Write your text here!

1 Lawson Dunford Professor. DeMarco The Good Life 11/29/19

What Constitutes The Good Life? It is in the best interest of all people to pursue ‘the good life’, but what exactly does this life consist of? Philosophers have been debating this topic for hundreds of years, and a plethora of perspectives have appeared. While examining the works of author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in, Flow, and Aristotle in, Nicomachean Ethics, these differing views can be observed. In each work, what constitutes ‘the good life’ is questioned, prompting the audience to evaluate and analyze the different aspects integral to the good life. The good life is defined in each of the separate texts. The definitions are accompanied by principles one must incorporate into their own life to achieve the good life. In the case of Csikszentmihalyi, the good life is a life of continuous flow. Flow is defined as, “the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it,” (Csikszentmihalyi, 4). However, the term ‘enjoyable’ must be defined as well. In the words of Csikszentmihalyi, the most enjoyable time is when individuals are going through, “periods of struggling to overcome challenges,” (Csikszentmihalyi, 6). This life of flow that Csikszentmihalyi mentions consists of a well-ordered and integrated life, which can be achieved through a number of means. The methods of integration for each individual can be different for 2 each individual, but can consist of activities such as conversation, work, exercising and lifelong learning. However, in order to achieve flow in these activities one must create meaning in the activity. One can do this through, “bringing order to the contents of the mind by integrating one’s actions into a unified flow experience,” (Csikszentmihalyi, 216). Through organizing and controlling the contents of the mind and focusing on the task at hand, one can integrate this experience into almost any activity. However, it is important to note that each person is different in how they find flow. Additionally, one can experience flow in certain situations where others cannot. As stated by Csikszentmihalyi the task must be, “equal to his or her capabilities,” (Csikszentmihalyi, 52). Each individual has their own level of capability and, “for those who don’t have the right skills, the activity is not challenging; it is simply meaningless,” (Csikszentmihalyi, 50). In other words, an individual will not be able to achieve the flow experience if their capability level surpasses the complexity of the task. From the perspective of Aristotle, the good life can be achieved through having essential well-being and happiness as a whole. As stated by Aristotle, “the human good proves to be activity of the soul in accord with virtue,” (Aristotle, 11). When referencing the human good, Aristotle is claiming that the ‘soul’ or ‘psyche’ is the single principle of all functions, but in order to be ‘good’ one must be in accordance with virtue. Virtue can be described as “a mean … between two vices, one of excess and one of deficiency,” (Aristotle, 28). Aristotle describes the virtuous life as one where an individual does the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason, at the right place without hesitation. Although Aristotle was unclear on how one can exactly integrate and practice these concepts to achieve the well-ordered and ‘good’ life, he does mention the factors that play in achieving moral and intellectual excellence. These factors include having: strong friendships, 3 good bodily health, moderate wealth, and stable politics. This process can be observed through the function argument, in which moral and intellectual excellence are at the core, and the other means are on the outside. Once one can master moral and intellectual excellence, one can obtain essential well-being. Once this is done the individual may achieve happiness as a whole. In the works of, Flow, and, Nicomachean Ethics, the good life is described and is prescribed with methods of integration in which one can use to achieve the well-ordered life and ‘good’ life. The authors claim one can develop a special self by living the good life, in accordance with the terms set. In Flow, the self that is developed is the autotelic self. The autotelic self is defined as a, “one that easily translates potential threats into enjoyable challenges, and therefore maintains its inner harmony,” (Csikszentmihalyi, 209). In the text, Csikszentmihalyi provides ways in which an individual can achieve this. One can achieve this self through goal-setting, focusing on the activity, immersing oneself in the activity, and by learning to enjoy the immediate experience. If one can do these four things Csikszentmihalyi believes one can develop the autotelic self. In addition, Aristotle believes full-actualization in one’s self is the final stage in achieving the good life. Self-actualization refers to an individual reaching his or her full potential and finding fulfillment in every activity. The concept of self-actualization is also connected to that of virtue. Aristotle believes that self actualization lies in a life of virtue, as one cannot be self actualized without attaining the certain principles that come before. The two concepts are connected, and in order to achieve self-actualization, one must be virtuous. Aristotle believes full-actualization of one’s self is the final stage in attaining the good life. Aristotle believes that self-actualization