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Happiness has been pursued all through history, to the times of Plato and even today where there is a lot of dynamics in the society. Plato asserted that happiness is realized when the human society lives in harmony with what is naturally available
Happiness has been pursued all through history, to the times of Plato and even today where there is a lot of dynamics in the society. Plato asserted that happiness is realized when the human society lives in harmony with what is naturally available (Soccio p.20). The contemporary society is faced with a lot of challenges like equality, justice and morality. Contrary to Plato’s expectations, people living in this modern age are looking for happiness elsewhere. All Plato’s sense of happiness and its pursuit thereof is completely lost. We may be left to wonder whether Plato's view of happiness (Eudaimonia) is still applicable today. Living based on experiences and the nature around is believed to be a true source of happiness according to Plato’s ethics. However, it is unlikely that the people in this modern age would embrace this concept in their pursuit of happiness.
It is no doubt that Plato’s ideas have a lot of sense in the search for happiness. Morality is the basic value put forward by Plato in order to access happiness. Morality is based on four cardinal virtues as discussed by Plato: courage, justice, wisdom and moderation (Morrison, pp. 1-24). These are virtues that have been lost in the society we are living in today. If morality in its totality is anything to go by based on these four virtues, then happiness in this sense is unachievable. While people in this age would pursue wisdom and moderation, they may be lacking in courage and carrying out justice. For Plato, true happiness can only be realized through all these four cardinal virtues; not lacking in any one of them.
The wisdom Plato is talking about is connected to intellect. In this case, the wise individual makes use of the mind to comprehend moral realities and again use it in life. Rationality guides a wise individual in making quality choices that lead to happiness (Soccio p.166-69). Courage is required to face adversity in the times we are living in. There are a lot of insecurities in the contemporary setting and very few people would exude calm and confidence in counteracting such forces. It is a battle field where people are supposed to be convinced of what they believe in. The present society, however, has few such principled individuals. People like Plato and Socrates (who chose to die rather than betray his convictions) are lacking and therefore, it would be hard to pursue happiness in this manner.
Self-control and temperance culminating into moderation is connected to the desires held by human beings. There are very many desires held by people in our society and definitely this is a good effort. The issue in this is that many people nowadays desire the good things in ways that can be said to be wrong. The desires for sex, drink and food have completely controlled the lives of people in the current society. It is never wrong to desire these things but the motives have been wrong (Morrison, pp. 1-24). Plato’s search of happiness through moderation is thus challenged in this modern set up.
The search for justice has been the order of every day in our contemporary world. People want to seek justice to be happy. Everyone wants to be impeccable in their own world. Plato connects this to the overall character of an individual (Soccio p. 362). However, this general character is wanting in some aspect. Meeting the other virtues of courage, wisdom and moderation is important to define a person’s general character needed to pursue happiness. The just individual will have a healthy soul. This disregards the desires and appetites of having honor. It is a great challenge to many people who have been overtaken by greed and heavy arrogance in our modern society. All these challenges affect the virtues listed by Plato in an effort to search for happiness. Therefore, Plato's view of happiness (Eudaimonia) will still remain a challenge to be applicable today.
Morrison, Donald. “The Happiness of the City and the Happiness of the Individual in Plato's Republic,” Ancient Philosophy, 2001, 21: 1–24. Print
Soccio, Douglas. “Archetypes of Wisdom: An introduction to Philosophy.” Cengage Learning. 2009, p. 20, p.166-69, p.362. Print