Philosophizing – Ethics and Happiness

  • Right or Wrong
  • Good or Bad
  • Just or Unjust

I always want to be happy, and I think everyone does. Can we be happy when we can do whatever we want? Maybe, but we are not gods. Let’s back to reality. Humans are social animals and need to live with others, which restricts our freedom, but, at the same time, can guarantee the chance of happiness.

Let’s start with one episode of Plato’s Republic.

The Ring of Gyges is a mythical, magical artifact mentioned by Plato in Book 2 of his Republic. It grants its owner the power to become invisible at will.

What if you can do anything for your interest without worrying about detection? Can anyone resist the temptation? Socrates argues that a man enslaves himself by misusing unjust power. Only by resisting temptation, a man can remain rational and be happy. The conclusion might be debatable, but the message is clear.

You quickly notice the similarity between the Ring of Gyges and the One Ring of Sauron regardless of the author’s intention. Is it possible to get a good result out of evil desire? Does the result only matter and justify any motive? And what is the good result anyway?

In modern culture, we are accustomed to thinking and judging situations through utilitarian and pragmatic criteria. It might be asserted that the result is good because it is right, which is a somewhat weak argument.

Kant’s practical reason can light the path to the dilemma between the result and the motive. Human beings are equipped with the ability to sense the surroundings, analyze them, and provide the symbolic whole through reason. In the process, most human beings might agree on what is good and bad. Even though it might be true that there is no absolute right or wrong, we need the boundary of our moral judgment.

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