Megan Olinger P. 5 Honorbound
In life, every human has a function, and it is through accomplishing or achieving this goal that a human being can obtain total happiness and live a contemplative life. With the help of capitalism, “an economic or political system where the things that are used in a country’s trade and transport are controlled by private owners or individuals, rather than by the government” that one can reach his functionality (Merriam Webster). Simply put, it is an individual’s power to make his own decisions, rather than being told what to do by a higher power (i.e., the government), that enables him to attain this type of life. With that in mind, many people wonder if having the power to choose what he or she wants in life is a help or a hindrance in achieving the “good life?” Personally, I believe that capitalism helps in achieving one’s full function, and then in the end ultimately reaching the good or contemplative life.
When an American is born, he receives certain rights, these rights are known as human rights. Having these human rights, we are born equally into society and live a life free of discrimination and torture, a life of freedom of thought and expression, and a life with the right to education and privacy, as well as many others. Equality provides that every individual in our society is born to the same standard. One is not permitted to treat another person badly because he is born of a different race, religion or gender. The ability to live a life free of discrimination and torture means that we should be able to live without fear of being hurt by those around us. To live a life of freedom of thought and expression means that we are able to speak our minds and let our opinions be heard without the fear of being discriminated against by someone who disagrees with something that we say or believe. Finally, to live a life with the right to education provides every human being with the right to learn and hopefully one day make a name for themselves empowered with the knowledge that they have accumulated throughout their schooling. To live a life with the right to privacy enables us to protect our family name, protect our homes, and keep our identity secure. The common thread uniting all of these rights, and many more, is one underlying theme — Capitalism. It all depends on the choices we make. The following is an example of how we use our freedom and our rights to make our own decisions throughout our daily life because “Every agent acts for an end” (Fagothey 33).
After many applications, long waits, many acceptances and one final selection, you start attending the college of your dreams. You choose where you want to live, who you want to live with and what activities you want to participate in. If you haven’t made a decision already, the time has now come and you have to choose the major that you will want to pursue. What are your interests? What are your goals? Anything spark a particular interest? No one can make this decision but you. You know that you love children. You know that you want to help people. You know that you enjoy science. So, you choose to study pediatric nursing. You choose, with the assistance of a guidance counselor, what classes to take. If you need it, you can choose to get help in those challenging courses because after all, “individuals are educated more perfectly under a system of private education; for then each get more precisely what he needs”(Nicomachean Ethics). You complete your freshman year, your sophomore year, your junior year, and finally, you are finishing up your senior year. Now, you have successfully finished four years of college and are graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. You are ready to begin your career and are eager to begin interviewing. You are ready to land your first job. Having a job will allow you to earn a profit and make a living, enabling you to provide for yourself. This, in turn, helps the economy overall. But perhaps more importantly, it helps get you closer to obtaining your true function in life. You have applied for many positions. You have interviewed successfully and confidently. You have received replies saying they could use your skills and knowledge. You would be a great fit for their organization. You meet with potential supervisors; discuss pay and schedules, work hours, and potential benefits. You analyze, review and discuss your options. Now, it is your choice to decide which organization is best place for you. You secure a position as a nurse in a neo-natal intensive care unit at a children’s hospital in downtown Dallas. By now, you may be wondering how could you possibly have the freedom and right to choose between several awesome jobs? It is all because of Capitalism!
As you are working, you are accumulating vacation and other benefits. The choice is yours — When you want to use that time? How much time off do you want to take? Where do you want to go on vacation? How much is it going to cost? How are you going to get there? Where are you going to stay once you are there? What sites do you want to see and what activities do you want to do? The long hours in the sterile neo-natal unit taking care of the sick infants provides many rewards, both emotionally and financially. A vacation is a welcome benefit and can be spent in total relaxation at the place of your choice.
Time marches on and your working days turn into years. You become more serious with your significant other. You begin talking marriage. You dream of buying a home for the two of you, perhaps one big enough in which to raise a family. These decisions are possible because of Capitalism. You can decide whether you want to rent or buy. You can decide whether you want an apartment or a home. You can decide on the size of the dwelling—how big or how quaint? What it will look like – modern or traditional? How many rooms will it have – two living areas or three? Will it have a yard or a pool – or a combination of both? Where will it be located – close to work or downtown or in the suburbs? What can you afford to pay each month – a thirty year mortgage or could you pay for it in just fifteen years?
A good is “that at which all things [in life] aim”, an end is “that for the sake of which a thing is done”, and “happiness is the basic motive in all we do” (Fagothey 32, 60). Reviewing one’s goods and one’s ends, we discover that “men are called morally good if their lives are directed to their last end, and their acts are called morally good if they are the kind that lead men to the last end” (Fagothey, 41). Having choices allows us to be happy, and being happy allows us to enjoy our actions that get us to our final ends. As Aristotle explains in The Politics, “a state is a body of citizens [, or individuals] sufficing for the purposes of life”, and it is through the actions of this “community of free men”, that we are able to fulfill our functions and reach the ultimate end of living a contemplative life. It is because of Capitalism that we have the rights and freedom to choose what we want to do with our lives. It is because of Capitalism that we are happy and complete in our individual functions, and ultimately reach our final end, a contemplative life.
“Capitalism.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2013.
Fagothey, Austin. Right and Reason; Ethics in Theory and Practice. 2nd ed. Rockford, IL: Tan and, 2000.