Analysis Of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics

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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’…show more content…
The great-souled man finds the mean If we are interested in practicing the virtues, is important to define virtuous conduct. Consider the vice that exists in both excess and deficiency. While bravery is a virtue of character, one can act with too much bravery, and be reckless, or too little bravery, and be cowardly. Virtuous conduct lies in finding the mean: “The manner one ought is both a mean and the best thing, which is what belongs to virtue” (29:1106b23-24). This principle lies at the heart of the great-souled man, the first of Aristotle’s peaks of humanly excellence. The great-souled man is chiefly concerned with—and strikes the mean with—external goods. The greatest of these goods is “the one that we assign to the gods, and at which people of high standing aim most of all, and which is the prize given for the most beautiful deeds; and of this kind is honor” (67:1123b19-21). A man who has achieved greatness of soul is deserving of great honors, but more importantly, he understands his own desert and acts appropriately. In Aristotle’s words, he “is one who considers himself worthy of great things, and is worthy of them” (66:1123b3-4). While this description may strike some as arrogant or self-important, in reality the great-souled man finds the appropriate mean and acts in accordance with virtue, “for he assesses himself in accord with his worth, while the others exceed or fall short of theirs” (67:1123b16-17). It is for this reason that Aristotle holds the great-souled…show more content…
This kind of self-lover would “give up money in a case in which his friends would get more money, since there would be money for the friend, but a beautiful act for himself, so that he distributes the greater good to himself” (174:1169a27-30). In a narrow sense, this person is acting out of self-love or selfishness. However, unlike the irrational self-lover, everyone “approves of and praises those who are exceptionally zealous about beautiful actions” (173:1169a7-8). Indeed, Aristotle writes that any “good person ought to be a lover of self, since he will both profit himself and benefit the others by performing beautiful actions” (173:1169a12-13). This is why Aristotle considers the self-lover to be another useful paradigm in exploring human

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