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What is “happiness”?

  1. What is “happiness”? (remember, this is not the momentary concept)
  2. What actions have you done to achieve happiness? Give two or three examples.
  3. A “right” action must be ethical (although it need not conform to societal standards). What made your actions ethical or “right”? Justify your answer.
  4. What do your actions say about your values and concept as a person?
  5. Choose someone you think exemplifies the ideal ethical person. Explain who and why.
  6. Compare your actions (from #3 and #4) to the person in #5.
  7. Conclusion: Where to you go from here? How can you better achieve happiness, in its highest sense? (Confucius said that the “good man is the one who is always striving to be better.”

A recurrent theme that runs through the various readings is that of “happiness.” However, it is important to clarify that we are not talking about the enjoyment we get from eating an ice cream cone or the pleasure of a warm bed on a cold night. Instead, think of John Stuart Mill’s definition of “higher pleasures” or Plato’s statement that “the unexamined live is not worth living,” or Nietzsche’s “noble man,” or Confucius’ idea of “Ren.” What we are talking about are the ethical actions that identify us as human—in the best way possible



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