Satisfactory Life through Emotions and Choices
Plato is a Greek philosopher and mathematician whose beliefs on quality is different from the ideas of subjectivists and relativists. Plato believes that a quality is natural and objective. What people consider beautiful does not vary from what other people think because the object referred as beautiful genuinely possess the value of being beautiful, and not just an opinion. Therefore, the quality of an object can be calculated or measured. A person’s moral and belief systems serve as measures for identifying an object’s quality – these function as guidelines of a person in making choices or decisions in pursuit of doing what is good. However, Plato had the idea that for people, pleasure seems similar to good. This kind of perception makes people choose whatever satisfies them without probing for what makes that choice a good one. A repetitive decision-making errors, termed as akrasia, is due to lack of discipline or control, or because the morals of a person is not educated. In other words, a person’s virtue is contingent on that person’s control of his non-rational desire. Akrasia, then, is resolved through intellectual means or by reason. This piece talks about Plato’s views in ways to have a satisfactory life by the use of reason.
In Plato’s Republic, it said that in order to achieve satisfaction in a good way, a person must take the pleasures which reason approves. For example, a person can eat a proportional amount of chocolates, as well as lettuce, tomatoes, and all other healthy food. A person cannot, however, eat more than what is prescribed, say 10 chocolate bars a day. In doing so, that person can become obese or diabetic. He also cannot restrict himself to eat lettuce only his entire life. The body of that person will become deficient of the essential nutrients which lettuce alone does not have. In other words, the body has many needs and functions, and to supply the body with one need only causes health troubles so the decision of not eating too much chocolate or not restricting oneself to eating lettuce is a reasonable decision. Deciding on the contrary is solely on the person’s lack of control of his desire.
Personally, Plato’s idea of a person’s decisions is contentious. It could be that a person’s decisions or choices do not entirely rely on his control of his desires. Situation, context, and resources are three of the many things that affect a person’s decision of doing an act. In the example stated before, it is undisputable that the reason why it is important to eat proportional amount of different kinds of food is that failure to do so will possibly make a person ill because of deficiency of essential nutrients that make the body function well. However, it is not always irresponsible for a person to do the latter because the person’s state should be taken into consideration.
An immediate and most relatable example for this is college students. Most college students are aware of the body needs but they still eat too much unhealthy instant food, and they seldom eat the prescribed food. The answers to the students’ choice of food are time and money. A college student is always busy. They do not have time to cook their own food so they resort to eat at fast-food restaurants and if they cook, it is usually canned food or instant noodles. Instant food are also cheaper than the scratch materials to cook food so students would go for the prior choice. A college student has a risk of having unsatisfactory life involving health concerns, but this is not entirely because of his poor decision making skills.
Plato’s Symposium shows that human beings live unsatisfactory lives because of passionate love. This is because passionate love makes people vulnerable to accident of loss, departure, and betrayal. Plato’s ideas of love are (1) a person cannot love or desire for the sake of the other and (2) proper love is not love of an individual person but love of the desirable qualities that the individual has. This idea of love, called Platonic Love, is selfish and unemotional compared to the idea of passionate love. Platonic Love theoretically will not make a person live an unsatisfactory life because he is not in love with the person itself, a creature able to disappoint or hurt, but to the concept of love.
The point of Plato that a person cannot love or desire for the sake of the other is not agreeable at some point. While it is true that a person loves another person not because the latter needs it but because the prior is attracted to a quality or characteristic of the person he loves, it is absurd that a person could only love someone because that someone could be used to his own benefit, as if a person is an object with no emotions that could be used as means to an end. The second point, which is the proper love is the love of the concept, is also superficial. This kind of approach makes a person love only the desirable qualities and leave out the unwanted qualities of another person – a case very apparent to many people today that is why there are many failed relationships between lovers, friends, family, etc.
Friendship between persons will not work if the persons only think of what is beneficial and what is good, and the conflicts are not communicated well. For example, X and Y have the same humor, have the same likes and dislikes, help each other in school works, or they have a lot in similar, but not everything. In the event that X wants to do something that Y does not like, the latter would restrict the prior to do so. Basically, Y is in control of X because the prior only thinks of what he wants and what he could get from X. When X tries to explain to Y that he cannot just tell him what to do, the latter would get angry. It would be better for X to disregard all the good things he has with Y than to hold on to it to have a companion, but he has no control over his own life.
So why emotions, choices, and love are being talked about in this paper? Something that most people do not know is that these three are connected with each other in attaining a satisfactory life. Personally, a person cannot live independently. Each person that an individual meets plays a part in his life, however big or small it may be. That is why it is important to have a healthy relationship with other people – so how does one achieve a healthy relationship with someone? It starts with an emotion. Romantic love, for instance, starts with a feeling. A feeling that a person has to someone – that that someone is a girl of his dreams because she is intellectual, kind, humorous, etc. So the boy will pursue the girl – and in case the girl gives in, they will be in a romantic relationship. Nevertheless, this relationship can be broken because the girl is not just someone who is intellectual, kind, and humorous. She could also be a loud eater, untidy with her things, an impulsive buyer, and other things that could annoy the boy. In this case, love becomes a choice. They either work their relationship out by settling their problems, or just cling into what is good about the each other. Bottom-line, emotions are a shaky foundation in maintaining relations with everyone – it is important to make decisions based on what reason approves.