The answer and comprehend. Though one understands

The foundation of happiness and how one can attain it, is an ongoing complex argument that many have attempted to answer and comprehend. Though one understands the concept of what happiness is to them, whether it be from materialistic items or being abstemious, there is no concrete answer on what is true happiness, how is it achieved and should be taught. Aristotle and John Stuart Mill are two philosophers who have come close to answering the argument of happiness. Both men have researched and studied to construct each other’s own detailed explanation on what happiness is and how one can achieve it. In Aristotle’s, Nicomachean Ethics, his work proposes the idea that happiness comes from virtue. Essentially what Aristotle believed was, that happiness was the ultimate end in an individual’s life and can be attained through the practice of virtues and acting accordingly through reason. On the contrary to Aristotle’s perspective, in Mill’s work, Utilitarianism, he conveys the idea that happiness consisted through the greatest amount of pleasure and least amount of pain. In other words, what Mill is trying to make clear is, that an individual should solely choose and make the right decisions for the benefit of the majority. Though both perspectives hold truths to them, Aristotle’s case seems more realistic and reasonable than Mill’s and should be a practice for one to follow. In Nicomachean Ethics, by Aristotle, he starts his thought process by stating how, “every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and pursuit, is thought to aim at some good” (Aristotle 1). Here, he makes it clear that naturally every action and decision that an individual makes, it is essentially aimed to be some type of good. Aristotle goes on to later state that, “the chief good is evidently final”(Aristotle 5). This quote explains how Aristotle’s belief that the purpose of an individual’s life is to reach the final end. By making sense of these two quotes, it sums up the whole idea of Aristotle’s definition of happiness. The purpose of one’s life should be centered around reaching the final end and that in itself should be good. Overall happiness is to be a complete and sufficient good. This will ultimately lead to happiness. Although, that statement just raises the question if the purpose is to reach the ultimate end and that end should be good, how does one go about to reach it. Aristotle offers and explains a solution to this situation. If one is to reach this goal, Aristotle says that an individual may attain happiness, if they approach it by doing what happiness is consisted of. In other words, Aristotle believed that if one is to approach happiness, it should be through the practice of virtues and acting accordingly through reason. An example he offers to help clarify the statement is when he talks about function and nature. Aristotle says, “in general, for all things that have a function or activity, the good and the ‘well’ is thought to reside in the function, so would it seem to be for man, if he has a function” (Aristotle 5). He notes in his work, just like plants and animals, all consists in their functioning according to their nature and do it well. As for the function of man, Aristotle thinks the proper function for a human being consists in reasoning and acting in accordance with reason. He later on gives another example of a lyre-player. For a regular lyre-player his function is to play the lyre, but for a good lyre-player his function is to play the lyre and to do it well. To summarize all of Aristotle’s beliefs is if one is to be content and happy with life, he or she must act and live their life reasonably and rationally, for the ultimate goal of doing something good at the end. In Mill’s work, Utilitarianism, he talks about how happiness should be for everyone, not just for oneself. According to Mill, any activity or action that is considered to be good should promote happiness and affect all. In the title of his work, utilitarianism is defined as, “the ethical doctrine that virtue is based on utility, and that conduct should be directed toward promoting the greatest happiness of the greatest number of persons” (Collins English Dictionary, 2012). The title, itself explains Mill’s perspective of happiness. Mill’s philosophical idea about happiness is essentially the one that applies to the greatest number and that contains the most pleasure and little pain, therefore any little action or activity that brings pleasure and/or happiness to more than oneself is overall happiness and a good life. In this quote, it helps clarify more the concept that Mill is trying to convey:”The utilitarian morality does recognise that human beings can sacrifice their own greatest good for the good of others; it merely refuses to admit that the sacrifice is itself a good. It regards as wasted any sacrifice that doesn’t increase, or tend to increase, the sum total of happiness. The only self-renunciation that it applauds is devotion to the happiness, or to some of the means to happiness, of others. . . . I must again repeat something that the opponents of utilitarianism are seldom fair enough to admit, namely that the happiness that forms the utilitarian standard of what is right in conduct is not . . . the agent’s own happiness but . . . that of all concerned. As between his own happiness and that of others.” (Mill 14)Mil insists that utilitarianism is to set on a larger spectrum and that everyone’s happiness should be counted for. Those actions