When I look at what a happy life should consist of I think I would definitely lean toward Aristotle’s view of a happy life. Aristotle is all about progression through the ages. I see Thoreau’s view as taking a step back in time. Living simple is fine but to fulfill your life with idea’s and creation and intellect, now that is what life is all about.
Aristotle’s idea of fulfilling our nature as rational beings is exactly how I feel about living the best/ happiest life. I kind of think of it as manifest destiny. Just like how the U.S. had this belief of expanding its territory across the North American continent, believing that it was part of their destiny. I think our destiny as the human race is to challenge ourselves intellectually, to create new technologies, to be virtuous in that we are happy with what we do, the actions we make, and who we are. Not just to sit around and be content with what you have but go out and find, discover, and create more and more. When you look at what man has created in oh lets say throughout all of time; we discovered fire, and we used that fire to help make tools and eat food. With tools came huts, then houses, then cities. Machines were built and with our understanding of the world have evolved into better machines, just as computers have. All these external goods in the world have made people happy. I’m not saying that all these external goods are necessarily good for the world but they seem to keep most people happy. Another part of fulfilling our nature is to reach out to other people. By doing this we can help people and create friendships. Friendship I think is essential in what humans need to have the best/ happiest life possible. With friendship there are other people to talk to and discover with. If there was no friendship in the world life would not be as fulfilling. There would be no one to laugh with, no one to cry with, and no kindness in the world.
With Thoreau’s idea of living simply, there is no excitement and no adventure. Sure you might be happy with whom you are and what you do but there is nothing else. Wouldn’t you want more as a human being? It’s almost like there would be no discoveries in life. You might not challenge yourself to be a better person or to discover what you did not know. What would drive a person with that kind of life? What would be their passion? It leaves so many spaces unfilled and so many possibilities that could be reached but are not because life would be simple. How could living this simple kind of life make a person happy?
Even though we have been on this planet for more than 2000 years we do not know everything there is to know about it yet, for man is not satisfied with what we know so far about the world. Let’s say that one day we do discover all the secrets of the world. What will man do next? Man will move on to another planet and then the universe. Parts of that statement are already in motion but there is one thing that drives us human beings; knowledge.