Discussions in the course thus far have centered on questions concerning the good life (What does it mean to live a good life? What are the necessary components of a good life? Is the good life different for everyone?). As we read last week, in the Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle argues that friendship is a necessary component of the excellent life. Aristotle writes, "[friendship] is most necessary for our life. For no one would choose to live without friends even if he had all other goods (NE 1155a). The "complete friend" (as opposed to the friend of pleasure or utility) is a reflection of our own self, one who lives with us and allows us to become more virtuous.
Many in the class shared Aristotle's view that friendship is necessary for their own good life. But is friendship enough? Given our writing responses on this question it would seem not. Components of the good life for the class include the following: education, love, family, helping others, having a positive attitude, being comfortable, religion and faith, having no fear, having self-respect, financial stability. Quite a diverse list! So, how do we decide what the good life is?
This week we have been reading Plato's Apology. Here we find even more components of the good life. During his trial Socrates argues that a good life requires self-examination (indeed, Socrates argues that the unexamined life is not even worth living) and virtue of the soul. He dismisses material possessions and wealth as having anything to do with living well.
Do Socrates' considerations help us in our discussion? Do you agree with Socrates' characterization of the good life? Perhaps most importantly, can we ever arrive at any solid conclusions on what, exactly, a good life actually is?