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Living an excellent life - Essay Example

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[Name of Student] [Name of Instructor] [Course] [Date] Defining a ‘Good Life’ The idea of a good life has been an important concern of philosophy over the centuries. Many thinkers have tried to define what entails living a good or happy life. Among these, one of the first ideas was that of eudaimonia among the ancient Greeks…
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Download file to see previous pages For instance, a good flutist is ‘good’ as far as his flute playing is good (Parry). Aristotle’s definition also held that goodness was an end in itself. Eudaimonia was reached when there was ‘nothing missing’ from a life. Therefore, a good life was also a ‘complete’ life. He also specifically identifies human goodness with psychological goodness rather than a material or physical goodness. His happiness is of the mind, rather than of the body (Parry). These are just a few facets of the more complex notion of eudaimonia or happiness that Aristotle defines in his treatises. This idea however has evolved over the years and ‘goodness’ or a ‘good life’ today does not necessarily have to do with serving one’s ‘function’ or leading a purely virtuous life. There has even been the question of whether goodness or happiness is really of the mind alone. Bill Clegg and Matthew Dickman are two contemporary writers who present rather different opinions on what makes an excellent life. Bill Clegg’s memoir Ninety Days traces his progress through ninety days of rehabilitation from drug addiction while Dickman’s poems touch upon many contemporary issues found in relationships like gender roles, abuse, and pain, among others. These two writers present rather different views on what makes a ‘good life’ and this paper will explore how they compare to each other as well as to Aristotle’s concept of eudaimonia. Bill Clegg, in his autobiographical work, Ninety Days, formulates a set of principles that, to him, make a life worth living. He traces his descent into drug addiction and back again into sobriety in the memoir. One of the key requirements, according to Clegg’s worldview, to moving towards a good life, is honesty; honesty with one’s friends and family, but most importantly, honesty with oneself. This honesty needs to be coupled with a strict regime to recover from any negative or debilitating experience like turning into an addict. Clegg’s own commitment to rehabilitation, as recorded in Ninety Days, is not free from trouble. He has a relapse, for instance, when just three days away from his goal and yet he starts again. Clegg, therefore, leaves room for mistakes and believes in a greater redemptive power that can overcome weakness. Another one of Clegg’s requirements for a good life is the need to establish contact with others. For instance, at one point, when he has only sixteen more days to go, he has to move out from Noah’s apartment when he is not there. However, he needs to have a friend, Sai, with him while he moves out only to have a ‘glamorous force field’ around him to make him feel better and stronger when he reenters the building he left on a stretcher for the first time. This need for companionship and the value that Clegg attaches to forming human relationships is missing from Aristotle’s idea. Clegg’s friend in rehab, Polly, is another example of how Clegg considers establishing human contact with others as an instrumental part of getting sober and back to living a good life again. Polly is in many ways a foil to Clegg, she is both similar to him in circumstances and yet very different. In the extract where Clegg describes his first meeting with Polly, he declares how his first thought at seeing her was ‘I hope she doesn’t want to talk after the meeting’ but he winds up chasing after her for her number. Their growing attachment is also ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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