The Good Life

I’ve quoted the definition of the good life here before; it is: “happiness,” or the good life, which is to be attained in a community of family and friends who can satisfy one another’s material and social needs, behave justly toward one another, and, according to their capacity, contemplate the Good.

I am reading Till We Have Built Jerusalem by Phillip Bess, a professor of architecture at Notre Dame. He writes:

Ethics and politics in this tradition are related to each other, and the subject matter of each is the good life for human beings – which itself is related intrinsically to life in a city (polis). The good life for any individual human being is the life of moral and intellectual excellence lived in communities – a “community” being any group of persons who pursues a common end. The ultimate human community is the city, Aristotle’s community of communities, the foremost purpose of which is the best life for its citizens.

I tend to agree with the ideals of New Urbanism, but the drawback that I see personally is affordability. Moving into a city like D.C., or living in the planned New Urban community tends to cost a lot more than going to the cheap outer rim suburbs. If I could afford to live in a neighborhood setting, I would. I really long for that kind of community, and I’m tired of the suburbs with the buffer of land all around you and not knowing anyone or anything around you.

Bess sums up the tradition on the good life:

the good life for individual human beings is the life of individual moral and intellectual virtue (or excellence) lived with others in communities. Aristotle himself characterized the four components of the good life as good health, sufficient wealth to satisfy our bodily needs, good habits, and good fortune.

Also:

the city (is) the foremost community that exists for the sake of the good life.

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