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What Makes An Individual Happy? Essay

1623 words - 6 pages

R. El Hosseiny
Philosophical thinking
Dr. Jason Blum
8/12/2013
Philosophical thinking; the connection between virtue and happiness
Introduction
What makes individual happy? Sociologists argue that the quality of social support; the social capital in family and friends is responsible, economists claim that a high income and consumption is the only reason. On the other hand, psychologists argue emphasizing on the essence of mental health, personality and personal state of mind, various philosophers have argued that virtue is critical to happiness. In analyzing the concept of eudaimonia, Flanagan argues that the flourishing happiness or the flourishing feeling which leads to happiness is often constituted by wisdom and virtue; more so the typical virtues in which compassion is highest. It is only in virtue and wisdom that individuals realize eudaimonia as given by Buddha.
Virtue may be defined under two distinct conceptions. According to the Aristotelian definition, moral virtue is the habitual disposition which is coupled with choice, lying in a mean comparative to individuals, a mean which is determined by reason, through which an individual of practical reason would conclude it. However, the Buddhist view argues that the Aristotle list of virtue is a piecemeal; the Buddhist view holds that the virtue of lovingkindness and compassion which lack in the case of Aristotle moral virtues must exist. The Buddhist image of happiness is defined on most occasions in terms of compassion and (Karuna) and wisdom(Prajuna); with Karuna being often substituted for virtue, Sila, and is conceptualized as the primary virtue as well as the closest relative to Metta (lovingkindness), with the two constituting the heart of Sila (virtue).
According to Flanagan, the conception of the objective of Buddhist practice as a way of eudaimonia is perceived to be involving a tranquil state of mind which comes from the belief that an individual is living a worthwhile life constituted or caused by virtue, wisdom and mindfulness(166). However, there is little evidence in support of the claim that there is connection between virtue and eudemonia according to the Buddhist practice. This paper examines Buddhism setting forth a case in support of Flanagan’s claim that there exists a connection between virtue and happiness.
The connection between virtue and eudaimonia
Until the contemporary era, virtue and happiness were supposed to be fundamentally intertwined. An individual attained happiness by living in a moral upright way. The thinkers instructed individuals not to follow their base instincts for material possessions and sensual pleasures, but instead the high potential for moderation and compassion. The better passage was considered to be hard work, which was advanced through training, study, self-discipline and the imitating of great people. This philosophy was common with the western traditions; especially the Greek being led by the Aristotle. However, it was...

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