Critical Analysis of Philosophical Ideas of ‘a Good’ life


There are so many goals and expectations that we want to achieve at one point in life. In most cases, these expectations can be considered to be ‘the good’ in life because they are actually what keep us going even when it is too difficult. Moreover, different people have got different things that they consider good in life. The reason as to why everyone has got a different good in life is because we all have something that is driving us to act in a given manner. Personally, ‘the good’ in my life today is my career. It is what keeps me going and I know I will be successful once I get to the highest level of my career. Therefore, ‘the good’ in life is a goal and it achieved when we get to the point that we want in this life today.
Moreover, the main reason as to why I consider my career to be my good in life is because there are so many benefits that I will get once I reach high levels of my career. In these times, one is required to have something that you can use to secure a job that will help you meet your daily needs. Although securing a job or being successful in this life can be achieved through possessing money or through family having a well-developed career is far much important as I will be successful through my own struggle. In addition, a good career will help me to acquire a high level of social status which is the wish of almost everyone living in this world today. However, having a career as ‘a good’ in life is not good as such because the world has been corrupted so much and you may have a career and reach its high levels and not get the mentioned benefits.
Socrates idea of the good
According to Socrates, the good in life is living your own life and at the same time minding about the other things or people that are surrounding you in one way or another. Socrates idea of the good implies that the surrounding is very important and it contributes greatly to the nature of life that we are living. There is more to look at than our mere self. My definition of a good life differs greatly from Socrates idea (Dow, 2016). Personally, a good life entails having a good career and developing it to the highest levels while according to Socrates a good life incorporates the other people that surround us. From Socrates, we get to learn that knowing about the other things existing around us highly matters in making our life to be good as we wish it to be.
Additionally, Socrates states that a good life is one that is full of questioning and self-examination. Through self-examination and interrogation is it very easy for one to know themselves and what is surrounding them into details. If self-examination is carried out in the right manners the flaws and the various acts of ignorance practised by humans will be discovered (Puett, 2016). The discovery of these acts will lead to a good life because they will not have the same negative impact that they had before they were discovered. In this case, the enquiry on oneself and the surrounding will make individuals to live a high standard life that has got no flaws or faults. Therefore, this high standard life that has got no flaws and that if full of enquiries oneself and one the surrounding is the perfect definition of a good life according to Socrates.
Epicurus’ idea of the good
Epicurus states that a good life is one which is filled with pleasure but the pleasure needs to be virtuous and it needs to be in line with nature. Since a good life is linked greatly to a happy life, Epicurus argues that the pleasures that we indulge ourselves in need to make us happy at all times. Moreover, the pleasures that we are supposed to enjoy in order to have a good life need to have a positive impact (Neuringer, 2017). For instance, if we get pleasure from eating a given food the food needs to benefit us health-wise. A good life is characterized by pleasures that are necessary and it is us humans who can make ourselves to either live the good life or a bad life. In order to live ‘a good’ life human beings need to do away with all the pleasures that are not necessary such pleasures are those which affect us negatively in the near future.
Epicurus’s idea on the good life is closely related to my idea of a good life. We both view a good life to entail enjoying pleasures of this world that are virtuous and necessary. The pleasure is a result of doing certain acts which we do on a daily basis (Voorhoeve, 2018). In my case, practising my career will bring about some aspect of pleasure because I will be doing what I love most without subjecting myself to any pain and at the end of it all there are so many benefits which I will receive while I continue practising my career. In this case, a life that is full of pleasure and happiness that results from engaging in virtuous acts is considered to be ‘a good’ life.
Montaigne’s idea of the good
Montaigne who was among the best writer of his time also had his own version of a good life that was different from the versions of the philosophers of that time. Montaigne argued that a good life is one which is correct and honorable. It may not be easy to know which kind of life is correct but one can know this through enquiring on what people ought to do and what they actually do. By so doing it will be so easy to live a good life. There are so many people who do wrong things and others just copy what they do and they end up doing the wrong things too (Popova, 2019). This kind of life is not considered to be a good life because at the end of it all most of the deeds that will be done by most people will be wrong deeds.
On the same note, Montaigne argues that a good life should not be characterized by fear. Just like Epicurus, Montaigne talks about the fear that most of the humans have about death and he states that if humans continue living in fear of things that are inevitable, it will be so difficult for them to live good and honorable lives. In addition, a good life is considered to one which individuals can be able to follow it and flow as it goes on. By so doing, humans will not be caught off-guard as some rare occurrences take place. From his confession, it is evident that a good life is one which is characterized by mindful attention and equilibrium. The mindful attention will make one to be aware of everything that is taking place and the equilibrium will help on not to overreact to life occurrences (de Montaigne, 2018).
Tolstoy’s idea of the good
Tolstoy in his confession also gave his idea on a good life. Tolstoy had suffered a great deal and when he has suffered to the extreme he discovered that the only way to live a good life is through knowing the meaning of life. For a very long time, Tolstoy was not aware of the meaning of life and this contributed greatly to the many sufferings that he had in his life. In his confession, he states that he understands that he wishes to understand life he must not live like a parasite but instead he should live his own life and take all what lives throws to him (Popova, 2019). It is at this point that Tolstoy brings in the aspect of faith and life. It is only through faith that one can be able to understand the meaning of life and eventually live a good life.
In addition, Tolstoy compares his life with that of those he considered to be living a good life. Because they understood the meaning of life they were able to persevere the sufferings and eve when they died they still recognized life to be good and not vanity as Tolstoy viewed it to be. Tolstoy view of a good life is not related to my version of a good life because we differ in what we think makes life to be good (Klemke, 2007). While Tolstoy believes understanding life will make one live a good life, I believe that my life is good if I develop my career to the highest levels that can ever exist. It is through living life and verifying it that one can be able to actually conclude if a life is good or bad. Thus, a good life is one which can be understood.
Ideas of the good as in Affluenza
According to the ideas presented in the book Affluenza, a good life is considered to be a kind of life where individuals have got all the wealth and property that they ever have. Such property ranges from homes, vehicles, cash and other important assets. This kind of life is not easy to achieve because of the kind of troubles that one has to go through before acquiring all this property (De Graaf, 2002). In order to achieve this good life, most individuals are subjected to very harsh conditions such as overworking, debt and anxiety. To make it worse even those who already have got the wealth go on to continue working to get more and more.
The idea of a good life as discussed in Affluenza is linked to my idea of a good life because I want to develop my career so that I can be able to get a good job and acquire the maximum wealth that I can be able to. Reaching the highest level of my career can make me to yearn to work more hours so that I can get more wealth. This is because to me a good life is one which I have all the wealth that is in existence and that I can do all it takes for me to acquire the wealth.
Idea of a good life according to David Wallace
According to the essays by David Wallace on life, a good life is one which is characterized by three main positions which are ironism, hedonism and narrative theories. To begin with, the ironism position states that a good life can be acquired through minding ones business and not putting into mind what others do or say. The position of hedonism implies that a good life is one that has pleasure just as Epicurus and the narrative theories position states that a good life should not be built on unified principles instead everyone ought to come up with their principles and live them (Ballantyne, 2015).
It is evident that there are so many definitions of a good life and all of them apply in the way of living in the world today. There are those that consider a good life to be one of pleasure and there are those that consider a good life to be one which they actually understand its meaning. All these versions of a good life are correct and humans need to follow their respective versions. However, the versions of ‘a good’ life should be virtuous and ethical in nature. Besides, all individuals need to identify ‘the good’ in their life so that they can achieve all what they wish in this life today.

