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  • 6/11/2013

Classic Theories of Happiness (Aristotle)


Aristotle believes that the government is obliged to provide grounds for the citizens’ ethical and spiritual growth in addition to providing their material needs, and the main and ultimate purpose of establishing Madina and city-state is to attain ethical good. Aristotle defines three kinds of happiness for man:

1. External good, which includes friendship, family, wealth and other necessary preconditions to live a comfortable life.

2. Physical good such as health and physical abilities

3. Goods and virtues of the soul

Ethical virtues are the most important among the three types of good, because the first two are only beneficial when ground for goods and virtues of the soul has been provided. [1]

He believes this objective can be achieved through education, changing habits, strengthening reasoning and rational capability. 5 Although there are difference between political theories of Plato and Aristotle, basically they both believe that the government is an educational institution and must undertake the youth’s education and guidance. 6 – They believe that although city is created to provide simple needs of life (mostly economic needs) but its existence is necessary to achieve a good life, a virtuous and happy life. 7 In their view the government is basically an educational institution. It must be mentioned that the Greek philosophers mainly focus on secular happiness and virtue and they have not offered clear views about the truth of otherworldly happiness, how to attain it or the government’s duty in this regard.

According to Islam, there are various levels of existence the highest of which is the infinite existences which is the origin of existence and that is the One God, the Wise, Governing, Encompassing all the levels of existence. Oh the other hand, the lowest level order is this terrestrial and perceptible world.

Ahmad Niazi, graduate of Qom Seminary and Phd student of Al Mustafa international university

Source: political science journal, No. 3

Translated by: Sadroddin Musawi


[1] Frederick Charles Copleston,  A History of Philosophy: Volume I, translated by Jalaleddin Mojtabavi, p. 263.

Other links:

The Concept of Theocracy

The Purpose of Government

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