Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics Argument

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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…show more content…
Aristotle uses a “two step formula” to explore this concept. The first step is to isolate and determine what human’s distinctive function is. To explore human’s happiness, it is crucial to explore the manifestation of human nature. What makes humans humans? What are the distinctive activities and functions that we perform that brings us goodness and happiness? To explore what human’s function is, Aristotle proposes 3 options. Firstly, he mentions “life of nutrition and growth”, which is the function that even the plants share, involving only the basic life functions of living and growing. Secondly, he mentions the life of perception. Although this involves having emotions, desires, and higher functions of life, it is also shared with animals and not distinctive to humans. Finally, he reaches the conclusion that “the active life of the element has reason” (1098a2) is the most distinctive function of human beings. Our rationality and reason give us the ability to distinguish between good and bad, just and unjust, and to assess whether or not we are good people. It also gives us the capability to understand and perform higher intellectual activities. The three alternatives can also be said to be split into 2 categories, the rational part of the soul and the non-rational part of the soul. The life of growth and perception falls…show more content…
Since “any action is well performed when it is performed in accordance with the appropriate virtue”(1098a15), a good performance of function (which is a display of goodness) is virtuous. For example, a good lyre player is a virtuous player. In the previous part, he concludes that function of humans is rational activity, or the soul acting in accordance to reason. In humans’ case, a good performance of rational activity is thus a display of virtue. For example, as morality is a part of rationale, the good performance of morality can lead an individual towards a virtuous and good life. Thus, when human function is done well, it is in accordance with virtue and best human life is achieved. In addition, it can be inferred that since Aristotle’s definition of happiness is to be virtuous, performing rational activity well can lead to happiness. In addition, Aristotle states, “if there are more than one virtue, in accordance with the best and most complete” (1098a18). This means that eventually there will be one virtue that is inclusive of all virtue and that displays an end, and this virtue will be in line with the self-sufficient and inclusive concept of happiness as the chief good. If this inclusive virtue and good is achieved, ultimate happiness will be achieved as well. This all can be achieved by first examining the good performance of

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