Thucydide vs Plato on The Good Life Essay

1927 Words Aug 4th, 2014 8 Pages
Thucydides Versus Plato: Differing Views of the Good Life What is the true nature of the Good Life? Is it living life with concern for only oneself despite the possible consequences of one's action on others? Or might it involve self-sacrifice in effort to do what one feels is right or just? Is it descriptive, or perhaps prescriptive? Two prominent Greeks, Thucydides and Plato, began providing answers to these questions over 25 centuries ago as they analyzed and wrote critically about life's ethical implications. They shined contrasting light on what is right, just, and good; as well as ways to achieve true happiness. In short, each gave an opinion on how to garner the Good Life. Let's start by taking a look at Thucydides, …show more content…
In the end, Socrates' anecdotes show that living a modest and virtuous versus aggrandized and self-serving lifestyle, results in true happiness. But, was Plato right? How does his prescription of self-sacrifice for the good of all compare to Thucydides' win-at-any-cost descriptions of the Athenians in Melos. Which view is most just or right? Which will make a human's life truly happy and good? For those who choose to live lavishly no matter the cost, or perhaps feel the nature of life is such that strength and power trump weakness and subservience, Thucydides' empirical recollection of Athenian army actions at Melos must seem justified. Don't those who have achieved dominance naturally deserve to live the Good Life? To the contrary, for others who believe that self-sacrifice and virtue are the key to justice, Plato's normative philosophy would be the wiser choice to attain happiness and goodness. One could surmise Thucydides was reporting the way life is, while Plato was analyzing and communicating the way things ought to be. Personally, the author of this document is a retired military member of the U.S. Air Force (U.S.A.F.) and thus might be expected to have empirical views, especially in times of war. However, his firm belief in the Geneva Conventions and the U.S.A.F. core values of integrity first, service-before-self, and excellence
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