There has been Aristotle Aristotle There has been a great debate over the highest human good and whether happiness is the highest good. Philosophers have said that the highest good is happiness. Others have said that it is piety. Aristotle insists that all human beings desire to be happy and the highest good is happiness. But what is happiness? If I am smiling does that mean I m happy? If someone wants to be lonely is that mean to be lonely can be happiness? For instance, an old man decided natural death because he doesn t want to impose burden to his children such as hospital bills. Does he choose natural death because of happiness? Aristotle s contention that happiness is the highest good is incorrect because there are more things, which are valuable than happiness.
I do not believe only that all human beings desire to be happy, but also happiness has to be had pleasure. I am going to develop by my point of view with questionings. Aristotle says that good and happiness consist in pleasure, and consequently people are content with a life of mere enjoyment. I disagree with that, as there are so many people who abandon their pleasure and pleasurable things in life such as enjoyment. A monk gives up for a life of solitude and piety. A priest also gives up pleasure that he can have and decides to sacrifice his entire life to God.
Are their lives with abstinence from pleasure happy as all human beings desire to be happy, the highest good? I do not think they become a monk or priest to pursue their happy life. A monk cannot be as happy as others if he does not have the same amount of pleasure. Then why he decides to be a monk? Because he believes that piety is more valuable than happiness. I learned from TEST 368 that most priests feel lonely and dejected after they get old and lose the ability to preach. But still he chose to be a priest because faith and belief in God are valuable than happiness.
Let s say Aristotle s contention that all human beings desire to be happy is right. Then why the priest and the monk did not choose to be happy? The reason is that happiness is not the highest good and it proves that the highest good is not happiness. Is the highest good happiness? In my opinion, there are many different goods such as value of life and individual goal that can be higher than happiness. For instance, nursing home volunteers devote their time to help old people or handicapped people.
But are they sacrificing their time to be happy for themselves? I do not think they do that for happiness. They may undergo bad situation and unpleasant experience while they help handicapped people. They may still believe that is the thing they have to do, and they do it because they believe that is the most worthwhile thing to do. No matter how much happiness the voluntary work brings, they do it because they know there is something more important than just earning happiness. They know that value of other people is more important than the pursuit of happiness. Volunteers will eventually feel happy for what they have done for old people.
Some may say, they feel happiness anyway, and did not they do it to achieve their final happiness? And it may sound same as the highest good is happiness, but it is not. Even though, they get the happiness, it does not mean, the highest good is happiness. They started with the pure intention of just helping someone; they didn t start volunteering to gain happiness for themselves or because they feel happy when they help someone. Their final destination wasn t their happiness. They did it and do it because they believe that is the right thing to do even though they undergo hardship. If Aristotle s contention that the highest good is happiness is right, why they did not desire to be happy? The answer is so simple that they do not desire to be happy and it shows that to all human beings do not desire to be happy.
Many people may think they desire to be happy as others do, and happiness is the highest good. However, they will realize that they are wrong when they think deeply. A monk and a priest believe that piety and faith are more valuable than happiness and the volunteers, who help the old people and the handicapped people do not desire to be happy. Therefore, I do not agree with Aristotle s contention that all human beings desire to be happy and the highest good is happiness. I just want to add that to regard the desire to be happy itself as important is not always right and the way to be happy is more important.
Take for instance, a person is addicted to drug. He believes that to keep taking the drug will make him happy. However, the choice for happiness is not right morally and legally. Is the life itself called, happy life? There is no such a standard of good.
How good is too good? It is hard to answer this simple question. Therefore, the intention and the progress to achieve the highest human good are also very important.