Happiness and Moral Perfection Study Sections

    In my last post, I showed that only intrinsically good acts are compatible with perfect happiness. Since perfect happiness requires that we pursue what is intrinsically good, it is natural to ask whether or not it requires moral perfection. Perfect happiness does not actually require moral perfection, but immoral acts will guarantee the lose of happiness at some point in the future.

    Consider a single immoral act. In order for an act to be immoral, one of three possibilities must be true. First, a person deceives themselves about how to achieve the good they are trying to achieve. Second, a person is willfully ignorant about the good they are trying to achieve. Third and finally, a person makes a intellectual error that they should have avoided that leads to them incorrectly pursuing the good they are trying to achieve. In all of these cases, the act that they are doing is done because it aims at some intrinsic good. In this case, it is an act that is directly aimed at an intrinsic good. All of these cases also have an error in which the act that one is doing at least partially acts against the good it is intended to achieve.

    This means that moral perfection is required to sustain any state of perfect happiness. While perfect happiness could be achieved without moral perfection, the moment that one did something immoral that state is guaranteed to be lost. This is because the good that we are aiming at with our act does not fully appear. Since we did not receive what we desired, we will lose complete satisfaction sometime in the future. This does not even consider such things as feelings of guilt and shame, or such things as a desire to make right we did wrong.

    So the question of whether or not perfect happiness requires moral perfection has two answers. The first answer is that it does not. The state of perfect happiness can exist without moral perfection. However, the second answer is that it does because without moral perfection the state of perfect happiness is temporary. If someone lacks moral perfection then, given sufficient time, that person will do something wrong. As a result they will be guaranteed to lose the state of perfect happiness that they enjoy.

    So it is probably best to distinguish between the two states of being. The state of perfect happiness without moral perfection will be called innocent happiness. The person has done nothing wrong, but lacks moral perfection. The state of perfect happiness with moral perfection will be called mature happiness.

    I started this series by aiming to discuss what is most important in our lives. I claimed that this is happiness. I have shown that there is a problem obtaining happiness and have begun discussing the nature of perfect happiness. But there are two further issues that need to be discussed before I can begin discussing how to obtain perfect happiness. The first issue is whether actual wrongdoing in the past is compatible with perfect happiness in the present. The second issue is whether or not anything beyond moral perfection is required for perfect happiness.

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