Life in a seemingly morally bankrupt world

Filed under: philosophy, Aristotle

We live in a world where morally bankrupt individuals seemingly excel in nearly every aspect of their lives. And their continued success, be it within their political endeavorers, business, or their personal lives, seemingly offers them little to no motivation to act in any way that benefits anyone other than themselves or the people they consider friends.

However, this state of events isn’t anything new.

In Plato’s Republic, the idea of how a person should live is heavily discussed. And given the length of this dialogue, he also must have encountered a polis full of individuals just morally variable as our own, each with their own successes and failures.

So, how should we live?

Well, despite the fact that people who consistently act poorly seem to be better off, it’s always in our own best interests to act justly because we want to live a life where we can experience eudaemonia, which I’ll loosely define as a life filled with happiness and quiet contentment.

Morally bankrupt individuals simply can’t live a eudaemonic life because they always need to watch their back, constantly on the look-out for the people they’ve taken advantage of, screwed over, or wronged in their pursuit of success. They maintain a growing list of people ready to take revenge on them as soon as the opportunity arises, and they’ll likely lack friends of good character who’ll protect and help them when-if their time of need arises.

The reputation they’ve cultivated taints any honestly good acts they do perform. And, often, their good acts are seen as selfish performances, with dark, ulterior motives looming undiscovered.

In contrast …

People living a life of just virtue will live a eudaemonic life. The reputation of being a just person that they’ve cultivated supports and fosters strong friendships. They’re more likely to be surrounded and supported by other just people who have equally excellent characters.

Morally questionable people will always seek to take advantage of others. And people living justly will experience hard times just like everyone else. However, the people who are living their life justly know that they’re surrounded by other just people who’ll do their best to help them in their time of need, even if all they can offer is friendship, some company, and an ear to talk things through with.

The takeaway?

If you choose to live your life justly, you’ll be able to achieve eudaemonia. You’ll live happily, quietly content knowing that the people you’re surrounded with are of good character. You’ll live knowing that even your friends will be there to support you even in the hardest of times.