Happiness In Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics

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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 …show more content…

In his more specific discourse on the nature of happiness, Aristotle comes to the conclusion that happiness lies in the contemplative life because “contemplation is the highest form of activity” (Aristotle 268). Aristotle views the activities of the mind to be the most sophisticated element of human life, and thus he believes the greatest good must come from the greatest aspect of life. In this view of happiness, Aristotle assumes that “happiness is an activity in accordance with virtue,” and that in order to live the contemplative life, one must also live a morally virtuous life (Aristotle 270). This connection between morality and contemplation coincides with Aristotle’s view of the superiority of contemplation over all other human activities. Aristotle asserts that contemplation in and of itself is separate from virtue, but that “in so far as he is a human being and a member of society [the contemplative man] chooses to act in accordance with virtue” (Aristotle 274). While there is much scholarly debate over the exact relationship between morally virtuous activity and contemplation, there is a sense of agreement that “a commitment to contemplative activity is a necessary feature of moral activity,” and thus contemplation is the “end of morally virtuous activity” (Bush 54). Essentially, the purpose of a virtuous activity is to achieve contemplation, which is happiness. As Aristotelian happiness is achieved by choosing to live a contemplative life and through contemplation itself, it is much different from the more materialistic 21st-century view of

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