The Unhappiness of Tony Soprano: An Ancient Analysis - AST-TOK

The Unhappiness of Tony
Soprano: An Ancient
By Ricardo Faraj
“Tony on Happiness”
 Tony Soprano is a man who
has both aim and reach.
 Tony is not happy, despite
“having it all”, Tony feels
like such a loser.
 He approaches happiness
in three different ways: that
of the “whiners”, the “happy
wanderers”, and the “Gary Cooper”.
“The Rest of Us”
 Aristotle summarized that it was a
matter of ancient “common sense”
the suggestion that happiness is a
matter of achieving a list of things.
 The Stoics said that in response to a list,
“not even” an abundance of goods makes
a difference to our hapiness”.
 To ancient greeks, happiness has two components:
Happiness is a matter of what we do and how we do it.
To live a happy life requires an effort to understand what really
makes life good.
“Happiness Requires
Integrated Motivations”
 We must start by reflecting
upon what it is we are really
after when it comes to our
 If we do come to realize what
motivates, the ancient imperative
is to continue to pursue only those things whose
motivation is one that can integrate all of our pursuits.
 Tony actually tries to justify his mob acitvity because it
allows him to support his family.
“Objections to the Integrated
Motivations View”
 The Ancients think they can recommend a happy
life as if it and an ethical life are one and the same.
 But, really, whatever the
psychological benefits of
working from a consistent
set of motivations, they
amount to neither
happiness nor morality.
“Gary Cooper”
 Tony has to reset his aims.
 He is not pursuing the things that will satisfy him
and instead acting under a
sort of compulsion.
 He cannot control his desires,
Dr Melfi suggests to Tony
that behavior therapy might
help Tony to manage his
“anger triggers”.

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