Ancient Greek phisosopher Aristotle: Pursuit of happiness not a destination but a journey

Α Decrease font Enlarge font
Ancient Greek phisosopher Aristotle: Pursuit of happiness not a destination but a journeyArticle in the The Wall Street Journal about Aristotle’s model for happiness and its relevance today

It’s that most elusive of goals for humans: being happy, defined by many as not a destination but a way of travel, a journey, but it all goes back to Aristotle, who, in his inimitable way, defined it rather simply as an internal state of mind, finding contentment by living life the best way possible, without purely material goals, thenationalherald.com reports in the following article:

It seems so much at odds in today’s laser-fast world of swirling social media, Instagram fame that lives for seconds, a blitzkrieg pace with a banzai mindset of rushing, doing, running, chasing, all of it coming full circle and leaving most people weary and empty.

Of course, he lived in the 4th Century B.C. when there weren’t the electronic distractions so prevalent today that people even bring their computers and cell phones to bed like wired security blankets that bring them blue light blazes of unease.

Edith Hall, a British scholar of classics, specializing in ancient Greek literature and cultural history, and Professor in the Department of Classics and Centre for Hellenic Studies at King’s College, London, wrote in The Wall Street Journal about Aristotle’s model for happiness and its relevance today.

“Happiness has always been something distinctively coveted by Americans. The inalienable right to pursue it, along with life and liberty, was enshrined by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence,” she wrote.

“If we are to pursue it, however, we need to define it. And to understand what Jefferson really meant by happiness, we must turn to a thinker who influenced him,” she added – Aristotle.

He wrote of happiness that, “This we choose always for its own sake, and never with a view to anything further: whereas honor, pleasure, intellect – in fact every excellence – we choose for their own sakes, it is true, but we choose them also with a view to happiness, conceiving that through their instrumentality we shall be happy: but no man chooses happiness with a view to them, nor in fact with a view to any other thing whatsoever.” Classic.

Hall, among the world’s foremost experts on ancient Greek philosophy and thinking, said happiness seems like one of the rarest commodities today in a mean-spirited world where clashes are more common than civility, manners, good behavior, and decency – all in short supply.

Aristotle’s ethical system – as described in his major treatises, the Nicomachean Ethics and the Eudemian Ethics – revolves around the idea that the goal of human life is happiness, which he called eudaimonia, wrote Hall, knowing that in Greek, the root eu means “well” or “good,” and daimonian suggests a guardian spirit or one’s lot in life.

Aristotle didn’t equate happiness with wealth, pleasure, or fame, the Holy Trinity for today’s business billionaires and Internet nouveau riche and celebrities who believe a Maserati is the Holy Grail of Happiness before the gas tank runs dry.

Aristotle spent years with the Macedonian royal family of King Philip II, Alexander the Great’s despotic father, who she said was ruthless, acquisitive, and addicted to conspicuous consumption, much like people today who think a gold-plated toilet shows they’ve made it.

Hall said Aristotle saw the results of Philip’s plotting and putting lieutenants, wives, concubines and children against each other, the result being endlessly plotting bouts of reciprocal murder providing the script for Game of Thrones and all theater.

Hall said Aristotle saw that lifestyle brought people misery and worry as the King and his court thought possessions or hedonism and sensory gratification and pleasures of the flesh made them happy even though they likely knew otherwise in their hearts.

Real happiness, Aristotle believed, comes from reaching your potential and becoming the best version of yourself, said Hall, with the philosopher believing in the wisdom inscribed over the Oracle of Delphi: Know Thyself.

Aristotle studied the soul as well as the heart and mind and analyzed character traits – in Greek, ethos, from which the word ethics is derived. He knew how libido, courage, anger, how we treat other people, and how money is regarded by people, and he said happiness comes from cultivating each one in the correct amount, so that it is a virtue (arete) rather than a vice, she added.

This is the “mean” that sets Aristotelian ethics apart from other ancient moral systems as he didn’t preach anger as a vice and patience a virtue, believing each commodity in the right measure is healthy and virtuous in and of itself and not exclusive of each other. Without knowing or feeling anger, a person wouldn’t understand or appreciate patience because there would be none and there would be no fighting for principle. Failing to feel anger when wronged may be a vice, he said, but so is undue anger.

That applies to other qualities, including knowing not to spend recklessly or without purpose, especially among the rich, who did not know the value of money because they had so much and didn’t understand the sufferings of those who didn’t, and to their being cheap, which he despised.

Hall said faithful followers of Aristotle’s way acknowledge their best and their worst moral characteristics and work continuously at self-improvement and try to develop habits of generosity, honesty, responsibility, integrity, fairness, kindness and good humor.

That brings its own reward, moral self-sufficiency that even misfortune can’t fully erase whether it’s bereavement, bankruptcy, or sheer bad luck that everyone experiences because no one goes through life without loss.

His prescription for happiness then isn’t an elixir but the dose of self-knowledge and fulfilled potential, without hunting for the tangible which fades and disappears like a vapor. Aristotle knew, and appreciated the intrinsic fecundity of breeding virtues in measure to ourselves, friends, neighbors and citizens, wrote Hall, his wisdom resonating today, happily for those who know it.