or “sacrifices” that do not benefit the whole, is a waste of happiness. People should achieve to live virtuous and put their contribution on spreading happiness around. An example to help visualize Mill’s perspective is, seeing a young girl cry because she did not get a red balloon. Passing the crying girl, there is a boy who happens to have a red balloon. Feeling sad and sympathetic towards the girl, the boy decides to give the young girl his red balloon. Here we can see that because of the boy “sacrificing” his ballon, he has made the girl happy, therefore making him happy for doing the good deed. This little exchange showcases Mill’s belief of how happiness is attained by the greatest number and consists of pleasure and no pain. Having defined and described both philosopher’s viewpoint on happiness, one cannot help but side more towards Aristotle’s ethics of happiness. Though both men’s perspectives hold  truths to some extent, unlike Aristotle’s philosophy about happiness and living well, Mill’s philosophy contains too many contradictions. Some of these contradictions are on how Mill believes that the only happiness that should be accounted for, is the happiness and pleasure of the majority. Referring back to the example of the young girl and boy, let’s say that before the young boy happened to come across the young girl, he was running away from the balloon seller because he has stolen the red balloon. That detail changes the whole atmosphere of what was suppose to be a nice deed. One cannot ignore the fact that the balloon was in fact stolen thus making the whole story bad instead of good. The absence of pain cannot be applied because the pain of the balloon seller is present, defeating Mill’s principle of attaining happiness through pleasure and no pain. Another contradiction in Mill’s philosophy is how hel does not take into account individual happiness. Yes, it is important, for one should take into consideration to help loved ones and their community, but the way Mill phrases his philosophy seems to make it look like  one is to slave away and not take care of their own needs. If one puts too much emphasizes on others needs and wants, when does one have the time to let themselves experience their own pleasures and leisure time? Another problem within Mill’s work is the high standard presented that people are to be selfless and self-sacrificing seems too much of a implausible claim. Things like greed, vanity and other repulsive behaviors exists, thus making it difficult to expect every human being to be self righteous. There are many loopholes in Mills’ philosophy to demonstrate that this method of ethics for happiness, though can work from time to time, is too much of a far fetched idea. Using and following Aristotle’s work of ethics on happiness is much more reliable and realistic for an individual to use as a guide to achieve a good life. Starting again how Aristotle believed that for man to live a complete good and sufficient life, requires one just to desire to do well, be rational and partake in actions that are essentially good. Happiness does not come through in the state of being happy, but through active engagements. This statement is the absolute truth. One cannot expect for happiness to easily come to them, they must desire that happiness enough to be motivated to go after it. By participating in genuine and practical practices such as politics, sciences, friendships and knowledge, one is gaining wisdom, good experiences and doing all through reason. This is what essentially what everyone is trying to do. Everyone is trying to do good and aiming for a good well lived life, which comes in many different forms such as aiming to be a great student, the best mother and many others. Looking at this belief at a much larger scale, by participating in all these activities, one does not realize it can apply to not only oneself, but to those around too. By doing the most fulfilling activities that will bring happiness to all. An example to help visualize this ideas is the job of a teacher and student. The teacher’s goal is to be able to create lectures, activities and lesson plans to share with their students. In doing this, it motivates the teacher to do his or her best to make sure the students will comprehend and take this knowledge with them in future references. It works along with the student’s job. For a student, they want to do well in class and want to be able to learn for their own reasons, whatever it may be. Looking deep into it, it is realized that both the teacher’s and student’s happiness have been attained. It all came naturally, not forced like Mill’s philosophy. In conclusion, the best method of ethics for happiness to follow has to be Aristotle’s work. Although Mill has provided many good reasons and examples on what happiness is and how to achieve, it cannot compete with Aristotle’s work. Happiness has to come naturally and simple, so everyone can be able to attain it. It has to set on realistic and reasonable standards for everyone to follow. Mill’s idea about the expectation to receive happiness is to be involved in not only one’s happiness, but everyone’s as well  and not caring of the intention, but result is a goal that cannot always be reached. On the other hand, Aristotle’s philosophy is a practice that anyone can do. Basically if one is aiming to live a good and sufficient life while doing all of these through rational actions, then one is on their way to achieving happiness.


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