From the beginning of time, the quest of all humans has been to discover how to live the good life. What is a good life exactly? This term will mean different things to different people, and yet I believe there are the same ingredients that all “good lives” share, even from the classic Eurasian time until present day. Virtues of character, which are also called ‘moral virtues’, seem to be more complex and are an integral part of the completeness of life that is said is necessary for a good life. There seems to be a pattern with people of always trying to achieve being a good person.
Is being a good person the answer to having a good life? The Author, Robert W. Strayer makes the point that Confucius, Krishna and Socrates had opinions of ways to a good life but they are all different from one to the other. I will argue that there is a pattern between the three and that the belief to the good life is the same throughout the writings. The saying that history repeats itself is certainly true, but it is also true that people all want to live good lives. Confucius believes living a good life is being virtuous and treating others with respect creates the kind of person that then is given the good life.
Being a leader he believed that ruling under an iron fist didn’t create people that respected him and that listened to the law, instead using kindness and sincerity gave the people an example of how to live. He says, “Let him be ? nal and kind to all; then they will be faithful to him. Let him advance the good and teach the incompetent; then they will eagerly seek to be virtuous” (pg. 218). He also goes on to describe forgiveness which is an essential component in all of the opinions on what is a good life.
If one is not being virtuous they can change, which tells us that people are never intended to be perfect but to continue to strive for goodness is always better than to never attempt to be good. That same ideal is true to our modern world. “To subdue one’s self and return to propriety is perfect virtue. If a man can for one day subdue and return to propriety, all under heaven will ascribe perfect virtue to him” (pg. 219). According to Confucius seeking to be virtuous will bring the good life. In Strayers words he associates the ideas of Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita as being different than those of Confucius.
I believe that essentially they are one in the same. Krishna says, “a man possessed of a pure understanding, controlling his self by courage discarding sound and other objects of sense, casting off affection and aversion, who frequents clean places, who eats little, who’s speech, body, and mind are restrained who is always intent with meditation and mental abstraction and has recourse to unconcern who abandoning egoism, stubbornness, arrogance, desire, anger and all belongings, has no thought that this or that is mine, and who is tranquil becomes fit for assimilation with the Brahmah” (pg. 21).
Krishna is telling us that controlling one’s self and the environment one keeps one’s self in, the abandonment of being stubborn and arrogant all contributes to a virtuous soul, which in turn leads to the good life. This point is exactly what Confucius and Krishna share the same opinion finding that mean or middle ground, that balance or yin and yang, is essential to establishing a completeness which develops virtue is vital in order to lead a successful, fulfilling life ultimately leading to happiness.
Socrates also collaborates these same thoughts He states, “For I do nothing but go about persuading you all, old and young alike, not to take thought for your persons and your properties, but ? rst and chie? y to care about the greatest improvement of the soul” (pg. 223). He spent his life trying to convince people to strive to be better people. This is one of the most important things to do in order to find happiness. Socrates believed that the state of one’s soul is the answer to happiness and that there is always improvement that can be made to one’s soul.
His mission was to encourage people to think for themselves and thus become more virtuous. Socrates was sentenced to death and as he is near his final moments He says, “The dif? culty, my friends, is not in avoiding death, but in avoiding unrighteousness” (pg. 223). He also shared the same ideas of Confucius and Krishna that living righteously is the key to the good life. In conclusion what creates a good life for an individual person? It appears to be the same answer that Confucius, Krishna and Socrates had during each of their lives.
They learned the same thing that people look for and believe in today. We continue to search for the same answers, but I think the answers are very clear in what history tells us and we learn from these brilliant men, Confucius, Krishna, and Socrates. To be virtuous is having a life with moral integrity and having or showing moral goodness or righteousness. It means being honorable to others and yourself in which will gain the honor and respect from others. Virtue is a belief used to make moral decisions.
It does not rely on religion, society or culture; it only depends on the individuals themselves. Virtue has more to do with the character of a person than their earthly riches and possessions. As people continual strive to become a better people, practicing virtuous acts regularly helps develop the good life and they are examples to others striving for the same thing. I believe in what Confucius, Krishna and Socrates taught us, that being a good person is the foundation on which everything else in life is built on, and this I believe is the answer to having the good life.