The Pursuit of ‘Happyness’

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June 28, 2007

Actor Will Smith received a Best Actor nomination in 2006 for his role as Chris Gardner, a stuggling single father of a five year-old boy. “The Pursuit of Happyness” was inspired by a true story, and is a moving portrayal of courage, tenacity, and street smarts, as the hero tries to make it as an unpaid intern in a San Francisco brokerage firm. At times homeless, at times lying to make a sale, his career finally takes off, and he eventually makes his fortune on Wall Street.

I enjoyed the movie, but it also bothered me a bit. At the very end, I found myself wondering, “Is that it?” Is money the secret of ‘happyness?’ The film seemed to be saying that material wealth is the goal we should all strive for.

Aristotle taught that moral virtue was the real secret of happiness, and the most important thing to aim for in life. It is also an unlimited good – in other words, you can never have it in excess. Contrast this with Aristotle’s view of wealth, as a means to a more noble end, but never an end in itself.

For more, see Mortimer Adler: Aristotle for Everybody

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