Introduction: In philosophy, the concept of the good life is one that has been discussed throughout history. In summary, the good life is an optimally lived life. Many philosophers have different views on how to live the good life, making the good life a matter of perspective. One can either view aspects of their life, such as work and uncontrollable events, positively or negatively. Thus, the good life is dependent on how an individual perceives the world. Since good is defined as: to be desired of or approved of, then the good life must be a life in which an individual perceives the world in a desirable manner. This is evident when analyzing philosophical views of the workforce, the beliefs of stoicism, and absurdism.
Paragraph 1: Many different philosophical teachings have different opinions on how the workplace should be structured and how citizens should view work. Epicureanism believes that work is a source of pain, not pleasure. Therefore, the more an individual wants something, the more they must work, implying that they are a slave to their desires. To the contrary, Karl Marx deduces that work is what makes humans unique. Through work, individuals can live, create, and flourish. However, Karl Marx beliefs that what makes work a positive aspect in human life is suppressed by capitalism. He claims that capitalism creates a working environment that does not allow us to express our true selves, develop our talents, and prevents humans from fulfilling their productive nature. Marx argues that labor is alienated under a capitalist society through products, process, and people. When working, individuals make things, but own nothing that is produced. They have no say in what they are doing and how they do it, furthermore they must compete with others resulting in conflict and divide. When considering all of Marx’s arguments on how capitalism is flawed, one might question the reasoning behind why it is implemented in most modern and thriving countries. Capitalism may have flaws, but it also has positive aspects. Through capitalism citizens are capable of making more money by working harder and taking advantage of whatever situation presents itself. Thus, by being more effective in the workplace they not only benefit society but are compensated for their work, allowing them to purchase what they desire. Philosophers such as Adam Smith and Ayn Rand, as well as economists such as Thomas Malthus and David Ricardo are strong supporters of capitalism, implying they disagree with Karl Marx and communist views on the workforce. When all of these perspectives and ideologies are taken into consideration, one thing becomes very evident; how an individual views the workplace is directly responsible for whether they find work desirable. In order to live the good life, the actions one performs throughout their life must be desirable and/or approved of. Therefore, certain individuals are only capable of living the good life under specific circumstances as a result of their perspective of the world. For example, Karl Marx would be incapable of living the good life while in a capitalist society, because under those circumstance he would feel as though his human nature is being suppressed. The likes of Adam Smith and Ayn Rand would feel unproductive in a communist work environment, because they would believe that they are not bettering society. Epicureanism followers are simply against the concept of work as a whole, and thus in order to live a good life they must avoid work as it is not desirable. However, in reality it is unrealistic to not work, or be in a society that has a work environment that mirrors one’s desires. As a result, in order to live the good life an individual must either find the perfect workplace, create their own work environment, or view work from a different perspective in which allows them to desire it. Rarely does an individual have the opportunity to control their work environment, so it is logical for human beings to make themselves perceive the world in a positive light. If this is done, they will be able to live the good life, as everything they do will be considered desirable or approved.
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Paragraph 2: Another way in which it is evident that the good life is dependent on perceiving the world in a desirable manner, is by analyzing stoicism. The main ideology in stoicism is that an individual must accept what happens in life in order to be happy. This is logically correct. If an individual accepts everything that happens to them in life, that means that they approve of everything, making everything good. If everything in life is good, then an individual is undoubtedly living the good life. However stoic philosopher Epictetus, along with most stoics not only believe that one should accept everything that happens, but they have no control over anything, because everything is pre planned. Whether these teaching are true hold no relevance when it comes to living the good life, as one perceive events as acceptable regardless of if they have any control over it. For example, if a loved one passes away their death can either be mourned or their life can be celebrated. Furthermore, under such circumstances an individual can either deny such events from having happened, or accept what has occured, and live with the results. If somebody mourns the death of a loved one, or is in denial, they will be under a dark mind state that prevents the good life from existing. However, if the death of a loved one is accepted, and it is recognized that the events leading to the death were unpreventable, one can celebrate their family members life, and approve of their passing more peacefully. As a result, the individual who accepted their loved ones death would be able to live the good life, because they approve of everything that occurs, regardless of whether they have negative stigmas. In fact, this example is even more valid when considering the buddhist teaching that old age, illness, and death are not bad, we simply want the opposite, causing us to perceive them as bad. Overall, stoicism presents a lense that proves everyone can live the good life if they choose to accept what happens to them, and view sed events positively.
Paragraph 3: One of the darkest sentences to sum up life was presented by Albert Camus in his absurdism teachings. He states that “to be alive is to suffer”. This crucial idea is a paradox when it comes to living the good life. In order to live the good life, an individual must accept what happens to them in order to make it more desirable. Thus, one must accept their suffering, and view it as an aspect of life that gives joy value through contrast. By undergoing this thought process, one cannot suffer, as the idea of suffering no longer has a negative connotation, and by definition, to suffer implies to experience or be subjected to something bad. This is why absurdism concludes that life is in fact absurd. Life follows no rational path, but that does not imply that it cannot be good. “Yes, we will die, but we shouldn’t allow that fact to inform or constrain all of our actions or decisions. We must be willing to live in spite of death, create meaning in spite of objective meaninglessness, and find value in spite of the tragic, even comic, absurdity of what goes on around us”.
Conclusion: Overall, the good life is living a desirable life, which can only be achieved by developing a perspective of the world that is approved of by oneself. By choosing to see the world in a positive light, and individual can only increase in positivity, because humans beings reflect the environment in which they are in. Similarly to what the homeless man told Christopher Mccandless in Into The Wild, “The good gets better”.