Philosophy Assignment

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Honors Philosophy

Contents

US cultural concepts and philosophies of good life. 1

Aristotle ideologies of good life and capitalism.. 2

Gautama Buddha. 2

Jesus Christ’s teaching about wealth. 2

John Stuart Mill 3

John Humphrey Noyes. 3

Conclusion. 3

US cultural concepts and philosophies of good life

Philosophers across the world have written several books to explain the concept of the ‘good life’. Philosophers have not yet discovered the true concepts of the good life and are still assessing different cultures and traditions to describe how someone can live a good life (Kar,2017). Many people believe that they can achieve living a good life by exploring different experiences that give them the joy and satisfaction of life. Human beings consider themselves living a good life if they find a purpose for their lives and can draw happiness from different things they do. In a capitalist world, people who live a comfortable life with adequate resources, luxury, have power, higher social status, and face few economic challenges think that they live a good life (Kar,2017). This paper will compare how the united culture uses capitalism and a concept of a good life with the ideologies of philosophers like Aristotle, Gautama Buddha, Mill, Noyes, and Jesus.

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In the American culture, people who achieve their dreams in life think that they live a good life. In a capitalist society, the poor feel like they live a bad life and admire people who have good houses, big cars, have better living standards, and can take their children to good private schools (Kar, 2017). Many people claim that hard work is the key to success. However, there are other people who have a lot of wealth but desire to live simpler lives. In Mexico, drug lords engage in illegal businesses like human trafficking and the sale of contraband goods to amass wealth. In the eyes of a capitalist, these individuals live good life because of their elevated social class. However, we find middle class and low income people contended with their lives and consider themselves living a good life (Kar, 2017). From a religious perspective, people who amass too much wealth do not live good lives. They have invested in material things but have not invested in their spiritual life. Christianity considers very wealthy people unlucky because after concentrating their lives on capitalism, they will die and leave all the wealth on earth. Ancient and recent philosophers have also raised different opinions of good life.

Aristotle ideologies of good life and capitalism

According to Aristotle (384BC- 322BC) claimed that human life was factored by the consideration of means and the achievement of goals in life. When people want to achieve something (a goal), they involve practical thinking strategies which will assist in bearing the end goal (Michalos& Hatch, 2020). Aristotle claimed that when people grow older, people begin to focus on their actions and the purpose for every act they partake. They come up with different plan that will assist in achieving long term and short term goals. Aristotle believed that human beings meet their ends when they flourish, live well and have a good life. Everyone has acquired desires on the things that they want to achieve and the natural desires like getting food, which is a desire that everyone must have. Therefore, good life is obtained when people have acquired possessions and things that provide happiness (Michalos& Hatch, 2020). Aristotle pointed out that the first component of good life is acquiring bodily goods like good health, vigor, vitality, and emotional pleasure. External goods like food, shelter, clothing and sleep are the basic requirements needed by man to live good life. The final component is the spiritual goods where people invest in love, knowledge, self-esteem, honor and skills. If someone can balance these components to achieve positive ends to their lives, they can achieve good life. 

Gautama Buddha

Buddha was born in a time when people believed in gods and classified different actions as good and evil. Buddha had different philosophies about suffering and happiness in life. After going out on a quest for enlightenment, he came up with certain philosophes explaining what human actions do to their happiness and suffering. His main ideology of god life was that people obtain happiness if they free themselves from attachments and suffering (Shakya, 2020). He was not against wealth but believed that as we amass more wealth, we become attached to possessions and fear losing what we acquired. The fear of loss removes happiness from their lives and deteriorates their quality of life. Therefore, when we amass wealth in a capitalist economy, we should use honest means to acquire property and also practice the art of generosity to reduce our attachments to possessions (Shakya, 2020). If we use crude means of acquiring possessions, we will be filled with guilt after amassing property and will not be guaranteed to live a good life. 

Jesus Christ’s teaching about wealth

Many people have had contradictory thoughts about Jesus Christ’s ideologies about wealth and poverty. As some might think that He advocated for investing in spirituality and living noble life without a lot of wealth (Collins, 2017). However, his teachings showed that he was not against wealth and did not encourage people to live in poverty. When he was ministering on earth, he mingles with rich people like the centurion (Luke 7:1-5), a young rich ruler (Matt. 19:16-24), and Lazarus who was a rich tax collector. He also accepted invitations from wealthy individuals and dined with them on rich tables (Collins, 2017). However, we have no records of Jesus owning a house or earthly possessions. The fact that he interacted the rich shows that he supported wealth and encouraged people to live a nobble life, help the poor, and invest in their spiritual richness.

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Jesus asked the rich to learn the art of helping the poor and use their possessions to bring happiness to other people (Mark 14:7). He also taught that wealth can be a stumbling block to spiritual richness and hinder someone from getting to heaven (Luke 14:33). According to Jesus’s teachings, capitalists should embrace morality and use their wealth to do good to the world. They should also watch their possessions not to make them fall into sin and miss the kingdom of heaven, which was much better than earthly possessions. Therefore, capitalism should be balanced with spiritual enrichment to make someone live a good life on earth and in heaven.

John Stuart Mill

Mill taught about Utilitarianism where human beings should use their powers to bring happiness and joy to the human race. In a capitalist environment, people should amass wealth to achieve happiness to the world and avoid bringing any form of pain or suffering to the population (Chakrabarti, 2019). Since every individual interest has self-interests, they should observe ethics when amassing wealth and using their abilities to obtain happiness. He also said that some pleasures are better than other pleasures in life (Chakrabarti, 2019). A good life for human beings requires them to use social morals to do public good, acquire knowledge, and obtain economic freedom. He concluded that people have social freedom to make choices, but must make wise decisions that improve their lives and benefit those around them.

John Humphrey Noyes

John Humphrey Noyes (1811-86) believed that human beings should use their capabilities to increase in wealth and acquire property. He believed that wealth was a sign of God’s blessings while poverty showed that people had failed to achieve their full potential on earth. As they focused on the heavenly present promised by Jesus Christ, they should also invest on earth to live good life (Parker, 2016). His ideologies about businesses showed that people should investing worldly possessions and also use them to serve the Lord (Parker, 2016). However, they should not allow an increase in material object to reduce their spiritual possessions. Good life is achieved when we balance worldly possessions with spiritual richness.

Conclusion

Based on the philosophical perspectives about good life and wealth, we can agree that many philosophers did not encourage poverty. Being a capitalists and acquiring wealth is good for the human life. People can live healthy and enjoy their lives if they have wealth to afford the high cost of living. However, philosophers want people to balance their material things with spiritual possessions to obtain happiness in life. They should use social morals to direct their capitalist activities and ensure that what they do in quest for wealth benefits other people and brings happiness to the world.

References

Kar, B. B. (2017). Moral Critique of Capitalism in Keynes. TURKISH JOURNAL OF BUSINESS ETHICS, 10(2), 297-302.

Michalos, A. C., & Hatch, P. M. (2020). Good societies, financial inequality and secrecy, and a good life: from Aristotle to Piketty. Applied Research in Quality of Life, 15(4), 1005-1054.

Shakya, R. P. (2020). Four Sources of Happiness in Buddhism. Journal of International Buddhist Studies, 10(2), 167-178.

Collins, R. F. (2017). Wealth, Wages, and the Wealthy: New Testament Insight for Preachers and Teachers. Liturgical Press.

Chakrabarti, R. M. (2019). Happiness and Well-Being: Wealth, Pleasure and Virtue in Good Life. Notion Press.

Parker, R. A. (2016). A Yankee Saint: John Humphrey Noyes and the Oneida Community. Pickle Partners Publishing.

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