assignment three : LUSENET : Walsh Intro to Philosophy : One Thread

Aristotle's "The Rational Life" led me in several different directions. Much of the principle ideas in this essay I agreed and disagreed with, while there were several that were neither completely acceptable or completely unacceptable. Early on in Aristotle's philosophical essay, he tackles the idea of "happiness". His statement about man's identity with happiness being separate from man's answer to "what happiness is" is an acceptable explantation. By differentiating between "doing well and living well" and "what is", Aristotle has effectively represented each one of us (human species)as having identity; an identity that makes one man's idea, or philosophy, of happiness different from his fellow men. Reading further into the article, Aristole seems as though he revokes a degree of man's identity, though. When he talks of the "just and temperate man", he believes that for a man to be considered "just and temperate" he must do something worthy of this; but he must do it as other "just and temperate" men would do them. To me, this takes away a portion of a man's identity; he must do as they have done before. Now, I understand that to be just and temperate, one must take example from those "mentors" before, but nonetheless, it seems as though one would be following footsteps. Aristotle also writes about the final end, as opposed to several subsequent ends. Indeed, I agree that the "final end" that is sought is desireable when it stands alone; it needs nothing ("the other thing")to support it. Accordingly, I believe that "happiness" is final; never needing any backing; able to stand alone. Though, it is evident that today's criteria for happiness is not simply happiness. Today, happiness is to often masked by something else i.e. money, power, etc. My idea, and I believe Aristotle's idea, of happiness could exist without superficial, material shrouding. One area where I found myself disagreeing with Aristotle was with his explanation of the pleasures and pains of life. Here, he made the observation that the "right education" is maintained when a man learns the effects of pleasure and pain in his youth. Basically, Aristotle thinks that it can and should be learned in youth, so as to flush the system of these tendencies. I, on the other hand, feel that life is the road that teaches us and consequently, will rid us or ingrain in us the correct responses to each. Simply, a man's life becomes his experience with these "pleasures and pains"; and to think that this could be wrought in the youthful mind can become an unbearable weight.

-- Anonymous, February 22, 2000

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