The Idea of Happiness
What do people associate happiness with?
Is it doing whatever you want?
Achieving everything you have set out to do?
• Usually freedom and life achievements top most
Is it possible to have both?
Is it possible to have neither freedom nor life
achievements yet still be happy?
Is it possible to attain both freedom and life
achievements but be unhappy?
• If yes, then does happiness rely on doing whatever
you want, when you want to do it…
• If no, then is happiness not doing what you want,
regardless of whether or not you want it done…
Can happiness be measured? How or why not?
If complete freedom and life achievements are
impossible to attain;
• then what would be in-between the two ends of
wanting to be free and achieving all of life’s
When does the “need” for happiness become a part
of humanity...Does it need to be happy?
If so, can happiness be a universal essence out of a
“force of necessity”…
Socrates of Athens
“The unexamined life is not worth living”
Socrates looked at what constitutes human happiness and
determined that human beings purse one end after another via
However, Socrates asked the question:
Out of all the ends we purse, which one alone is
worthy of desire/need?...instead of a want/sake of
some other end…
What is the ultimate end?
When do you desire to be happy?
Socrates determined that in order to properly answer
this universal statement one must examine the
choices we are currently making…but why?
• In order to determine whether or not we have
made that end our own…
Human beings make choices for the sake of some
end, which in turn is pursued for the sake of some
other end after examination of previous choices…
“Why do you do what you do?”
“What’s your purpose?”
“What do you expect to achieve by making those choices?”
“What are you living for?”
“What is the chief end in life that is alone worthy of desire?”
The ultimate end looks at examining the choices made for the
ultimate end with regards to its own sake…in other words, the
ultimate choice…and by making this choice it will ultimately make
me happy out of a force of necessity…
•But what is the ultimate choice?
•How many choices are there?
Socrates was aware that happiness was universally pursued
by everyone as the ultimate end…desired not for the sake
of some other end, but for its own sake…
What Socrates identified is that humanity is divided into 3
groups with respect to how the ultimate end promises
• The first group is the majority
– Identity pleasures as the ultimate end (to any sensation)
• The second group is a sub-group of the majority
– Those willing to sacrifice certain pleasures for one or two specific
pleasures (fame, status, prestige…)
• The last group is the minority
– Identify knowledge or wisdom as the ultimate end (pursue no
sensational pleasure as their ultimate goal…sacrifice all pleasures)
and any pleasure…
Second to majority or
more so as a sub-part
of the majority
pleasures for other
considered himself in this
of all pleasures…attain
The one universal end that all people have in common is? Is there a
common essential quality? Does any one person come to mind?
If not then everyone is unhappy, or at least completely
unhappy, and it is not self-evident what constitutes happiness.
If this is true, then happiness contains no essence.
Yet we are intelligible enough to know that happiness exists.
What is happiness? In other words, what is the chief end in life
that is alone worthy of desire?
Socrates argues that the ultimate end is the “greatest good”…
The Greatest Good: (Ultimate Good: Ultimate End) attaining
knowledge for its own sake…
Instrumental goods Choice
However, Socrates states that not any kind of knowledge
constitutes the ultimate end that alone brings
It is a certain kind of knowledge that people in the third
group seek…practical knowledge = wisdom…
Therefore, to seek wisdom as the ultimate good is to
make the statement that happiness is goodness and
that knowledge and happiness are virtues which assist
in perfecting the soul…
This is Socrates final statement on Happiness…
Pleasure (majority group)
Most people regard pleasure as happiness.
• Money (in order to purchase things that give pleasure)
• Food and drink
• Feeling good (good weather, no work, bathe in the sun,
sipping Pina Coladas all day)
Pleasure is temporary (sensation). It does not endure.
Pleasure comes from the outside. It is not from “within”.
It is possible to have many pleasures in life (wealth that can buy
any pleasure), yet still be unhappy.
Are the wealthiest people, who have many pleasures in their
lives, the happiest people on earth?
Honors/Fame (sub-group of the majority)
Example: You discovered a foolproof cheating method so that
you would never get caught, and enables you to Ace every test
and exam. You made it to the honor roll. You win every
Academic Excellence Award. Would you be happy?
Would the awards be genuine? Did you earn them? Do you feel
But, you are still honored, still celebrated as the best student in the
school. Is it acceptable? When would it be acceptable?
If honor = happiness, one should be happy regardless if they
cheated their way to the top or not. Did you not sacrifice some
pleasures in order to attain some higher level of enjoyment?
What did you sacrifice?
Have your actually acquired any wisdom or practical knowledge?
Honors (Fame) cont’d…
It isn’t the “honor” itself that makes one happy, but the
honorability in all that is achieved…
The excellence that follows upon honor is not there, so one is not
happy to receive honors. No pleasure will arise from a feeling of
The essence of emptiness is nothing…which is why nothing is
felt when the award is received…
“Did I give up too many sacrifices…What if I give up
Perhaps happiness has something to do with excellence?
Is everyone who is honored and famous have “excellence”…
Socrates argues that happiness is not found in pleasure and honors,
for the reasons that are self-evident.
Rather, happiness is:
The perfection of the soul
This means: “Making the soul as good as possible”
Happiness is “goodness”, moral goodness.
But it is also “wisdom” as a form of goodness…
•For Socrates, it is not just any knowledge, but wisdom, which
is the knowledge of “how to perfect the soul”.
•Wisdom is the knowledge of the highest end, the chief end that
is alone worthy of desire…for its own sake.
•Wisdom is the Knowledge of Virtue.
•Is pleasure the Knowledge of Vice?
•Happiness is a virtue (moral excellence, goodness), which
Know Thyself (self knowledge).
This is the starting point of a life a virtue. That the true self is the
soul, not the body (pleasure seekers think the true self is the body,
The Examined Life (worth living)
The ability to examine our choices made and determine if they are
rooted in the judgment of the soul or merely in the desire of
pleasures, personal attainment.
Freedom (self-rule, ability to govern thyself)
This is true freedom according to Socrates. The ability to govern
one’s passions, to rule over them and direct oneself towards that
ultimate end or goodness.
Without wisdom one is simply a slave to one’s own pleasures…
Ruled by passions (the
Enslaved by lust for
recognition of something
Governed by truth (reason).
Such as one is truly free.