Happiness 3 – Introduction

            I would define myself, in terms of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics to be quite simply a man. As we all strive to be “good” men, and strive for an immutable happiness, I would be on my way to that state.
            Like all people, I have good and bad qualities. Perhaps I procrastinate too much, and have trouble focusing on things. I am not always nice to others, and can be prone to selfishness. However, the negative alone do not define me. I will try to be nice to others when I can, I am generous with my money, if I see someone in need I will try my best to help them.
            In terms of Aristotle’s virtues, I believe that I am truthful, and monogamous. I value trust and the truth highly in all that I do, and try to keep those above all others. I try to be generous, courageous, and all around virtuous according to Aristotle. However, I do not believe anyone to be truly virtuous at all times in all areas. People are not perfect, and though I try to uphold proper and well virtues, I may falter at times in that.

            As stated in a previous post, I believe the goal of life is love. In that, my goal in life is to live a life of love. Love for the people that I care about, for my wife and for my family, for my friends as well. I may not always find happiness in the times that maybe I want to go see a movie or have dinner at home, while my wife wants to go to her parents’ house. However, that is not a bad thing. A life of love is not always being “happy”, but it is being content.
            Happiness is fleeting and an emotion, whereas love is an action. I will enjoy the times I am happy, but strive for a life of love and being content even in the times I am not happy.

“Amongst the vending machines and year-old magazines in a place where we only say goodbye
It stung like a violent wind that our memories depend on a faulty camera in our minds
But I knew that you were a truth I would rather lose than to have never lain beside at all
And I looked around at all the eyes on the ground as the TV entertained itself

‘Cause there’s no comfort in the waiting room
Just nervous pacers bracing for bad news
And then the nurse comes round and everyone will lift their heads
But I’m thinking of what Sarah said that “Love is watching someone die”

So who’s going to watch you die?..”

These are lyrics from a song “What Sarah Said” by the band Death Cab for Cutie. It is a sad song about being in the hospital with a loved one who is passing away. I chose it because it illustrates my belief that a “good” and full life is not always one that strives for happiness but for love. Love is not always happy, but in the lyrics “I knew you were a truth I would rather lose than to have never lain beside at all”, the artist is implying that it is better to have loved and lost than to have never have loved at all, even if that love is causing pain in the loss. That love for one another is the true goal of living and having a full and complete life.

Happiness 2 – Themes

            Our appearance has become centerfold in the culture we live in today. I am not surprised when reading the article to see at what lengths some people will go to change their appearance, nor how excited they are the have that opportunity.

Face-lift surgery, as well as any sort of body modifications, is not without its moral questions. In the past, whatever appearance you were born in, that was who you were and what you looked like. With advances in science and technology, that idea is in a way vanishing from modern culture. An idea of morality is accepting who you are and what you were born looking like, but modifying your body challenges that and states that you do not need to accept who you were born as.
            In a sense, it is nearly all vanity. But I believe is a culturally formed vanity. We are told that we do not need to accept being “ugly”, and in that sense, we are then defined what “ugly” looks like. If we find that we fall into that category, then we would want to improve ourselves to not be “ugly”.

I do believe that Extreme Makeover exploits its participants, though maybe not intentionally. It promotes this idea that you do not need to look how society views as ugly, however I believe that in itself to be morally wrong. We have no right to call someone ugly based on their physical characteristics alone.
            The idea that it is morally wrong, though, to spend thousands of dollars on cosmetic appearances rather than on the poor and ill, may not be true. I say this based only on the fact that while participating in our culture of vanity, one does not always decide between the poor or enhancing appearances. It is usually more of a decision that “I have the money, so I will do this to better my appearance”. I believe it would be morally wrong if one would knowingly spend the money on cosmetics when aware of the option to spend the money to help others elsewhere.

            Aristotle viewed virtues as a middle-ground between vices, as in no excess nor lacking of a certain quality.  Virtues of modesty, proper pride, and generosity could come into question in regards to participating in Extreme Makeover.
            Proper pride is the middle-ground of vanity, and so being too vain in that you focus so much on cosmetic appearances could be a vice. Also, modesty being the middle-ground for shamefacedness and shamelessness could come into question in that is the participant too shameful, or perhaps even after the makeover, do they become too shameless?
            As with the idea of it being morally wrong to spend money on cosmetics as opposed to the poor, generosity also comes into question.

            I believe, however, that Aristotle would not say that Extreme Makeover exploits its participants. He states that “being ugly” is an unfortunate thing in life that can detract from the end-goal of happiness. Then, trying to change that ugliness of appearances would be a good thing in that it can add to the happiness and well-being of the participant of Extreme Makeover.
            Aristotle would then see this simply as an attempt to be more happy, and perhaps even more virtuous in reaching a state of proper pride and modesty, rather than being ulgy and unhappy.