Read more at thenationalherald.com

RELATED TOPICS: GreeceGreek tourism newsTourism in GreeceGreek islandsHotels in GreeceTravel to GreeceGreek destinations Greek travel marketGreek tourism statisticsGreek tourism report

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons License: CC-BY-SA Copyright: Szilas

 

Tornos
  1. 23/03 14:01

    Main opposition leader Mitsotakis visits Greek island of Corfu

  2. 23/03 13:57

    Montreal celebrates Greek Independence Day on March 24

  3. 23/03 13:30

    Experience Greek island of Lemnos through its flavours and its people

  4. 23/03 12:33

    Bank of Greece: Travel receipts grow by 53.2% during January

  5. 23/03 12:23

    Greek banks contemplate even more ambitious NPL reduction target

  6. 23/03 11:01

    Card use growth in Greece shows first signs of fatigue

  7. 23/03 10:28

    GreekTech event to support start-ups from Greece to expand in US

  8. 22/03 17:20

    Talks between Greece and Northern Macedonia on history, archaeology and education

  9. 22/03 17:03

    President's message to Diaspora Greeks for March 25 national holiday

  10. 22/03 16:52

    Saudi Arabian archaeological treasures show at Benaki Museum in Athens

  11. 22/03 16:41

    Norwegian energy giant proposes huge floating wind farm in the Aegean

  12. 22/03 16:30

    Seminar and diving tour in Greek island of Alonnisos

  13. 22/03 15:59

    First “Argo” awards to eight prominent Diaspora Greeks

  14. 22/03 15:58

    Electricity gradually returning to Crete following explosion at power plant (video)

  15. 22/03 15:43

    Ferry services back to normal in Greece

  16. 22/03 15:12

    3.8 billion Athens metro projects to be funded by NSRF 2021 - 2027

  17. 22/03 15:02

    Road infrastructure to upgrade connectivity between Greece and Bulgaria

  18. 22/03 14:16

    London’s youngest Michelin star chef comes from Athens

  19. 22/03 12:10

    Greek island of Lipsi near Patmos taps the Dutch tourist market

  20. 22/03 10:35

    Mykonos reaching 12,000 euros per square metre for high-end properties

  21. 22/03 10:08

    Restored church of Saint Anne and Tanners’ mosque delivered in Famagusta

  22. 21/03 22:35

    National Hellenic Museum to mark Greek Independence Day on March 23

  23. 21/03 22:26

    Strong winds disrupt ferry services from Greek ports of Piraeus and Rafina

  24. 21/03 22:04

    Direct tourism revenues at €16 billion in Greece for 2018

  25. 21/03 21:30

    Reuters: European Union offers UK delay till May 22 for Brexit

  26. 21/03 21:29

    Greek unemployment eases again during February 2019

  27. 21/03 21:00

    The largest road projects in the revised NSRF 2014 - 2020 program for Greece

  28. 21/03 19:52

    Trivago awards 2019: The 30 top-rated and top-performing hotels in Greece

  29. 21/03 19:20

    Fraport's fastest growing division is Greek subsidiary

  30. 21/03 17:13

    British Library returns historic documents stolen from Greek monastery

  31. 21/03 17:00

    Greek Minister in North Macedonia for talks on cooperation in transport

  32. 21/03 15:53

    Inchcape to participate in Posidonia Shipping Forum 2019 in Athens

  33. 21/03 14:37

    Exhibition on maritime tradition of Cyprus in Lisbon

  34. 21/03 13:47

    IMF spokesperson: Greece 'on a much better track' due to reforms

  35. 21/03 11:43

    American Airlines to operate new flight from Athens to Chicago

  36. 20/03 23:46

    Privatized Thessaloniki Port Authority launches €180 million investment plan

  37. 20/03 23:38

    Travel report: Wonderful springtime destinations in the Peloponnese, Greece

  38. 20/03 23:33

    Athens shopping mall's motion to open on Sundays during summer rejected

  39. 20/03 23:22

    Greece’s TravelFest to be held in Athens on April 6th-7th 2019

  40. 20/03 23:18

    Top cruise operators arrange date for Posidonia event forum in Athens

  41. 20/03 23:08

    NY Times: Golden Visa investors and tourism support Greece’s recovery

  42. 20/03 22:15

    Katakouzenos House Museum: Another hidden cultural gem in Athens

  43. 20/03 21:46

    Successor scheme for primary residence protection tabled on Friday

  44. 20/03 20:59

    Greek scouts' initiatives ahead of World Water Day 2019

  45. 20/03 20:46

    History tourism report: Gossip employed as a weapon in Ancient Greece

  46. 20/03 20:35

    Tourism: Hotels target Millennials and focus on sustainability and advanced technology

