Happiness In Plato's Gorgias Essay

1819 words - 7 pages

To live a happy life is one of the most basic and popular goals that people have for their life. Yet when we say we want to be happy do we really understand happiness and its differing definitions. In the Gorgias, Callicles disagrees with what Socrates considers it takes to be happy. Just as each individual has different ideas about what happiness entails. Life includes many attributes; having wealth and power, fulfilling appetites, desirable personal characteristics, and pain and pleasure. To be happy we must live in the thin line between being excessive and not needing anything. A person's basic desire is to have the attributes but keeping our wants in moderation is the key to happiness and in addition your happiness should not interfere with anyone else's happiness.First, let us try to dissect one of the biggest attributes that people consider when they talk of happiness, wealth and power. A first instinct when you ask a person about their happiness or what it would take for them to be happy would be to say that they would want the power to rule over people as well as wanting all the wealth in the world. But looking at this thought more closely we quickly realize that this would not necessarily be a good thing. Would you want to have the power because you gained it through violence or fear? Would you welcome the fact that someone had to die, be injured whether physically or emotionally for you to gain or maintain that power? The answer is no, you would not have wanted to gain power through these means. A person would not want to have power at the expense of another person's suffering. The guilt at having caused harm to another person would make it utterly impossible to be happy. The very thing you did to gain power would cause you to suffer.At the same token if you gained that power through unjust means you would always be expecting some recourse for you actions. Revenge is a powerful emotion and people will go to extreme measures to avenge where they think they have been wronged. Would a person want to live their life knowing that from the same source where they gained their power, a possibility for revenge lurks? Could you rest knowing that you and your family were in danger constantly? No, you would not want to live your life under these circumstances. An individual could never rest because they always have to be ready to defend their power. Being on constant alert certainly does not sound like the recipe for being happy. Power can only be good when a person gains it through the right means, without insult or injury to anybody else. Where everybody respects them and is content with them having power.Some of these same thoughts go with having wealth. Would you want to have wealth because you took it from somebody else? Would you want wealth knowing the other individual is doing without? No, person could not be happy under these circumstances. An individual could not live a happy and normal life knowing that because they have wealth somebody...

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