Augustinian and Aristotelian Happiness

Essay by bcy17College, Undergraduate June 2014

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Augustinian and Aristotelian Happiness

Augustine and Aristotle each spend a considerable amount of time discussing two themes: Friendship and the pursuit of happiness. Choosing one of these themes, write about the extent to which their views are harmonious, and where they differ most significantly. Does one hold a view of friendship or happiness that strikes you as more plausible than the other, or more applicable today? Which one, and why? Relatedly, you might also consider that for both Augustine and Aristotle, there is a connection between friendship and happiness. Does one give a more plausible account of that relation than the other? Why or why not?

In Confessions and Nicomachean Ethics, both Augustine and Aristotle discuss the pursuit of happiness to great lengths. However, because the contexts of the two works are so different-Augustine's Confessions being an autobiographical conversion story centered in biblical text and Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics being a code of ethics based on observation, rhetoric, and logic-they largely differ in their notions of the pursuit of happiness.

Thus, while they have a common outcome, happiness, they employ different approaches to achieve this aim. In this paper, I will explore the extent to which Augustine and Aristotle's views coincide and differ, and discuss which methodology is more plausible and applicable today. In addition, I will examine Augustine and Aristotle's conceptions of the connection between friendship and happiness.

Although Augustine and Aristotle may differ in their approaches to happiness, they would both agree that a life of happiness is one that all humans should desire and strive for.

For example, Augustine wonders, "Why then do we hesitate to abandon secular hopes and to dedicate ourselves wholly to God and the happy life?" (Augustine, VI.xi.19). This rhetorical question shows Augustine's confusion as to why one...