Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Suffering Turned to Holiness is the Highest Happiness

Another good one from David Brooks, "What Suffering Does."  His main point:

The right response to this sort of pain is not pleasure. It’s holiness. ... It means seeing life as a moral drama, placing the hard experiences in a moral context and trying to redeem something bad by turning it into something sacred.
Amen.  And this is a conclusion that you have to choose for yourself.  It is a hard choice. I don't think those who do not get there are to be blamed.

But there is a further step, which takes us back to happiness. At the end of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle says that the highest happiness comes from contemplation.  This comes as a bit of a surprise, after the first nine books talk about how to achieve happiness through action. 

I believe, though, that Aristotle is right.  It is only in contemplating the fruits of a life of active virtue that we can have a deeper understanding of what happiness is.  And the deepest understanding comes from contemplating suffering turned into holiness.


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