The main topic of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics is eudaimonia, i.e. happiness in the “living well” or “flourishing” sense (terms I will be using interchangeably). In this paper, I will present Aristotle’s view on the role of external goods and fortune for the achievement of happiness. I will argue that he considers them a prerequisite for virtue. Their contribution to happiness is indirect, via the way they affect how we can engage in rational activity according to the relevant virtues. I will then object that this view threatens to make his overall account of happiness incoherent. Fortunately, there is a way to reconcile the apparent tensions, in book III.
In Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, the concept of happiness is introduced as the ultimate good one can achieve in life as well as the ultimate goal of human existence. As Aristotle goes on to further define happiness, one can see that his concept is much different from the 21st-century view. Aristotelian happiness can be achieved through choosing to live the contemplative life, which would naturally encompass moralistic virtue. This differs significantly from the modern view of happiness, which is heavily reliant on material goods. To a person in the 21st-century, happiness is simply an emotional byproduct one experiences as a result of acquiring material goods. Understanding Aristotelian happiness is important for the 21st century because
Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics begins by exploring ‘the good’. Book I argues that, unlike other goods, “happiness appears to be something complete and self-sufficient, and is, therefore, the end of actions” (10:1097b20-21). In other words, happiness is the ultimate good. But how does one achieve happiness? Aristotle formulates this in the context of work, since for all things, from artists to horses, “the good and the doing it well seem to be in the work” (10:1097b27-28). Much like the work of a harpist is to play the harp, “the work of a human being is a being-at-work of the soul in accordance with reason” (11:1098a7-8). Moreover, in order to achieve the good, it is important that each being performs his work excellently. While all harpists’
In the first book of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle’s informs the reader what Eudaimonia, or living well, is. The purpose of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, is to discover the human good. For Aristotle, the way to figure out a human being’s good, we have to identify what the function of a human being is. Throughout Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle claims that human function is rational activity and reason. Aristotle’s quest to determine what Eudaimonia, which can be translated to happiness and success, is in the Nicomachean Ethics and leads him to the question of the function of human beings. After reading all ten books of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, I am left perplexed when it comes to two points Aristotle argues about. Throughout this essay, I will argue against Aristotle’s definition of happiness and if a human being truly has a function or purpose.
The Nicomachean Ethics begin with a simple concept-- everyone wants happiness. In Book 1 of Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle explores what happiness is and how to achieve ultimate happiness and good life. In the passage, 1097b22-1098a18, also known as the “function argument”, he further explores the happiness as the chief good concept by examining human function and the good that comes along. In this passage, Aristotle’s thesis is that the good of humans resides in human function of activity with reason (rational activity). From this thesis, we can imply that the good performance of function can lead to ultimate happiness. To reach this conclusion, I will be splitting this passage into 3 parts. The first section is Aristotle’s introduction to
In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle argues that the human good is the soul’s activity that expresses virtue. Aristotle concludes this from an invalid argument. On the one hand I do agree that the activity expressing virtue is a requirement for the human good. But on the other hand, I insist that the human good is a state and not an action. By modifying this argument, I believe we can reach a new conclusion that will help us better understand what Aristotle meant by these concepts. To do this I must first explain several concepts of Aristotle which are: (1) how he concludes that the human function is reason, (2) what he means by happiness and how it is the human good, and (3) why he believes that the activity of the soul must be virtuous to become
Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Book ll, is about his idea of how people should live a virtuous life. Throughout this book, he explains that humans learn virtue from instructions and we learn virtue from practice too. Virtue is something that is very important because it is a moral habit that results in keeping our moral values. Aristotle believed that nobody is born with virtue, everyone has to work at it daily. After reading Nicomachean ethics, Book ll, my main conclusion of it is that us as humans are better off being virtuous than simply doing what we feel like doing at any moment in time.
