Aristotle and happiness: Who studies, achieves
Like Mauro Bonazzi
At first sight it is the most absurd theory, Aristotle himself is the first to admit it. Ask, the answer will always be the same. Happiness? Someone will probably notice that it is achieved in public commitment, in a life dedicated to the common good. Really believing?
Others, the vast majority, have no hesitation: happy is the one who can enjoy life - spectacular villas, exclusivity, lunches and dinners in the most luxurious restaurants, lots of fun and little fatigue, always in style. So, the happy life. We Italians have even found the perfect definition: dolce vita. Can you want more than that? Absolutely yes, replies Aristotle: the only truly happy life is a life of study. Hard to support anything more absurd. But he is right.
In the meantime, we must understand: we are not talking about moments of intense joy - in such moments, almost without realizing it, we moderns reduce happiness - but about a happy life. They are two very different things. If happiness could be reduced to moments of well-being, in fact, the problem would not be so complicated: a moment of enthusiasm is not denied to anyone. But are these moments enough to make a happy life? No. A happy, fulfilled life is a life in which I realized my talent, developed my potential, became who I wanted and felt to become. To achieve this I must first understand who I am. It seems difficult, but it is not.
Everything possesses something that distinguishes it from all others, and therein lies its essence, what it really is. It is in the nature of the knife to cut: a piece of wood and a piece of metal put together alone are not enough to make a knife. By cutting, the knife realizes its nature as a knife. Are we? What distinguishes us, compared to any other creature, is the possession of reason. Man, the rational animal. So when we use our brains we realize our nature of being rational, our potential of being human. There is our happiness. It does not mean that we give up pleasures, on the contrary. But a life dedicated to pleasure alone is not enough.
Happiness, the most original and long-lasting, is accompanied by a certain self-awareness, the awareness that you are living according to a project. For this reason, the lives of those who are engaged are ultimately more satisfying: because they are building something human. And deeper still, it is the desire to know, to understand. Einstein's joy when he discovered the mysteries of relativity - does anyone want to compare it to a good lunch?
We must never forget: in this very large Universe, until we find proof to the contrary, we are the only ones who can reflect and think, who are not limited to simply living, but who can understand what we are we do what is happening. This desire to understand, to give meaning to our existence is something unique, it is only ours. Why are we here, where do we come from and where are we going? How can we live a righteous life? These are not simple questions. But isn't it precisely in these moments that we are ourselves? Born not to live in ugliness / but to pursue virtue and knowledge. For this reason, Ulysses had set out on a journey...
Originally published on bota.al