Ballantyne, N., & Tosi, J. (2015). David Foster Wallace on the Good Life. Freedom and the Self: Essays on the Philosophy of David Foster Wallace, 133-68.
De Graaf, J. (2002). Affluenza: The all‐consuming epidemic. Environmental Management and Health.
de Montaigne, M. (2018). Montaigne’s Essays: A Humanistic Approach to Fear. A Conceptual and Therapeutic Analysis of Fear, 91.
Dow, K. (2016). Making a good life: An ethnography of nature, ethics, and reproduction. Princeton University Press.
Klemke, E. D., & Cahn, S. M. (2007). The meaning of life: A reader.
Neuringer, A., & Englert, W. (2017). Epicurus and BF Skinner: In search of the good life. Journal of the experimental analysis of behavior, 107(1), 21-33.
Popova, M. (2019). Leo Tolstoy on Finding Meaning in a Meaningless World. Brain Pickings, 6-8.
Popova, M. (2019). How to Live: Lessons from Montaigne. Brain Stormings, 9-11.

Puett, M., & Gross-Loh, C. (2016). The path: What Chinese philosophers can teach us about the good life. Simon and Schuster.
Voorhoeve, A. (2018, September). VIII—Epicurus on Pleasure, a Complete Life, and Death: A Defence. In Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (Vol. 118, No. 3, pp. 225-253). Oxford University Press.

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