Today we will explore an overview of the views of Socrates on Finding Happiness...
Socrates was born in Athens, Greece in 460 BC and has a unique place in the history of happiness and personal well-being as he is the first known figure in history to argue that happiness is actually obtainable through human effort. (See video or continue reading)
Like most ancient peoples, the Greeks had a rather pessimistic view of human existence. Happiness was deemed a rare occurrence and reserved only for those whom the gods favored. The idea that one could pursue happiness for oneself was considered hubris, a kind of overreaching pride and was to be met with harsh punishment by the gods. Many Greek myths warned of this horrible fate. (Continue reading article below.)
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Against this fatalistic backdrop, the optimistic Socrates enters the scene. The key to happiness, he argues, is to turn attention away from the body and towards the mind’s inner world. By self-inquiry and the harmonizing of our desires, we can learn to pacify the mind and achieve a state of inner tranquility. According to Socrates, leading a moral life is to be preferred to an immoral one, primarily because it leads to happiness.
We see right here, at the beginning of Western philosophy, that happiness is at the forefront, linked to other concepts such as virtue, justice, discernment. It is central in understanding the ultimate meaning of human existence, beyond religion.
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