Time to stretch out the old noggin today, dear reader. We’ve got a philosophical inquiry on our hands proposed by our senior editor Alex Barrientos… one that I think we can all agree is probably the most important question we can ask.
As such, I’ll get straight into it.
“As for a topic I’d like to discuss in a future mailbag, I’ve definitely been obsessing over what the good life consists of. What is it to be happy? Is it to experience many pleasures? Is it to experience a certain kind of higher intellectual pleasure? Does it consist of abstaining from pleasures altogether or limiting them? Or is it simply about finding some meaning between the two and living virtuously?”
You can see its importance, no doubt. Such an inquiry needs to be asked by every individual for both themselves and their immediate community at one point in their life. Without this moment of reflection, one could argue it is impossible to ever be truly happy…
Of course the ancients had plenty ideas on the topic, many of which differed. Some schools of thought employed a more ascetic approach, which may conjure up thoughts of Diogenes and his dog-like lifestyle hanging around the streets and throwing birds at people. Others, such as Epicurus, felt a good life went hand in hand with pleasure and enjoyment… as long as it wasn’t too much. Others still felt the realm of the mental was the only path to happiness. Aristotle – I’m looking at you.
But who was right? Which way brings happiness? And… perhaps as importantly, how do you know when you get there?
As usual, you can comment below or write me directly at [email protected] with your thoughts on, “what is it to be happy?”