What is meant by the good life

Good life

Quite a few people ask themselves the question “How can I lead a good life?” In their lives. Questions like these and how to approach them are the content of the latest topic dossier.

A philosophical question with topicality: more than ever, people are asking this question today. Dagmar Fenner, honorary professor at the University of Basel, whose thoughts are also represented in the form of an interview in the topic dossier, says that this is due to the decreasing regulations on how people have to live their lives. Nowadays, it seems that people are no longer so easily satisfied with the concepts of life prescribed by religions and cultures. You search and think further.

The question of the good life lends itself to be taken up by philosophy, because it is not an empirical or purely analytical question that can easily be answered with a measuring device or calculated with a formula. There are approaches such as the popular research into the importance of “happiness” for a good life shows, which is why a chapter in the thematic dossier is dedicated to it.

What precedes the question, however, are more fundamental questions, such as whether the question of the good life can be answered unequivocally and conclusively at all. Is the topic subjective in character and does it have to be explored individually by each person, beyond objectively correct or incorrect answers? If you disregard this possibility, it is also worthwhile to think about what is actually meant by the question. What does “good” mean in relation to a human life? Does it have to feel positive or make rational sense? What is actually meant by “life”? A period of time or a mode of existence? It is in the nature of philosophy to deal with such conceptual ambiguities and to provide explanations.

Philosophers and the good life: A variety of different theories about the good life have been developed by philosophers. The philosophical thematic dossier “Good Life” gives an overview of some of these different considerations, which range from the ancient Greeks to the Enlightenment to current university research in philosophy.

Plato and Immanuel Kant see the question in metaphysics, the theory of existence. Their views differ, however, in that Plato believed that there is a good life that can be experienced as a whole. Kant, on the other hand, believed that there was nothing in the world that could be pointed to and said to be a good life. With his virtue ethics, Aristotle gives an answer to the question of the good life, which can be measured in terms of a virtuous lifestyle. This shows the moral character of the question, which is also discussed in the discussion of the “welfare” theory, which deals with the connection with well-being and morality. Other approaches described in the topic dossier deal with the connection between the good life and the feeling of enjoyment, the usefulness of actions and the desires that a person has, as well as the goals that he sets.