Chemistry Laboratory at Howard University, Washington, D.C., Library of Congress
In this part of our reading about ethics, we look at the quest for personal happiness. Almost all variations in this quest stem from the philosophy and example of Socrates, and so we begin with the "Socratic Paradox."
The quest for intrinsic goods—whether pleasure, power, knowledge, or beauty—has led many persons to believe that people are ultimately selfish. If they are not selfish, at least, then, it is thought, people are always self-interested. We evaluate the persuasiveness of these claims.
The questions of psychological and ethical egoism lead us ultimately to the ethics of Aristotle: the question of the good life for man. How do we obtain an life of excellence—a life of living well and doing well in the affairs of the world?