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  • 6/11/2013

Classic Theories of Happiness (Aristotle and Farabi)


In his “A History of Philosophy”‌, Copleston defines Aristotle’s theory about the purpose of government, saying that, “The State (and by State Aristotle is thinking of the Greek City-State), like every other community, exists for an end. In the case of the State this end is the supreme good of man, his moral and intellectual life.”‌[1] Therefore in Aristotle’s view, the best government is the one that assists citizens in achieving a good life.  In his opinion, this goal is achieved through upbringing, change of habits and consolidation of the argumentation power as well as power of reasoning.[2]

Although there are some differences between the political theories of Plato and Aristotle, according to both of them, the government is basically an institution that is meant for upbringing and should assume the responsibility of raising and conducting the youth.[3] Both the thinkers maintain that although city is established to fulfill the basic needs of life (mainly economic needs), its survival is meant for fulfilling a good life, that is, a life accompanied with virtue and happiness.[4] However, it should be borne in mind that the emphasis of Greek philosophers was on the mundane happiness and virtue, while they did not clearly discuss felicity in the hereafter and ways to achieve it.

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.


[1] Abdorahim Alam, History of Western Philosophy from beginning to end, pp 260, 401

[2] Frederick Charles Copleston,  A History of Philosophy: Volume I, p. 401

[3] Abdorahim Alam, History of Western Philosophy from beginning to end, p. 147

[4] Ibid, p. 151

Source: political science journal, No. 3

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

Translated by: Sadroddin Musawi

Other links:

The Concept of Theocracy

The Purpose of Government

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