Virtue and Happiness

Virtue and Happiness
 The pleasures of the appetitive and the spirited parts of the soul are only
temporary and spurious.
 The only genuine pleasures are those of the philosophic life (i.e., the life of the
 Virtue is necessary for happiness.
 Virtue is sufficient for happiness. (according to one interpretation)
 Happiness (eudaemonia) is activity of the soul in accordance with the most
perfect virtue. Therefore, virtue is necessary for happiness (eudaemonia).
 The greatest happiness comes from use of the intellect; the highest use of the
intellect occurs in philosophical contemplation.
 Virtue is not sufficient for happiness: happiness also requires a reasonably long
life and certain basic material necessities.
Saint Augustine
Main Theses
 Human beings are composed of soul and body.
 Virtue is the perfection of the soul.
 The highest good must be permanent—i.e., incapable of being lost.
 Therefore, only faith in God and the hope for salvation offers any real prospect of
achieving the highest good.
 Following God means loving God and loving our fellow human beings as well.
 Therefore, the three cardinal virtues are faith, hope, and love.
 Other virtues, like fortitude, prudence, temperance, and justice are forms of love.
 True happiness requires being devoted to God and completely submitting to
God’s will.
 Pride, which Aristotle regarded as an important virtue, is, for Augustine, is the
cardinal sin, since it is a characteristic of those who believe that they can live well
by relying on their own resources rather than following God.
Friedrich Nietzsche
Main Theses
 There are no absolute moral standards; morality exists only in relation to
 Individuals who are superior intellectually, physically, and artistically produce
what is truly valuable among human beings.
 The perfection of the self comes through self-mastery and the free exercise of
one’s creative powers.
 Throughout nature, life is the expression of a will to power—i.e., a will to prevail
and dominate over others and to govern oneself.
 Traditional Judeo-Christian morality—which Nietzsche calls “slave morality”—
preaches love, compassion, sympathy, obedience, altruism, self-sacrifice, and
humility, and is a means by which the weak (intellectually, physically, etc.) gain
an advantage over the strong.
 The qualities of superior people comprise the virtues of “master morality” and
include pride, self-assertion, power, cruelty, honor, rank, and nobility.
 In order for humanity to avoid mediocrity and degradation and to achieve its
greatest potential, there needs to be a “transvaluation of values” in which
individuals of superior ability and creativity throw off the shackles of “slave
morality” and adopt the ideals of “master morality.”
 Self-realization, the development and activation of one’s intellectual, physical,
and creative abilities, is the highest good for human beings—not happiness.