Many philosophers, notably Aristotle (384-322 BC), produced a list of things that comprise quality of life writing specifically about “the good life” and “living well” and how public policy can help to foster it. In his work, Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle explained that eudaimonia means “doing and living well” and he used this term in the context of the highest human good. His treatise also examined the character traits that human beings need in order to live their lives in the best way. Another philosopher Epicurus created ethical theory of hedonism. He identified the eudaemonic life as the life of pleasure where eudaimonia is a more or less continuous experience of pleasure, just as freedom from pain and
Throughout the history, there have been heated discussions on what constitutes a good life. Philosophers have given different annotations on the meaning of good life based on their beliefs, perspectives or even scientific-based evidences. Some view a good life as an accumulation of material goods that brings “large amount” of pleasure to oneself. On the other hand, Mencius and Aristotle advocate good life as possessing of pleasure that incorporates ethical values and they believe that by doing so one will experience enduring happiness. There is no ultimate right or wrong for these interpretations since this is not a factual question. Therefore, rather than giving an accurate definition of a good life, this essay will focus on expressing my
Many classical philosophers have given their voice to the nature of human life and what entails its climax. The very nature of human beings has been investigated, broadly, to establish a comprehensive understanding often pegged on morality. Yet, such thoughts have prompted diverse viewpoints with accompanying grounds or reasons. Happiness is an unending topic of discussion in philosophy. This paper explores the similarities and differences in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism to coin a position in whether or not happiness is the ultimate end that human society aspires to acquire. In a critique of both the works, the paper adopts the Aristotelian thought citing that actions of human aims to fulfill goodness, which arguably is the happiness, one that arises from virtues practiced out of habit.
According to Aristotle, an individual can achieve happiness only by realizing all the works and activities in accordance with reason throughout his lifetime. He claimed that happiness consists in cultivating and exercising virtue and it is the ultimate purpose of human existence, as stated in his work Nicomachean Ethics “He is happy who lives in accordance with complete virtue and is sufficiently equipped with external goods, not for some chance period but throughout a complete life”. However, such Aristotelian concept of happiness inevitably contradicts the understanding of history as development which maintains that fulfilling the work of human exceeds the limits of an individual and thus can only be achieved in the course of history. Three
It has become apparent throughout time that moral conflicts are constantly challenging engineers. Whether it is related to infamous incidents that led to the downfall of professionals or the daily obstacles that engineers face, moral excellence is of the utmost importance in any field. Intellectual and character virtues, as exemplified in the philosophical context, are essential to engineering ethics. Of these virtues, engineers should strive for honesty, courage and fairness. Achieving the aforementioned moral excellences will allow engineers to conduct good judgments and commitment to their professional life.
Debate surrounding the question of citizenship, and the ensuing ideals about what makes a good life, has existed for as long as citizenship itself – providing many contrasting views and interpretations about the peak of human flourishing. Aristotle himself recognizes this fact, stating that “…there is often dispute about the citizen…since not everyone agrees that the same person is a citizen” (Politics 65). This is indicative, then, of the fact that there will be many different interpretations of human existence and its purpose; due to the fact that there is not even agreement on citizenry and what the ideas of it reflect for human life. The juxtaposition of two such views, those of Aristotle and Locke, allow thinkers to evaluate not only two
Aristotles starting point is with the highest good. It is the ultimate end goal. The highest human good is always worth pursuing in its own right. It is an activity that is an end in itself. This conception allows him to isolate two features of what he determines the ‘end goal’ or ‘final purpose’. The first, it being the most perfect or most complete good and the second, that it be self sufficient. This end is not a subjective object of desire. It also cannot be assumed that this human good is something which all humans pursue. Rather, it is what we should pursue and as such provides us with a standard that can normatively evaluate the good of human life. The human good is activity of the soul in accordance with [rational] virtue, and if there
Have you ever dreamed to live well? Or Did you know someone who has lived a good life? If so, how can you define a good life? According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, the good life can be defined as “a life marked by a high standard of Living. The good life can be defined as a way that someone plans to live virtuously by having a great education, enough money, and helping others. In other words, the good life means to me when life looks like a blessing than a burden. This essay aims to provide more than one answers about what makes people live a good life mean.