Image

This picture from www.makeovertravel.com shows that if we believe ourselves to be defined as “ugly” in our culture, we will seek to then change our appearance to one we believe to be “beautiful”.

Happiness 1 – Philosophy

“Presumably, however, to say that happiness is the chief good seems a platitude, and a clearer account of what it is still desired. This might perhaps be given, if we could first ascertain the function of man. For just as for a flute-player, a sculptor, or an artist, and, in general, for all things that have a function or activity, the good and the ‘well’ is thought to reside in the function, so would it seem to be for man, if he has a function. Have the carpenter, then, and the tanner certain functions or activities, and has man none? Is he born without a function? Or as eye, hand, foot, and in general each of the parts evidently has a function, may one lay it down that man similarly has a function apart from all these? What then can this be? Life seems to be common even to plants, but we are seeking what is peculiar to man. Let us exclude, therefore, the life of nutrition and growth. Next there would be a life of perception, but it also seems to be common even to the horse, the ox, and every animal. There remains, then, an active life of the element that has a rational principle; of this, one part has such a principle in the sense of being obedient to one, the other in the sense of possessing one and exercising thought. And, as ‘life of the rational element’ also has two meanings, we must state that life in the sense of activity is what we mean; for this seems to be the more proper sense of the term. Now if the function of man is an activity of soul which follows or implies a rational principle, and if we say ‘so-and-so-and ‘a good so-and-so’ have a function which is the same in kind, e.g. a lyre, and a good lyre-player, and so without qualification in all cases, eminence in respect of goodness being idded to the name of the function (for the function of a lyre-player is to play the lyre, and that of a good lyre-player is to do so well): if this is the case, and we state the function of man to be a certain kind of life, and this to be an activity or actions of the soul implying a rational principle, and the function of a good man to be the good and noble performance of these, and if any action is well performed when it is performed in accordance with the appropriate excellence: if this is the case, human good turns out to be activity of soul in accordance with virtue, and if there are more than one virtue, in accordance with the best and most complete.” (Nichomedian Ethics, Book I, 7)

Aristotle has come to the conclusion that happiness is the true goal of all human life. He is further implying that, in order to reach this conclusion, we must first decide what the purpose of human life is. A flute-player’s purpose is to play the flute, and so their goal is to play the flute well. A sculptor’s purpose is to sculpt, and his goal is to sculpt well. Aristotle then asks whether man, as a whole, as a function. This cannot be life in and of itself, as is the purpose of plants, but rather something unique to man.
               Both growth, and perception in life are common to animals, however, it is rational thought that is unique to man. Aristotle states that this is an active principle, and so the purpose of man is to live an active life based on rational thought. A man who lives a well life, as in one who can live an active life based on rational thought well, is the true goal of life, and the ultimate good. This life is said to be virtuous, in that virtue is living based on rational thought well. A man who then lives a virtuous life will have a complete life, and will find happiness.

               I chose this paragraph because I believe it to be a good idea of what Aristotle is trying to say in his Nichomedian Ethics. I like that he is making a distinction between man and the rest of living creatures, and it helped me make a little more sense of what he is talking about. I believe that Aristotle is saying that happiness is the end-all goal of everything people do and live, and that in order to reach that goal, we must therefore live a life of virtue, in order to be called “good”.

               I do not particularly agree that the end-all goal in life is happiness, but I do understand where Aristotle is coming from in that conclusion. We will not, generally, do something that we do not believe will result in an all-around goodness for ourselves. I believe love to be a more accurate purpose of life, in that sometimes we will knowingly do things that may not necessarily lead to our happiness, but the better well being of those that we love.
               Notions of happiness can differ for different people because the general definition of happiness is vague. I believe happiness to be a more transitory and fleeting emotion, rather than a state of being. You can be content with life, but not necessarily be happy. Being happy, to me, is a result of good fortune and being content with current situations in life, and is subject to disappear or lessen over time.
               I do believe, however, that Aristotle’s definition of happiness is useful in understanding the motivations of people, because being happy and content is perhaps one of the most powerful motivations of what we do.Image

This picture is from www.rogersfamilyco.com, I thought it represented well that I believe the end-all purpose of life is not necessarily happiness, but love.

Welcome to My Blog!

Hi, my name is Dominic. The dog in the background here is one of my four pets, her name is Sunna. I was recently married last October, and live with my wife in Lunenburg, Massachusetts. I am currently majoring in Psychology at Worcester State University. As a psych major, ethics are very important to almost anything in that field. Ethics are more than just what is right and what is wrong, ethics are a code of principles to govern our actions in a professional setting. They are what have been set up to protect not only those we come in contact with, but ourselves as well.
    What is morally right and wrong differs depending on whose morals you see them from. I believe that there is a common code of ethics set up in our culture today, with common “rights” and “wrongs”. It is wrong to steal, to murder, and to all around hurt another individual for no apparent reason. It is right to help others, to be fair in all of our actions, and to care for those we love.