Tag Archives: Stoicism

Aristotle was Right, Almost (Part 2)

Continuing from my last post, Aristotle offers a very unique road to happiness that could be considered part Epicureanism and part Stoicism.

Aristotle realizes that luck regarding one’s parents and society has a large impact on whether one attains happiness since proper preparation (including education) for life is so important.

Beyond preparation, Aristotle understands that one needs friends to find some meaning in life as well as the appreciation of others.  He understands the need for some wealth as well as pleasure in one’s daily life; after all, we all live in the real world and must satisfy certain human needs.  In addition, he values social skills enough to note that those with emotional anxieties and those that lack social skills may never find happiness.

Aristotle teaches that each individual is responsible for attaining the virtues, which are found through practice and through interactions with others.  The activities undertaken to secure the virtues are vitally important to finding happiness.  In a sense, Aristotle was very pragmatic.  He understands those needs necessary just to be able to begin to lead a virtuous life (the needs reflected in Maslow’s hierarchy) – a nurturing family and just society, friendships, wealth, and honor, but he is quick to note that an excess of any of these needs is harmful to one’s happiness.  He realizes that greed, gluttony, and arrogance are very harmful to finding happiness.

For Aristotle, living a life of virtuous activity (once the virtues are acquired) is happiness.  To Aristotle, happiness is not a state of mind as much as it is a way of life.

Thus, Aristotle reflects the teachings of Epicurus as well as the Stoics.  Aristotle’s teachings present the proper roads of the Journey as well as the Adventure.  Aristotle’s philosophy will get us from birth to the threshold of happiness.

More to come!

Aristotle was Right, Almost (Part 1)

Several posts ago I mentioned that the Epicurean philosophy explains very accurately the Journey segment of the road to happiness.  This philosophy centers on the removal of pain and anxiety in one’s daily life.  The Journey, if lived properly, does just what the Epicureans propose: removal of pain and anxiety in everyday life.  The Journey begins with preparation by one’s family and society (nurture, safety, eduction, food, shelter) followed by activities that lead to flow experiences.  These flow experiences help to distance oneself from the drudgery of everyday life by providing a sense of belonging and self-esteem.  These activities, along with the preparation, help to satisfy the first four needs of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  However, this philosophy falls short in helping to satisfy the final need of Maslow – self-actualization (or the completion of one’s call or summons).

Several posts ago I also mentioned that the Stoic philosophy explains very accurately the Adventure segment of the road to happiness.  This philosophy centers on the exercise of the virtues as necessary and sufficient for attaining happiness.  The virtues (specifically wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice) aid in satisfying Maslow’s self-actualization need of recognizing one’s call, the courage to accept the call, the tools to resist the many temptations that will be encountered, and the willingness to provide one’s gifts (or calling) to others.  This philosophy helps to satisfy the final need of Maslow’s hierarchy; however, it does little to explain how to satisfy the first four needs.  In other words, the Stoic philosophy does little to explain the Journey and how you acquire the virtues needed for the Adventure.

One philosopher manages to recognize the necessity of both the Journey and the Adventure – Aristotle.  His thinking spans both the Epicurean and Stoic philosophies without diminishing the benefits of each.

More to come!


Virtue: A Must Have for Happiness – Part 5

Continuing with my last post: the adventurer is near the end and is at the entrance to the threshold back to the everyday world.

The philosophers discussed in my book – Aristotle, Epicurus, and the Stoics, all mention that individuals will progress from valuing food and warmth, to social relationships with others, to valuing the moral virtues of wisdom, courage, moderation, and justice, before reaching happiness.

The positive psychologists teach of a similar progression of food and warmth to social relationships to self-esteem and finally self-actualization or simply, happiness.  Both the philosophers (especially Aristotle) and the psychologists (especially Maslow) teach that the deep-seated human motivation – the purpose in life, is to seek happiness.

The myths, as explained by Campbell, also address the human desire to achieve happiness through the adventures to secure the boons for the benefit of society.

The works of art presented in my book also illustrate the desire to achieve happiness and, in most cases, they depict the means of achieving this happiness.

The traits of successful entrepreneurs reinforce the teachings of the philosophers, psychologists, the myths, and the artists as the vehicle for traveling the road of life in search of happiness.

But there is one final link missing.  This one remaining condition is what pulls the adventurer across the threshold back to the everyday world in which the boon contributes to the flourishing of society and happiness is rewarded to the adventurer.