Compare and contrast the ways in which the Stoics, Hedonists and Christians view happiness and emotions

While the stoics believe that human being can achieve real happiness by attuning their lives and characters to the all-powerful providential wisdom, it is a common belief that for man to experience happiness, they need to be free by living according to God’s will. Man can only be happy by living a virtuous state of the soul and not on the outside environment. This is also the same perception held by many Christian that happiness can only be realized by having an internal peace, the peace that surpasses all human understandings.

Both Christian and stoics believe in internal peace, but the source of peace differs. For example, according to Tiberius, (2006, pp. 493-505), the Christians believe the happiness comes through conformity with God’s will while the stoic believe that inner serenity, as well as sternness and self discipline contributes to one’s happiness. Christian tradition support the central and supreme importance of seeking to please God and advancing His glory but this does not mean that people should, forego their pleasure. The idealized forms of life satisfaction would mitigate concerns for some purposes, such as a theory of well-being. The different between happiness for the stoic and the Christians that while the Christian believe that virtue to as the adequate condition for happiness such that external good are not necessary, the Christian believe that virtue is a sufficient condition for happiness, but external good are necessary. Never the less, the hedonists believe that both virtue and external goods are necessary sufficient conditions for happiness and emotion and the Stoics hold that emotions arose from false judgments.

Veenhoven, (2005, pp. 330–343) argues that performing one’s duty conscientiously is part of stoic’s ethical doctrine that happened sis derived from virtue alone and not the external good like income, success or honor. On the other hand, hedonists believe that irrespective of what one does, pleasure and happiness should be the ultimate goal of any actions. Therefore, hedonists believe that they should only pursue those actions that increase pleasure and thus happiness while refraining from those actions that increase pain.

The main similarity between the three is that they all believe in experiencing peace and stable emotional state, which is different from pleasure. Emotional state is dependent on the ability of an individual to secure a sufficient supply of external goods in addition to having a virtuous life.

References

Veenhoven, R. (2005). “Is Life Getting Better? How Long and Happily Do People Live in Modern Society?” European Psychologist, 10(4): 330–343.

Tiberius, V. (2006). “Well-Being: Psychological Research for Philosophers,” Philosophy Compass, 1: 493-505.

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