Other Philosophers – Variations on a Theme (Part 1)

In my book I mention that there is very little that modern philosophers can add to the discussion regarding how best to reach happiness in this life that the ancient philosophers haven’t already explored.  I would like to discuss this conclusion of mine in greater detail in a few upcoming posts.  These next posts might help put in perspective the more modern philosophers and how similar they are to the ancient philosophers.

The first philosopher (who is the last of the ancient philosophers that I will mention) to break from the Aristotelian/Aquinas approach to happiness was John Duns Scotus (1266-1308), a contemporary of Aquinas.  Scotus disagreed with the other ancient philosophers that happiness is the sole goal of our actions.  Instead, Scotus stated that in addition to seeking happiness, individuals also seek justice.  Justice is a natural tendency to obey moral laws and that these moral laws may not necessarily lead to individual happiness.  As such, individuals must weigh the demands for individual happiness with a call for justice towards others.  Scotus was as concerned with the flourishing of others as with the flourishing of oneself.

This concern for the welfare of others is captured in the narrative of my book.  As discussed in the book, the goal of the Adventure undertaken by some individuals is to capture a boon or gift for society.  However, this gift can only be delivered if the individual possesses the virtue of justice (concern for others), among other virtues, and if there is a love of the adventurer by society (Aquinas requirement).  Moreover, to even begin the Adventure to capture to boon requires a transcendental call or summons to the Adventure.  As such, Scotus’ concern for justice, or the flourishing of others, which is an important consideration, is captured in my book’s narrative.  It is the Adventure, if successful, that not only delivers happiness to the individual but also adds to the flourishing of the adventurer’s family, community, or society.

More in the next post!

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