Previously, we discussed what the concept of education was for Roman philosopher Seneca was; education for him was fundamentally having an honest life. This time around, let us discuss the concept of a “good life” according to Greek philosopher Socrates, whose thoughts were well known four centuries before Seneca’s.
First of all, one must distinguish between a “life that is good”, which is the search for perfection and truth, and the “good life”, which searches commodity, pleasure and riches.
Professor Polo would point out that Socrates opted for a life that is good, thus sacrificing the good life. He sacrificed well being up to the extreme of dying while defending truth without compromises. Socrates’ choice for a life that is good is biographical, in other words, it incarnated within his own existence. The attractiveness of his character is huge, precisely because he is an authentic man that abides by his existential compromise with truth until the very end.
From Socrates we learn about coherence: he taught about what he lived by, and preferred to die instead of relinquishing his convictions. A life that is good is based on virtue and law. For the Greeks, a happy life can only be achieved in the polis, where both individual and social virtues are developed. However, in the city, other than talking and coexisting, what is right is both searched for and realized.
For Aristotle, security must be placed in nomos, in the agreement among free humans that search for a life that is good; which does not consist in richness.
Humans have always had the temptation for idolatry: to become a god of material goods, to enjoy a life full of commodities. However, the accumulation of material goods does not seize the thirst for them, if not, it increases it. The more one has, the more one needs, and the more one wants to have. In today’s society, advertising bases itself upon lust (the disordered appetite for life’s sensible pleasures) in order to favor consumerism.
A life that is good and a culture that is genuine aim to cultivate: intelligence (to learn to think); will power (to learn to want what is good); and affectivity (to learn to love others and develop good sentiments towards others).
On the other hand, the good life and subculture consist of being guided by the instincts, wishes, appetites, and emotions that someone may have at a given instant. This is nothing but a predisposition to animal life (Translated by Gianna Sanchez Moretti).