Agustle Virtue Analysis

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Contrary to Aristotle’s view that supreme happiness is related to earthly living, Augustine argues that supreme happiness is not truly found until one seeks eternal life with God. While both mostly agree on the definitions of the virtues, differences arise when one looks at their views on the ends that those virtues should be directed towards. In this essay, I will discuss both Aristotle and Augustine’s ideas of virtues and what each thinks humans should do in order to truly find and achieve the supreme good of happiness. In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle lays a foundation of goods and supreme goods. “Every art”, he says, “and every inquiry, and similarly every action and pursuit, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared” (Aristotle, 46). The chief good is that “which we desire for its own sake” (Aristotle, 47). The chief good for humans is happiness, which people equate with many different things. The reason why happiness is the chief good is because it is sufficient in itself. Aristotle says “the general run of men…identify living well and doing well with being happy” (Aristotle 48). For example, it is thought that if one is happy with their job, they are more inclined to do a good job because they are content. As Aristotle continues on he defines the supreme good in yet another way, saying, “…Human good turns out to be activity of soul in accordance with virtue” (Aristotle, 55). For Aristotle, a rational human being is also a happy and virtuous one as well. Rationality distinguishes humans from animals. At this point, it is suggested that one’s life can only be examined as a whole and not as he or she lives. “One swallow does not make a summer, nor does one day”, says A... ... middle of paper ... ... two ways, and some must be good in themselves, the others by reason of these. Let us separate, then, things good in themselves from things useful” (Aristotle, 52). Aristotle has multiple ways in which he looks at good and goodness, so a single form theory disagrees with Aristotle’s fundamentals of virtue. Despite these differences between the two writers, neither theory really proves to be right or wrong. Christians tend to side with Augustine and his views, but there is no real absolute here. There are those who say that they try to be good, rational and virtuous within themselves in their earthly life to garner a spot in heaven, and there are those who live according to what they feel God wants them to do. Regardless of their many differences, however, Aristotle and Augustine both prove to us with that there is more than one right way to live a virtuous life.

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