Revisiting Aristotle: In Pursuit of Happiness
The best answer to Putnam can be found in Aristotle. Two and a half millennia before any modern discussions of social capital, liberals and communitarians or the tension between individual rights and a Common Good, this first truly practical philosopher laid down a compelling vision of happiness. Happiness is found primarily in the proper exercise of man's natural facility for practical and theoretical reason. Happiness, or the good life, is nothing more than the naturally emergent byproduct of consciously living a life in pursuit of excellence and in accordance with both what is rational and what is virtuous. Happiness, for Aristotle, arises naturally from the proper living of life. This interpretation of eudaimonia brings with it the principal advantage that it is dynamic. For Aristotle, virtue is not only what helps one determine when he/she has attained true happiness, and it is more than a necessary prerequisite for happiness.