The Nicomachean Ethics, written by Aristotle, represents his most important contribution within the field of Ethics; it is a collection of ten books, covering a variety of interesting topics, throughout the collection.
Aristotle tries to draw a general understanding of the human good, exploring the causes of human actions, trying to identify the most common ultimate purpose of human actions. Indeed, Aristotelian’s ethics, also investigates through the psychological and the spiritual realms of human beings.
Without pretending to exhaust with too many references, it would be rather useful to focus on the most criticized part of the philosopher’s attempt, which is also the very starting point of his masterpiece, identified as eudaimonia (happiness, well being) and ergon (function), in Aristotelian terms.
The meaning of eudaimonia, etymologically, is ‘good spirit’ and it is generally translated as ‘happiness’; in Aristotelian terms, ‘happiness’ represents the highest human good and it is also the representation of the soul’s virtues.
The identification of the soul parts as the contributors and main elements for the function of the most important human activity (reasoning), marks the inevitable psychological asset of Aristotle’s thinking; specifically, the classification of human virtues derives from the analysis of the soul’s types, attributing to human beings the ability of reasoning which distinguishes human beings from the rest of ‘natural bodies.’ Indeed, reason exists in two parts of the soul, namely the rational and the appetitive (desires or passions), and so it expresses within two different virtues, the moral and intellectual ones. Moral virtues satisfy the impulses of the appetitive part and the intellectual virtues hav...
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Kraut, R., (2014). Aristotle’s Ethics. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.) Available online at URL
Grant, S., (2007). A defence of Aristotle on the good life. Richmond Journal of Philosophy (16) p. 1-8.
Hesse, H., (1930, 1957) Narcissus and Goldmund. Montagnola, Picador, New York.
Korsgaadar, C.M., (1986). Aristotle on Function and Virtue. History of Philosophy Quarterly, 3 (3), p. 259-279.
Nagel, T., (1972). Aristotle on Eudaimonia. Phronesis, Vol. 17, No. 3, p. 252-259.
Urmson, J.O., (1988). Aristotle’s Ethics (Blackwell), ch.1.
Wilkes, K.V., (1978). The Good Man and the Good for Man in Aristotle’s Ethics. Mind 87; repr. in A. O. Rorty, ed., Essays on Aristotle’s Ethics (Berkeley, 1980).
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