The Good Life
The Good Life
‘Ring of Gyges’
In context to Plato’s ‘Ring of Gyges’, it talks about the choices human beings make in their everyday lives that affect the lives and well-being of those around them. Glaucon points out “injustice is superior to justice” (as cited in Gauthier, 1986, p. 57). As human beings, we are known for our selfish nature as we only do things to benefit ourselves. If two men walked by and saw a hundred dollar bill on the ground, one or both of them would rush to pick it up before the other. This selfishness, which defines human behavior, goes against Aristotle’s theory of the good life. Politicians are constantly mud slinging just to gain popularity in the eyes of the public.
Human beings will only act for the greater good when disaster strikes or when there is a tragedy that calls for urgent assistance like road accidents, fire outbreaks, floods, just to name a few, human beings are not people who think about self worth and self dignity unless in situations that will be beneficial to their personal needs. My neighbor’s daughter just threw out her newborn baby just so she could get into the modeling industry. This action was done without considering the feelings of the baby or its future, the mother did not care whether the baby died or not, she only wanted to advance her modeling career, just as Gyges used the ring to establish himself and his generation on Lydia’s throne. Human beings would do anything just to get ahead in life, regardless of the people they hurt in the process.
‘Cave of Ignorance’
Just as the sun allows us to see and value all things, there are many realities in our lives; education is one of them. Ignorance is evident in those who lack some sort of education in their lives. Education acts as a guide concerning what we do, how we do it, where we do it and the consequences of doing it, in this case our actions. It is said that, for every action, there is a reaction. With education, we are able to choose right from wrong and good from bad. Education is also considered a universal good because it is a unifying factor for all human beings because it provides for shared knowledge and understanding of ethics and ethical values. A vision of a good life always argues for ethical relativism; just because one knows, does not always mean they are educated. Plato argues that many people mistake appearance for reality, they think they know when they really do not (Phillips, Soltis, 1985).
‘Myth of Er’
We are told, “Odysseus chose, on the second time around, to stop all the glory and all the war. He wanted peace and quiet” (Hewitt, 2012, p.27). In this myth, the souls were given a second chance to choose a new life, basing their choices on the knowledge they gathered in their previous lives. Odysseus was a noble man and his soul went ahead and chose a noble man. Most human beings take life for granted, and are always sure that things will happen, as they want them. We never really stop to think about the end of our lives. We do not care about what would happen to our souls after we are gone. Ordinary things that make up our lives are what we need to consider as the most important aspects of living. It could be our families, our friends, nature, and our jobs, just to name a few. Once we have learnt to appreciate and value the little things in life, then our souls shall be at peace. We will be able to appreciate life as it comes, with its good and bad days. Doing things for the greater good feeds the soul with satisfaction and rest. This is in line with Aristotle’s theory of the good life, with which I totally agree.
Victor Frankl’s ‘LogoTherapy’
‘LogoTherapy’ is simply defined as that which gives reason for being (Frankl, 1984, ch. 2). Frankl finds that human beings are inclined to seek meaning in all their circumstances. Meaning differs in human beings, as it is unique and individual. There are those who believe in a supra meaning and live their lives open to the call of such meaning to conscience, and are prepared to commit themselves to a meaningful response to destiny This therapy in relation to ‘Ring of Gyges’ depicts that human beings can find meaning in life through experiences. These experiences differ from time to time; they could be natural experiences, relationships or the environment. Gyges made a choice when he took the ring from the corpse and used it for his own personal gain. He was only interested in the meaning for the moment and not the ultimate meaning, as we are not told whether he believed in God or not.
Relating the ‘LogoTherapy’ to the “Cave of Ignorance”, we can see that knowledge was the meaning toward which the prisoners based their hopes. Today, we are getting the best education for a better future and that of future generations. Human beings live and thirst for knowledge, they are always curious about everything especially that which they do not understand. That is their meaning, and they are constantly seeking it in all their endeavors. When it comes to learning new things, the best way to find meaning is to change our attitudes.
The ‘LogoTherapy’ can also be related to the “Myth of Er”. Odysseus found meaning in helping others and doing well for the greater good of those around him. This unique character made his soul pure. Therefore, human beings need to learn to find meaning in helping others. This can be done through making the right choices and being responsible as this will make us happy and fulfill our souls with content.
My personal journey toward the good life has not been easy. I am constantly debating on making the right choices. I admit, I am not perfect, but I try my best to do what is right whenever I can. I believe in supra meaning, and this is what drives my everyday life. I try to do well in respect to the supra meaning, in my life. Whenever I get a chance to help others, I am quick to do so. Nevertheless, there are times when I had placed myself before others and benefited at the expense of others. If I said, I did this because I had no other choice, I would be lying because human beings always have a choice. On the other hand, life is about learning from our mistakes; I am trying to change my attitude about so many things in life.
I, just like many of you, would like my soul to go to a good place in the afterlife, that is my reason for being, so I watch my actions. In ‘The Republic’, Plato tries to talk about justice, whether the just man is happier than he who is unjust. Achieving justice has is still an uphill task to many today. A just man will put the sentiments of others before his own, he will advocate for the rights of other people. I feel that I am just when it comes to children and old people because they cannot defend themselves. Therefore, I advocate for their rights. This is not easy as I get opposition from very influential people in society but it does not deter me from my cause. It can be said that I agree with ethical relativism with respect to the requirements for a good life. I make ethical decisions based on their reasonability in accordance with my personal beliefs and values.
Frankl, V. E. (1984). Man’s search for meaning. New York: Washington Square Press.
Gauthier, D. P. (1986). Morals by agreement. Oxford Oxfordshire: Clarendon Press.
Hewitt, Hugh. (2012). In, but Not of: A Guide to Christian Ambition and the Desire to Influence the World. Brilliance Audio.
Mizzoni, J. (2010). Ethics: The basics. Chichester, West Sussex, U.K: Wiley-Blackwell.
Phillips, D. C., & Soltis, J. F. (1985). Perspectives on learning. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University.