'Tis clear, then, that happiness is a state perfected by the assembling together of all good things. To this state, as we have said, all men try to attain, but by different paths. For the desire of the true good is naturally implanted in the minds of men; only error leads them aside out of the way in pursuit of the false.
Some, deeming it the highest good to want for nothing, spare no pains to attain affluence; others, judging the good to be that to which respect is most worthily paid, strive to win the reverence of their fellow-citizens by the attainment of official dignity. Some there are who fix the chief good in supreme power; these either wish themselves to enjoy sovereignty, or try to attach themselves to those who have it. Those, again, who think renown to be something of supreme excellence are in haste to spread abroad the glory of their name either through the arts of war or of peace. A great many measure the attainment of good by joy and gladness of heart; these think it the height of happiness to give themselves over to pleasure. Others there are, again, who interchange the ends and means one with the other in their aims; for instance, some want riches for the sake of pleasure and power, some covet power either for the sake of money or in order to bring renown to their name.
If Wealth leads to happiness, value is measured by market success. If you spend your energy trying to accumulate wealth and protect your wealth, and hire people to aid you in your wealth, are you really secure?
Boethius: Wherefore, if wealth cannot get rid of want, and makes new wants of its own, how can ye believe that it bestows independence? Book III.iii
Questions for the Great Conversation: If I am starting a business because I want to make money, does it matter what I offer? Is it ethical to sell a product I know is bad? So then is 'starting a business to make money' really what I am seeking? Is there something more essential or is money itself my aim?
Boethius asks, Do you think the man powerful who is more afraid of others than they are of him? Book III.V
Questions for the Great Conversation: If power is what I need to be happy, to be free, assess the following statement, "It is the strength of our military that gives us Freedom." If this is the case, does that mean that a strong military anywhere ensures freedom? So North Korea, China, Nazi Germany all ensure freedom because they have strong military's? Or is freedom something else?
FAME / CELEBRITY
PRESTIGE / HONOR
Question for the Great Conversation: Does being granted a high office, rank make the person Virtuous?
Test for yourself can any one of these lesser goods be considered the Ultimate Good, goal to Happiness and Virtue?
Lets Evaluate the statement, "I want to get good grades / test scores so I can get into a reputable school so that I can get a diploma so that I can get a good paying job so that I can be happy and do what I want."
- Do the test scores determine what you have learned? Perhaps to some degree, but is all learning measurable are there other factors which contribute to your knowledge and capabilities?
- Do reputable schools excel because they are reputable? What are the factors which go into making that reputation?
- Does the diploma measure what you have learned; of what your are capable? Or is there some sort of portfolio of your work; a track record which indicates the value of that piece of paper?
- If a good paying job is how you measure success, does it matter what that job is? Does that job actually make you happy?
- What does "doing what I want" actually entail? What do these last factors indicate about responsibility to the community and the world?
For Educators: If the goal ensuring income to keep the school fiscally viable, then all decisions would seem to center around money. Are we in the field of Education for the sake of Money? What does that do to education when we begin to describe students and curriculum in market terms? If we place high emphasis on the test scores, as an indicator of the effectiveness of our curriculum and teaching method (i.e. student as "product"), can we support it with follow up questions. How do we ensure we are not structuring our curriculum to make good test takers? necessarily good scholars, independent thinkers? Does our curriculum and teaching method work for all students, if so, all students should do well in this environment.
If it shows that our teaching method is ineffective for all students, for example students leave for other schools, or do not seem to do well by measured and timely scores - then we cannot say we offer the best method. The measured & timely score also does not necessarily indicate what a student has learned.
These are just some of the basic questions which ought always be raised when discussing Virtue Ethics in the context of Education.
In closing, the Goods of Fortune are nice additions to life, they are not in and of themselves Virtuous. Unchecked they are the things which cater to our desires and wants…not to our soul.
Regarding the Goods of Fortune Boethius writes …there is plainly nothing to be truly desired, nothing of intrinsic excellence; for she neither always joins herself to the good, nor does she make good men of those to whom she is united. Book II.vi