The American Aristotle?


For Aristotle, the goal of all human activity is happiness. Everything people pursue (money, honor, pleasure), they pursue because they think it will make them happy. The art of living well is knowing what sort of activities will make you happy, and which will not. For Aristotle, the life of virtue (or excellence, an alternate translation of Aristotle’s arete) is the key to happiness.

Allot of people have speculated about what makes Duck Dynasty America’s top rated TV show.  Perhaps it is a reflection on the economic rise of the South after a century of stagnation (notice how Redneck is no longer a pejorative term), the undeniable charm of Southern idiom and manners, or the appeal across generations and genders.

But I think it is deeper than that. We all want to be happy, and Duck Dynasty is all about being happy, happy, happy.  Aristotle was convinced that happiness is the driving force behind all human choices, and Duck patriarch Phil Robertson quite explicit in his belief that humans are put on this earth to achieve happiness. A TV show about happiness (and ducks) is bound to get viewers.

Of course we are all familiar with the Robertson mantra of faith, family and the great outdoors. According to Emmanuel Kant these are the three spheres of human thought: God, nature, and our fellow man. It boils down to relationships: how we relate to God, those around us, and to the natural world… beyond these three, what else is there to relate to? If God, nature, and family are your loves, if you choose to do right by them, what else is there for you to worry about?

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