life. In his philosophy, Aristotle focuses on what is good human life, and he identifies this as being a virtuous life in which human beings strive to achieve excellence in all their endeavors. Therefore for Aristotle, the good life is a life filled with distinction in all the activities on decides to partake. Morality and useful life are connected since one cannot achieve a good life without following rules and laws. In the philosophy of Aristotle happiness and virtue go hand in hand, for example, happiness according to Aristotle is achieved through actions which seek ends that are motivated by an understanding of human goodness. Good human activities are the foundation of living well and as such morality and the good life are inseparable because you cannot have one without the other.
Plato's Philosophy on Morality and the Good life
Plato's philosophy is based on the four virtues that define human excellence; these are wisdom, courage, justice, and temperance. From these four virtues, we can see that Plato's philosophy relies on morality and as such morality and the attainment of a good life are connected. The four virtues are essential in the achievement of true happiness, and since happiness is one attribute of useful life, morality and the good life go hand in hand. For Plato, the good life is guided by reason and is a rational life which focuses on the highest good for an individual. To Plato happiness and virtue were linked and as such, it was impossible to have a good life without having good morals.
In Plato's philosophy happiness and pleasure are critically examined, for Plato there was tension between the body and soul. Plato's philosophy did not give priority bodily pleasures, to him a life seeking knowledge is the best life compared to one seeking bodily pleasures. To him the best experience is one in which destructive habits that result from the satisfaction of physical desires is not a good life; the good life is a life that focuses on the rule of reason. Since rules deal with morality, it is clear that in Plato's philosophy morality and the good life are related. For Plato to achieve an excellent life, human should avoid the pursuit of bodily pleasure and focus on attaining the virtues such as courage, to him these were more important and constituted the good life. By concentrating his philosophy on rules of reasons, Plato shows us that morality and the good life go hand in hand; you cannot have a good life without having good morals which have a basis on good virtues.
From the above discussion morality and the good life are related, and it is hard to distinguish one from the other. The philosophies of Kant, Aristotle, and Plato are based on the concept of rules especially the rule of reason and to them respecting the laws of the society are important, by having good morals one can attain the good life because they will not engage in vices to gain an advantage over others. From this, it is evident that in philosophy the attainment of useful life and morality are interconnected because to have a good experience one has to have good morals.
Banham, G. Kant's Practical Philosophy: From Critique to Doctrine. Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.
Hall, Edith. Aristotle's Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life. Penguin Publishing Group, 2013.
Hamalainen, Nora. Descriptive Ethics: What does Moral Philosophy Know about Morality? Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.
Plato. The Works of Plato. Creative Media Partners, 2015.
Vaughn, Lewis. Beginning Ethics: An Introduction to Moral philosophy. W.W. Norton, Incorporated, 2014.
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