This paper contains the different definitions of what it means to be a human being and living a good life. In this paper we will take a look at Hobbes and Augustine’s definition of the human being and the good life. Both of these philosophers give examples of what they think the good life is, and the desires of human nature. In this paper I will talk about Augustine and his thought of how in order to live a good life, one needs to seek God to find true happiness. I will also talk about what being a human being and living the good life means to Hobbes, and his thought of how human equality is the ticket to happiness and the good life. I think Augustine offers a more accurate description of the human being and the good life because I agree that true happiness can’t be found in earthly things. I believe there is much more to life than finding happiness and self-worth in success, money, fame, popularity, and etc.
Life chasing after materialistic items won’t bring you happiness because you will always feel like there is something more you want and desire, the materialistic items won’t satisfy you. Augustine’s definition of the human nature is one that is a God-seeker. Augustine agrees with Plato that the human nature has a mind to think and choose. He also believes that human beings have the free will to choose between good and evil. He believes that the human beings search for ultimate fulfillment and happiness. He believes that the good life is a life following God. Augustine believes that the only way to find eternal happiness and live a fulfilled life is following God because human beings are born as natural sinners; only when we find God, the emptiness in our heart is filled with eternal love and happiness. His definition of the good life is not one free of suffering, troubles, or sorrow, but one with faith in God. He believes that the grace of God is what will make us happy and a relationship with God is true happiness.
He believes that when we seek materialistic existence it ultimately leads to despair. He believes that a person that chases materialistic items is one who is selfish, because that person is always thinking about what the world/ another person can do for me; A godly person is one who appreciates the world for who it is and another person for who he/she is. A godly person finds the life fulfilled. He believes that because human beings are all sinners, chasing after materialistic items will only lead to more sin and addiction, it won’t give us the ultimate satisfaction and fulfillment. Augustine shares his personal experience with us about how he chased after materialistic items and stole for fun, but it was never enough to fulfill him. He talks about his lust and search for love, but he didn’t find true love, fulfillment, or happiness until he found God.
Human beings are the same, they chase after fame, money, popularity, success, and material items, but they will always feel the void, emptiness, and unfulfilled. Materialistic happiness is only temporary. Ultimate fulfillment and happiness requires spiritual existence and not tangible existence. Hobbes believes that the definition of human nature is a person who desires happiness. Hobbes believes that happiness is relative to the individual. There is no universal happiness. Hobbes believes that human beings are self-centered, self- preservative, and desire power. Hobbes believed that the state of nature would lead to the state of war because there are no laws in the state of nature, human beings have absolute freedom and the absolute freedom will lead to a constant state of fear.
Hobbes believes that human beings are self-centered and self-preservative because they think about themselves before thinking about others. Hobbes believes that the basic components of human nature are competitiveness, diffidence, and glory. We do whatever we can to defend what we have, which makes us diffident. We all seek to have the repetition that others admire, which makes us seeking of glory. Hobbes believes that human equality is the good life. He believes that humans are equal in terms of body and mind. We are equal in body because we all have the ability and strength to kill each other. We are equal in mind because of prudent and practical intelligence (knowledge gained through experience).
We all share the ability to learn from experience. That is why for Hobbes, everyone deserves the same rights and all rights. He believes that the only way to reach happiness and the good life is equality because human beings are naturally competitive. If everyone and everything is equal, then the competition will not be there because everyone is getting all the same things and same rights and there is nothing to fight over, so there will be peace.
I think Augustine gives a better description of the human being because I agree that chasing after materialistic items can’t fill the empty void that is felt in the heart, only the love and mercy of God can fill that empty void. I believe that God created us and we won’t feel that everlasting love or happiness until we find God again, and I believe that only He can fill that empty void in our hearts. The materialistic items can bring temporary happiness and joy but that happiness and joy will eventually go away, and you feel that emptiness again. I agree that all human beings are born as sinners and we go after materialistic items like money, fame, popularity, success, love, and etc., and even when we do have all those materialistic items, we always want more.
Human beings are selfish and enough never seems to exist in our vocabulary. I can speak from my personal experience because I desire for money, success, love, fame, and popularity as well. Even though I have a part-time job and I’m making enough money for me to spend on food, daily necessities, clothes, entertainment, and enjoyment, it still doesn’t seem enough. I always want to make more money, because to me there is no such thing as too much money. I desire for success because being successful means you can make lots of money and get lots of fame and popularity. I like to feel loved, whether it is by friends, family, or a significant other. Like Augustine, I realized that all these materialistic items brings me temporary joy, happiness, and fulfillment but it doesn’t last because it still doesn’t feel like it’s enough to make me feel satisfied. It wasn’t until one of my friends starting bringing me to church, and I learned about God and the love and mercy He has shown us and given us; it was then that I realized that I need God in my life.
After finding God and accepting Him, I felt the emptiness in my heart that I tried to fill with materialistic items and temporary happiness, was finally filled with eternal happiness and fulfillment. I knew that the good life and living a life following God didn’t mean that I wouldn’t be facing trouble or that life was going to be easy, that I wasn’t going to face trials, temptations, or sufferings, but I knew that a life following God meant happiness and faith and trust that God will be there for me no matter what. Having that faith in Him made me fill fulfilled. I also began looking at things differently, instead of thinking about myself and the things I can get from money, fame, popularity, or success, I began thinking about how I can give to others and society with the success or money or fame I have or will have. I began to think of the things I can do for others or for society, instead of what others or the society can do for me. I became more selfless instead of being selfish.
Even though my life isn’t perfect and I still face sufferings and trails daily, I feel fulfilled because I have God in my life; and I wasn’t able to feel this way or find this happiness when chasing after the materialistic goods. That is why I believe Augustine’s definition is an accurate one. We can spend our entire life searching for happiness and we can have all the money in the world, or all the fame and popularity in the world, and we can feel loved by our significant others and family members and friends, but we will still feel unhappy, empty, lonely, or something is missing. God alone can fill that emptiness and loneliness, no one or nothing else can fill it. That is why I believe that even though following God may not be perfect and easy, that everlasting happiness and eternal love is worth it.
Hobbes is right that the human beings desire happiness and is selfish and competitive and want popularity. However, I disagree that there is no universal happiness. There is universal happiness for whoever finds God. I believe that because we were all born as sinners, accepting God as our savior and knowing that He loves us even after all the sin we commit, we’ve committed, and we will commit, will makes us feel loved and accepted by our Heavenly Father. That is the fulfillment we need. We can find everlasting love and eternal happiness in our Heavenly Father. That is why I believe that in order to have a good life, one has to seek God and live for and through Him.
Courtney from Study Moose
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