Human Good In Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics

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In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle synthesizes an enthralling dissertation that, “the human good proves to be activity of soul in accord with excellence” (1098a 16-17) which requires, “a rational principle” (1098a 7-8). Even though some critics may contend that the human good lies within something other than excellently acting in accordance with reason, the case set forth in Nicomachean Ethics dismisses such detractors as inordinately obstinate in their parochial ideology. To support his conclusion, Aristotle adroitly employs several cogent premises. This paper will explain how Aristotle reaches his conclusion and examine potential flaws in his argument First, I will state each proposition in Aristotle’s argument. After I present an individual…show more content…
This means that people’s disciplines and actions seek some purpose that can be viewed as good. For instance, the good that is sought after by those who practice medicine would be health. It is important to note, some actions may not be good by everyone’s standards, but they are at the very least subjectively good to the agents performing the actions. Next, Aristotle reaches the second part of his argument by explaining that there is a hierarchy of good; meaning that some actions seek a good that is not intrinsically good in and of itself, but is only good because it results in something else that is good. If we follow this line of thinking there must be a superordinate good that all actions ultimately seek. Aristotle sums this up writing, “Suppose, then, that the things achievable by action have some end that we wish for because of itself… Clearly, this end will be good, that is to say, the best good” (1094a 18-22). Moreover, the existence of a superordinate good does beg the question, of what exactly this good is; the next premise of Aristotle’s argument addresses this very question. As put by Aristotle, “Now happiness, more than anything else, seems complete without qualification. For we always choose it because of itself’ (1097a 37-1097b…show more content…
First, Aristotle asserts that humans have a function, and that function is to act in accord with the rational part of the soul. However, Aristotle fails to demonstrate why acting rationally is the function of humans. He argues that rationality is our purpose because humans are the only animals capable of reason. However, this simply does not follow; just because only humans are capable of reason does not mean that it is our purpose. There are plenty of capabilities humans possess that distinguish them from other animals. For example, in addition to reason, no other animal is capable of running for as long as a human being can, but that does not mean that it is our purpose to run long distances. It seems that Aristotle fails to realize that anything’s function is entirely dependent on its utility to an outside agent. For instance, a knife’s purpose is to cut, and if that knife cuts cleanly and well, we would say that it is a good knife. However, its function is entirely subjective, knives have no objective function on their own; they only have a purpose because people have a use for them. Therefore, it should follow that if humans were to have a function, there must be some creator, god, or higher power that assigns a function to human beings. This is where Aristotle’s argument really starts to fall apart since you must first accept the premise that there is a
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