Big ideas: The Good Life

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1. Aristotle on ‘Flourishing’
How to live a good life? Aristotle’s answer was live virtuously: do what a virtuous person would do.*

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* In Aristotle’s schema, there are four aspects of human nature:

  1. We are physical beings (because we are animals). As physical beings, we require nourishment, exercise, rest, and all the other things that it takes to keep our bodies functioning properly.
  2. We are emotional beings (because we are animals). What separates animals from plants, according to Aristotle, is that animals have wants, desires, urges, and reactions. We perceive something in the world that we want and we have the power of volition to get it; likewise, we have the power to avoid the things we do not want. For humans, these wants can get pretty complex, but at rock bottom we all have (emotional) needs and wants that spring from rather basic sources.
  3. We are social beings (because humans live in groups). We must live and function in particular societies. “No man is an island,” and we are the type of being that does well only in social settings. Our social nature stacks on top of our emotional nature, such that we have wants and needs that we would not have were we not social creatures. For example, if we were the type of creature that flourished as hermits, the need for trust and friendly cooperation would not be nearly so pressing.
  4. We are rational beings. This is because many think that what makes humans human is our rationality. We are creative, expressive, knowledge-seeking, and able to obey reason. We might not always obey reason and we may sometimes not want to exercise our minds, but a large part of our existence relates to our being rational animals.

 

Source: BBC (2015); Open University (2015). History of Ideas.  Duration: 01:59

 

2. Max Weber and the Protestant Ethic
How does religion fit with the world of business? Perhaps more closely than you think. The sociologist and economist Max Weber argued that after the Reformation one form of Christian Protestantism, Calvinism, encouraged a different attitude to work, with far-reaching effects.

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Source: BBC (2015); Open University (2015). History of Ideas.  Duration: 01:51

 

3. Buddhism’s Four Noble Truths
Does our inescapable suffering stem from our own greed and ignorance? Buddha thought so, but he offered a route out to enlightenment.

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Source: BBC (2015); Open University (2015). History of Ideas.  Duration: 01:41

 

4. Ayn Rand and Selfishness
We have a duty to be selfish and any other behaviour is irrational. These were the thoughts of Ayn Rand, Russian-American novelist of the 1950s. Rand’s approach, which she labelled ‘Objectivism’, starts from the claim that there is an objective reality out there and that human beings understand it through reason not emotion. There is no God. We survive by pursuing our own rational self-interest.

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Source: BBC (2015); Open University (2015). History of Ideas.  Duration: 02:05

 

CREDIT TO:
credit_to__bbc-radio-4_and_Open-University

 

BIG IDEAS
01. Beginnings
02. Who am I?
03. Being human
04. Knowledge
05. Beauty
06. Love
07. Freedom
08. Society
09. The good life
10. Right from wrong
11. Justice
12. Technology

 

CONCEPTS EXPLAINED
01. Astronomy
02. Microgravity
03. Thoughts on theory
04. Theology explained
05. History of the English language
06. History of Money
07. Economics explained
08. The European Union explained