  47. 20/03 20:27

    Diaspora in South African celebrates Greek Independence Day

  48. 20/03 20:15

    EU Commission's Costello optimistic over prospects of Greek economy

  49. 20/03 19:31

    Laudamotion flights between Athens-Vienna from €19.99

  50. 20/03 17:59

    Robert Kennedy’s daughter supports return of Parthenon Marbles to Greece

  51. 20/03 15:50

    US State Secretary present in Greece-Cyprus-Israel summit in Jerusalem

  52. 20/03 15:41

    More than 5,000 drunk drivers stopped across Greece within a week

  53. 20/03 14:32

    Gas station owners federation asks for reduction of taxes on fuel in Greece

  54. 20/03 13:43

    Spring Equinox and supermoon to coincide in sky over Athens tonight

  55. 20/03 11:15

    First cruise ship arrived in island of Rhodes for 2019

  56. 20/03 01:47

    Global cruise Industry meets at Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum 2019

  57. 20/03 01:22

    Greek main opposition leader vows stalled Hellenikon development push

  58. 19/03 23:17

    Study: Santorini overcrowded but tourism keeps propelling Greek recovery

  59. 19/03 21:37

    Greek merchant shipping fleet grew in numbers during January

  60. 19/03 20:40

    Pick up a book before your flight at the Athens International airport

  61. 19/03 20:40

    Greece and Israel set to install new marine radar in island of Crete

  62. 19/03 20:18

    Greece's 14 top railway projects in the revised EU funding for 2014 - 2020

  63. 19/03 20:12

    Piraeus container port en route for top ranking in Mediterranean Sea

  64. 19/03 19:45

    Alternate FΜ: Greece prepared against any and all Brexit scenarios

  65. 19/03 18:31

    OECD's Secretary General Gurria: Greece on the right track to sustainable growth

  66. 19/03 16:28

    Piraeus University marks 20th anniversary of International and European Studies Dept.

  67. 19/03 14:52

    Sotheby’s: Strong interest in luxury properties on Greek islands

  68. 19/03 12:39

    Pre-bookings by Russian tourists in Crete rise by 10%

  69. 19/03 10:51

    Four investors show interest in Thriasio II hub near Athens

  70. 19/03 02:06

    Breathtaking aerial footage of Mt. Smolikas in Greece

  71. 19/03 01:52

    Greek soap manufacturer Papoutsanis sets up subsidiary in Poland

  72. 19/03 01:05

    Tourism investments dominate Greek Development Law funding

  73. 18/03 23:48

    Strict customs rules on Greek borders with North Macedonia

  74. 18/03 23:48

    Greek President declares final round of World Robot Olympiad in Athens

  75. 18/03 23:44

    Greek Deputy Prime Minister meets with OECD Secretary General

  76. 18/03 23:37

    Thessaloniki honours memory of Holocaust victims with silent march

  77. 18/03 23:23

    Online applications for rent subsidy unveil instances of tax evasion in Greece

  78. 18/03 22:05

    Greek runner won Athens Half Marathon 2019 in record time

  79. 18/03 21:44

    National Documentation Centre: 6 in 10 Greeks abroad wish to return home

  80. 18/03 20:33

    Crete University launches program to educate young traffic offenders

  81. 18/03 19:41

    6th International Marathon of Rhodes to take place on April 14

  82. 18/03 19:36

    Greece finally expects its Land Registry to be completed by 2021

  83. 18/03 18:12

    Vacant job positions up 193.4% in Greece during Q4 2018

  84. 18/03 17:27

    Bernard Levy in Athens for his 'Looking for Europe' play on April 1

  85. 18/03 16:57

    Yield on Greek five-year bond falls to historic low on Monday

  86. 18/03 15:47

    Rosemary, acacias and oleanders planted around Thessaloniki's Sheikh Sou forest

  87. 18/03 15:17

    US President Trump marks Greek Independence Day at White House (video)

  88. 18/03 13:40

    Tourist arrivals in Cyprus reach new record in first two months of 2019

  89. 18/03 11:34

    Four embassies present event to take place in Athens on Thursday

  90. 18/03 00:03

    New shipwreck discovery proves Greek historian Herodotus right after 2,500 years

  91. 17/03 21:46

    Stavros Niarchos Foundation supports Greek UPenn education program

  92. 17/03 11:34

    Find fresh foods in open air "Laiki" markets across Greece

  93. 16/03 23:55

    Detachment of Greek Evzones in Anzac Day celebration in Adelaide

  94. 16/03 21:52

    Marking The International Day of Greek Language and Culture in Astoria (video)

  95. 16/03 21:15

    NY professor finds philosophy in ancient Garden of Aristotle in Athens

  96. 16/03 16:09

    Integrated casino resort at Helleniko site to extend over 634,000 square meters

  97. 16/03 15:27

    Greece and Cyprus to jointly launch interactive portal for tourism

  98. 16/03 14:33

    WTTC: Greek tourism sector growing over three times faster than wider economy

  99. 15/03 23:19

    Australian Prime Minister visits Greek Diaspora centre in Melbourne

  100. 15/03 22:02

    4th-century fountain to return to public view in Greek city of Thessaloniki