Nocturnal Issue II - Page 27

I LIKE TO PARTY — JONNY PENN IF YOU WANT TO BE HAPPY YOU SHOULD THROW A PARTY I love to party! I love to dance, drink, and play. Many of my favourite moments have been late on a Friday/Saturday night, enjoying the combination of my friends and loud music – and most commonly, late night fast food! While these are some of my fondest time, I entertain the thought that is this when I’m most happy? Am I even happy? Many people nowadays see work as a means to party, that the point of attaining money is to throw their earnings into alcohol bottles and good times. Perhaps this view is fuelled by dance music hitting the charts and a love of party tunes. The only pleasure, media argues, is greater would be that of sex. But it’s clear in our society that if you want to be happy you should throw a party. Firstly, this view leads to the modern conclusion that happiness is an emotion, that you feel happy, and we tend to assume this is the same thing as being happy. But this isn't a modern idea! Aristotle believed happiness to be a way of being, not a feeling, and this stems from his teacher, Plato’s, view that being happy would mean having a soul in a state of “justice” with reason and will in tune with our everyday desires and “appetites”. These appetites would seem to be the desire to play tennis with the tonsils of strangers at parties under the influence of alcohol. Of course, some these pleasurable feelings do relate to true happiness. But Aristotle would have no time for people “feeling” happy. It’s all about the way of existing. And, like us, for Aristotle the whole purpose of life is to be happy. However this way of being is hardly straightforward and comprises Aristotle’s “doctrine of the mean” which is sometimes regarded as a counsel of moderation: Don’t go to extremes! However, where does partying fit into this? Partying is about extremes, drinking not in moderation, and committing offences you’ll regret the next day. At least that is the beauty of the modern nightlife, which doesn’t fit in with his counsel of moderation. It’s the kind of thing your parents would have taught you. However this is not, I don’t think, what Aristotle meant. When you look to Aristotle for his interpretation, as common in philosophy, you won’t find much help. But I think Aristotle wants us to party hard (I mean what else is Aristocracy about, look at the Great Gatsby), but that if we party hard all the time, we’ll burn out. I think the doctrine of the mean is in relation to us: that we shouldn’t pick the midpoint of two extremes (drinking three double vodkas and red bulls, instead of six or instead of none) but you need to pick your moments. What you should do (and what you should feel) relies on the circumstances you’re in. So if the party is good, drink as much as you want. And according to Aristotle you can still find yourself happy. But Aristotle’s view is not what we’ve really been taught, or inherited from the misguided opinions of our parents, and the misguided views of their parents. In fact, trace it back long enough and the modern idea of happiness extends from the father of modern philo ͽ