Nelson Mandela and Vincent Van Gogh are two significant characters, who each was considered one of the most important contributors in his field of interest. Though the former a political leader and the latter a painter, certain aspects of their lives that fostered their greatness are extremely similar, such as both experienced great misfortunes yet did not concede in the pursuit of their desire. Furthermore, both figures left behind a tremendous amount of precious legacies that has yet to stop in benefiting the human race.
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This paper aims to discuss on how well the two figures lived and how bad certain periods of their lives were, in light of ancient Greek philosophies, such as those of Aristotle and Epicurus, and fictional characters from books which illustrate notions that advances the discussion. ***Moreover, it is crucial to define various key terms, for they all possess profound meanings veiled by their vague, common understanding. For example, the words well and bad above are quote mark for detailed definitions are need in order for them to contribute to the exploration of the two figures’ lives.
To begin with, let’s examine the lives of Van Gogh and Mandela through the lens of Aristotelian philosophies by first establishing Aristotle’s theories. In Nicomachean Ethics, notes of his philosophy gathered by students, Aristotle defines eudaimoniaGreek for happiness or success, as the supreme good and the end that all our activities ultimately aim for. He believes that happiness is an activity of the rational soul in accordance to virtue. Furthermore, according to Aristotle, virtue, or excellence, is a disposition to behave in the right manner and as a mean between the two extremesvicesof deficiency and excess, a definition that emphasizes the importance of moderation. Furthermore, one learns moral virtue not through reasoning or instruction but through habituation and practice. Combining the definitions of happiness and virtue, Aristotle presents an idea that while happiness is the activity of living well, virtue represents the potential to live well.
From Aristotle’s perspective, Van Gogh was far from obtaining happiness. First of all, Van Gogh did not live to witness his own fame. He died with the knowledge that only one of his roughly seven-hundred paintings was ever sold. Barely anyone appreciated his work while he was alive and he only achieved excellence because people’s definition of great art shifted towards his style of painting. Thus, it is impossible for Van Gogh to experience happiness from painting because he was not considered an excellent painter while alive. Furthermore, as Aristotle’s definition of virtue emphasizes on balance, Van Gogh failed in finding the balance of many virtues, eliminating his chance of living well and being happy. For example, described by many as stubborn, he constantly argued with almost everyone around him and did not accept rejection at all,
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