is the final step in achieving the good life, which is followed by having essential-well being and happiness as a whole. Self-actualization is the ultimate virtue. Each of 4 the authors describe a special self that develops when living the good life, and lay the foundation for how one is to achieve this self. Each of the philosophers attempt to justify their claims through different means. In Flow, Csikszentmihalyi justifies his claims through the use of rational arguments with little reference to studies. Flow primarily highlights Csikszentmihalyi’s opinion on the the good life and how to achieve it, in which he attempts to persuade the reader to adopt. The central argument that Csikszentmihalyi takes is that without flow, one will not be satisfied with one’s life, as the flow experience is what every individual strives for consciously and sub-consciously. He tries to reason with people that without flow, life will be unsatisfactory. He justifies this by focusing on specific individuals and groups where the flow state can easily be observed, and then relates the concept to the greater population. Similarly, Aristotle also uses logical reasoning to form his arguments and persuade the audience. Aristotle takes the stance that in order to have the good life, ultimately one must be a ‘good’ person or one with moral and intellectual excellence. The central argument Aristotle takes is that the good life can be fulfilled through achieving essential well-being and having happiness as a whole, which is compromised of moral and intellectual excellence. Through reasoning and logic, each of the authors attempt to persuade the audience to adopt their version of the good life. The authors omit items of importance in which each one regards as crucial in achieving the good life. Regarding Csikszentmihalyi the concept of ethics are disregarded. In Csikszentmihalyi’s view of the good life it is not necessary for an individual to be ethically sound. Csikszentmihalyi claims that anyone can experience flow as long as the criteria is met. 5 Csikszentmihalyi uses the example of Adolf Eichmann to justify this. Eichmannm was highly responsible for organizing the holocaust, sending tens of thousands to the gas chambers in a bureaucratic manner. Csikszentmihalyi states, “he probably experienced flow as he shuffled the intricate schedules of trains, making certain that the scarce rolling stock was available where needed, and that the bodies were transported at the least expense,” (Csikszentmihalyi, 231). Contrarily, Aristotle believes good ethics is at the core of experiencing the good life. As stated by Aristotle, “the human good proves to be an activity of the soul in accord with virtue,” which directly contradicts the claims made by Csikszentmihalyi (Aristotle, 11). On the other hand, Aristotle makes no claim regarding ‘the good life’ and the environment. Many critics make the argument claiming humanity must be conscious about the environment while fully immersing oneself in order to have the good life, as seen in The Deep Ecology Movement. Csikszentmihalyi makes numerous claims pertaining to mastering one’s inner and outer environment, and states that those who live quality lives, “have strong ties and commitments to other people and to the environment in which they live,” (Csikszentmihalyi, 10). Although the environment was not a pertinent issue in Aristotle’s time, this concept is disregarded in Nicomachean Ethics and infused in Flow. In each of the different texts, authors disregard concepts central to the opposing argument on what constitutes the good life, adversely affecting the arguments of each individual. If each of the different authors’ visions of ‘the good life’ were to be actualized, the world would be a better place. However, Aristotle’s view of the good life would make for a better world. That is, if it were to be followed and actualized by everyone. The good life for all would be achieved through the use of the function argument, everyone becoming virtuous, and everyone having essential well-being. This would create a more caring and selfless world. This 6 ideal trumps that of Csikszentmihalyi’s view of the good life since Csikszentmihalyi outlines a more individualistic path on how one can achieve the good life. If Aritotle’s view were to be followed and actualized by everyone, it would likely resemble a utopian world. However, it would be impossible for everyone to achieve this in all actuality. This does not mean individuals should not pursue Aristotle’s view of the good life. Everyone should strive to live in virtue. However, it is unrealistic to expect this of everyone. Certain people are vicious by nature, and in certain cultures today it is difficult to leave the continence and incontinence realm. Overall, Aristotle’s view of the good life would make for a better world, but in all actuality, it is nearly impossible to achieve this for everyone. In both Nicomachean Ethics and Flow the good life is evaluated. Each of the different authors offer a unique perspective on what constitutes ‘the good life’ which at some points adversely affect the opposing author’s viewpoint. The question of what constitutes the good life is questioned in each work, prompting the audience to evaluate and analyze what aspects are integral and can be reasonably achieved in modern day society. 7

Points are good, though writing is spotty.Keep working on your writing, striving for clarity and making sure every sentence has a useful function!“A minus”