One way of gaining a better understanding of the good life for humans (happiness) is to consider what well-known philosophers have thought about the issue. Three of these philosophers are Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) and Plato (423-348 B.C.). Each of these philosophers has a different view of what constitutes the good life for humans. Each philosopher has a distinctive metaphysics (view of reality), epistemology (view of knowledge), anthropology (view of human nature), and ethics (view of the supreme good).
Your assignment is to explain how each philosopher’s view of the good life relates to his metaphysics, epistemology, anthropology, and ethics. To do this you will need to 1) articulate clearly their major terms (see list below). Next 2) explain whose view you find most convincing (that is, whose view is most true to your own experience and reasoned assessment and comes closest to your own), and 3) explain what limitations or weaknesses each position has.
Major terms for Nietzsche: will to power, self, consciousness, perspectivalism, critique of Christianity, self-overcoming, the eternal return, and the Overman.
Aquinas: the beatific vision, chain of being, relative understanding of wealth, honors, fame, health, etc., parts of powers of the soul (nutritive, sensitive, intellective), contemplation, will, and embodied spirit.
Plato: the look of the Good, the divided line, the soul, mathematicals, sensibles, forms (looks), the simile of the sun, the allegory of the cave, the philosopher ruler (king or queen), and the two returns to the cave.
Note: You do not have to address all of these. Simply choose the ones that in your judgment helps to explain the philosopher’s position within the allotted space.
An alternative way of organizing your thoughts on this topic is to consider that each philosopher’s view may be expressed in an “ideal type.” The ideal type is the highest attainable human expression of happiness or excellence. For Nietzsche this type is -the artist”. For Aquinas, it is -the pilgrim” (or for some “the saint’) and for Plato it is the “philosopher ruler (king or queen).” Whose ideal type do you find most compelling? Why?

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