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20th Century Philosophy

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By deezx
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Martha Nussbaum is a 20th century American philosopher, she writes about deep philosophical problems that human beings are faced with today. She uses the teachings of past philosophers to help justify her philosophy. Nussbaums’ philosophy is shaped strongly around changing how we think of ethics to a more “holistic” way. Nussbaum argues something that many philosophers before her built their philosophies on, the idea of “justice” and how one should go about living a “good” life. For Augustine in particular living a completely just life goes hand in hand with having complete order in your life. Nussbaum argues that the “good life” in a way makes people oblivious and vulnerable to what the world truly has in store and could negate their “human flourishing”.
Augustine’s’ philosophy takes account of Nussbaum’s ideas the most because he basically objects to any notions of the good life, Augustine recognized that no object can be good or bad, but our will as humans is what takes a good thing and then makes them bad. He believes that the reason evil even exists is because humans are not perfect. Augustine of Hippo also known as St. Augustine was an early philosopher who’s philosophy paved the way for what is now Western Christianity, one if his most important pieces of work, “City of God” is still read widely today. He influenced Western Christianity greatly because he believed that all Christians should be pacifists but at the same time he also asserted that one should always defend themselves and others especially if authorized by a legitimate authority aka God. Augustine is a strong believer in Natural Theology which is the idea that nature is created by God and all things in nature are good because God only creates good things, but that is when you get the question of where does evil come from? His answer to that question is that evil comes from the soul and will of a person. Nussbaum’s idea that living a good life is a tragedy or fragile goes hand in hand with that ideas of Augustine because Augustine understands that living a well rounded life in this temporary life that were in is not worth with the good life that is essentially the eternal life, and Nussbaum’s ideas really plays on the fact that living an all around good life makes people naïve and helpless towards what the world truly has in store for them. If we stopped thinking of life in such a “personal” point of view we would not have this trouble, we need to have principles that apply to everyone as a whole. Both Nussbaum and Augustine’s have a lot of reference to the Hellenistic philosophy of Stoicism.
Stoicisms is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens. In a nutshell the stoicistic school of thought tells people that they should not care about what happens in the world and only care about what they know. Stoics believe that fear and envy come from false judgments. Stoicisms is achieved when a person accepts what happened without complaining or showing emotion. To relate this back to Nussbaum’s theory of good life, one must in a way close themselves off from the influence of others, because the influence of others is what makes them weak. Human beings are the reason that there is good and bad like Nussbaum said so if one just ignores the influence of others they will then be completely indifferent both pleasure and pain, they become completely impassive. Nussbaum believes in the idea of Apatheia, which is the idea that one is not affected by suffering because to her a good life is somewhat of an isolated life. Augustine does not agree with that he believes that people should always feel pain rather than be insensitive to it. His ideas are more Ataraxia, which means that a person has hikes of pain and pleasure. Augustine follows that Manichaeism religion which relates back to the idea that sin comes from the soul and the will but not the body. Manichaeism says that God and evil are opposing because of the lack of being and unbeing (nothingness). To truly fulfill the idea of the good life in correspondence to Augustine’s ideas of what the good life is one that the nature of a human being is a complete unity between body and soul. The soul and body are good because they follow in what God himself is good, but that is what leads to the issue of human virtue. Human’s basic problem is pride, they want to put themselves in the place of God and makes them want to be the highest good.
Nussbaum’s ideas of a good life is somewhat of a weakness because it makes one very vulnerable because it is humans learning to not feel any emotion to anything. Nobody can actually do so and become completely stoic. Augustine’s idea of living Ataraxia are what is the most realistic but is also quite drastic. One should try to live a perfect medium between the two, which would be one that understands and accepts pain and pleasure but does not feel completely indifferent to them, one should be somewhat effected by what is going on around them.

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