It is normal for a man to want to live a happy life. Human beings aspire to live a good life, regardless of the different meanings of the approaches to acquiring a good life. Aristotle and Immanuel Kant had opposing philosophical perspectives on how to change society in their respective environments. Aristotle’s theory behind living a decent life is specifically attributed to achieving one’s intent in a moral and upright manner by balancing the pleasures of life, according to Donald (2010)’s book Looking at philosophy. He asserts that, in order for one to determine if an object has fulfilled its function, the object must first be taken into consideration. Aristotle gives an animal based illustration; if an animal is fast, the success of a hunter would be comparable to that of the animal. Through this justification, Aristotle believed that for a human being to be good, his or her purpose in life should be fulfilled.
Nevertheless, as advanced species in the animal kingdom, human beings have to go beyond fulfilling their animalistic functions such as eating and reproducing. In order for a human being to live a good life, he must apply intellectuality and resonance, which he believed, to be unique traits of the human character and resultantly, a reflection of purpose.
Aristotle recognized that pleasure must play a role in the good life. He recognized the relevance of balancing acts while indulging in acts of pleasure in the sense that a life of pleasure was more of an animalistic behavior (Donald 2010). Aristotle’s believed that the key to good life was in the fulfilling one’s function in a manner that balances the pleasure of this life.
Aristotle’s definition of a good life is, in my opinion, to specific to be applied in particular instance of human behavior. I see his ideology to be closely related to mine. However, access to more than a thousand years’ worth of amassed knowledge, I recognize that what is best for me may not be best for my counterpart and that others must find their own path into happiness on a journey of their own. Furthermore, knowledge of good and bad cannot be satisfactory as a number of variables are beyond our control. For instance, wealth and health are not within our power for possession and we cannot establish the initial conditions of our environment. In short, we cannot make fortune smile upon us. Thus, moral virtue is no guarantee for a good life.
According to Kant’s philosophy of the good life, nothing is entirely good as it could at any given instance, be attached to something bad or be misused for bad purposes, be it the mental talents such as characters and gifts that are supposed to bear prosperity. This implies that goodwill is not good because of that which it achieves, despite its ability to produce good results. Goodwill is good by virtue of existence, the sole purpose of which, is to produce good. Hence, whether it produces good or not, it is in itself good. Kant believed that one should have goodwill as the most prized possession.
According to Kant (1993), happiness is not a product of reason but rather reason actually reduces people’s happiness. He emphasizes that reason must produce will which must be the supreme food and the condition of every other, inclusive of the desire for happiness. Kant defined goodwill as the commitment to fulfill one’s duty simply because it is his obligation to do so. For instance, a human act is considered to be morally good if it is done in for the sake of duty. Duty, in his context, refers to being free of inclination, relating it to the notion of pure respect, and morals – which lie in the conception of the law – that is only possible through rationality (Kant 1993).
In summary, his belief that there is a prime categorical imperative that each being must follow: to act on the maxim that you can will to be a universal law. Such maxims and morals action must have no contradictions and should maintain the purity of its will or purpose.
Despite the acute nature of his philosophy, his ideology of categorical imperative has some social implications, that we must treat people as end in themselves and not as a means to an end outside the existing relationship. Things are means to an end while persons are means to themselves. A number of questions can be raised from Kant’s philosophy. Is it really possible for a person’s goodwill to be caused by an inclination? If this is the case, isn’t goodwill an inclination in itself?
In my opinion, one must be positively stable in every aspect of his life, that is, financially and security wise, nonetheless, he will be able to support his family with basic needs. Finances will always be an issue, but if properly handled, it forms stability.
Donald, Palmer. “Looking at philosophy: the unbearable heaviness of philosophy made lighter/Donald Palmer.” (2010). Print.
Kant, Immanuel. Grounding for the metaphysics of morals: With on a supposed right to lie because of philanthropic concerns. Hackett Publishing, 1993. Print.