The Relationship Between Happiness, Morality, and Consciousness

Lucas Charbonnier

Lucas Charbonnier

Aug 23, 20233 min read


The Relationship Between Happiness, Morality, and Consciousness


The concepts of happiness, morality, and consciousness have long been subjects of philosophical inquiry. In this article, we will explore the relationship between these three elements and examine different perspectives on their interplay. Can happiness be considered a moral end? What grounds morality, and can happiness serve as a guiding criterion? Additionally, we will delve into the nature of consciousness and its role in shaping our understanding of ourselves and our actions.

I. Happiness as Not a Moral End:

Kant, a prominent philosopher, argues against considering happiness as a moral end. According to Kant, morality consists of fulfilling our duties, which should be disinterested and without seeking rewards. Morality does not seek pleasure or happiness. At best, we can "make ourselves deserving of happiness." Whether morality brings us happiness or unhappiness, it does not affect the uncompromising nature of moral duty. Happiness, therefore, becomes a mere hope and an anthropological need that must be pursued outside of moral duty and can potentially be satisfied as an additional outcome.

II. Happiness as a Moral End:

1. The Association of Happiness, Virtue, and Knowledge:

Eudaimonism argues that happiness and duty are inseparable and that they unite in an association between happiness, virtue, and knowledge. According to this perspective, true happiness is achieved through the pursuit of virtue and the acquisition of knowledge. By embodying virtuous qualities and seeking wisdom, one can attain genuine happiness.

2. Happiness in Asceticism:

For the Stoics, happiness lies in freedom and virtue. True freedom, according to the Stoics, is the freedom of will, which should not desire what is beyond our control. Pursuing external goods such as health, wealth, fame, or even the body itself, makes us slaves to our passions and ultimately unhappy. Asceticism, in this context, refers to the daily exercise of the will to detach oneself from external goods, which are deemed as mere "indifferents."

3. The Pursuit of the Highest Good for Its Own Sake:

Aristotle views happiness as the highest good and something to be pursued for its own sake. However, external circumstances, such as health, material well-being, or political freedom, contribute to happiness. These factors are necessary but not sufficient to attain true happiness. In this regard, Aristotle disagrees with thinkers like the Stoics, who argue that virtue alone is enough, regardless of material conditions.

III. Understanding Consciousness:

The concept of consciousness is rooted in the Latin term "cum-scire," which means "to know with." Having consciousness means being aware of one's knowledge or actions. It involves a reflective return to oneself, allowing us to grasp the unity of our thoughts and lives. Consciousness enables us to understand our own mental states, perceptions, and experiences.


The relationship between happiness, morality, and consciousness is complex and multifaceted. While Kant argues against happiness as a moral end, other perspectives, such as eudaimonism and Aristotelianism, see happiness and virtue as interconnected. The Stoics emphasize the importance of inner freedom and detachment from external goods for achieving happiness. Meanwhile, consciousness provides us with self-awareness and allows us to comprehend the unity of our thoughts and actions. Ultimately, understanding the interplay between happiness, morality, and consciousness can lead us to a more profound understanding of ourselves and our place in the world.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Reflect on your motivations: Take the time to reflect on why you engage in moral actions. Are you solely seeking happiness or personal gain, or do you genuinely believe in the value of morality for its own sake?
  • 2. Cultivate inner freedom: Practice detaching yourself from external circumstances and material possessions. Focus on developing inner virtues and qualities that contribute to your overall well-being and happiness.
  • 3. Nurture self-awareness: Engage in practices that promote self-reflection and introspection. Explore techniques such as mindfulness meditation or journaling to deepen your understanding of your own thoughts, emotions, and actions.

By incorporating these actionable advice into your life, you can navigate the intricate relationship between happiness, morality, and consciousness while striving for personal growth and fulfillment.

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