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St. Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle’s Views on Happiness

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It is safe to say that happiness is probably one of the most goals people from all around the globe pursue to achieve. The concept of happiness, for each individual, is not the same. Even though happiness is a universal goal, each individual has their own view or understanding of happiness. Philosophers, in particular have their own perception on it. This paper will discuss the understanding of happiness according to Aristotle and Saint Thomas Aquinas.

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Aristotle claims that Man can “only achieve happiness by using all his abilities and capabilities.” (67). Aristotle divided happiness into three forms. The first form of happiness is a “life of pleasure and enjoyment,” the second is life as a “free and responsible citizen.” And the third is a life as a “philosopher and thinker” (67). Aristotle’s point of view on happiness is that every single form of happiness must be present at the same time for Man to find true happiness and fulfillment. Additionally, Aristotle advocated that in order for Man to achieve eternal happiness and harmony, Man has to “exercise balance and temperance”. Sophie’s World provides examples on such exercise: For instance, Man must be neither cowardly nor rash, but courageous. Same thing with eating. It’s dangerous to eat too little as it is to shovel a lot.

Michael W. Austin claims that Aristotle believes that happiness is not something that can be given or received. But it is something Man should attain by himself. According to Michael, Aristotle also believes that “the life of virtue is crucial for human happiness. When we are just, kind, courageous, generous and wise, we experience deep satisfaction and fulfillment that s available in no other way.

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Saint Thomas Aquinas’ perception and understanding of happiness is way different than Aristotle’s. St. Thomas Aquinas believes that “perfect happiness” is not possible to pursue and achieve in this lifetime. An organization named ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ claims that St. Aquinas strongly believed and was heavily affected by St. Paul’s “assurance” in 1 Corinthians 13:12. “for now we see as through a glass darkly but then we see face to face.” They also claim that St. Aquinas believes that “perfect” happiness can only be achieved in the afterlife for those who possess true knowledge about God. Furthermore, St. Aquinas suggests that true happiness can only be achieved and found in the knowledge and true acceptance of God. St. Aquinas stressed the difference between enjoyment and happiness. Enjoyment is short-lived and false, but happiness is eternal and pure.

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St. Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle’s Views on Happiness. (2019, April 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 28, 2023, from
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