Aristotle's Concept of Happiness

1089 Words5 Pages
In the work, Nicomachean Ethics, the philosopher Aristotle creates a guideline for those who are serious about pursuing happiness. Aristotle's recommendations for finding happiness are not accepted today without some struggle and careful examination. In Aristotle's time, slaves, women and children were not truly considered human; so in many cases the philosopher is directing his words towards free males only. It is necessary to understand that by overlooking this discrimination and applying it to all people, one can discover the timeless wisdom of Aristotle. To begin, one must learn what happiness means to Aristotle. He considers happiness to be simply the name of the good life. This is not to say that the good life produces happiness, but that happiness is the title for the good life that is sought. Aristotle goes on to distinguish the good life as one which fulfills the purpose of a human being. This belief in part is derived from Aristotle's personal definition of good. In the 1990s, one would begin to explain good by calling it nothing more than a positive value. Aristotle's idea is one that involves action. For him, good is "that at which everything aims" (Cobb, Nicomachean Ethics, Book One). This view is considered a part of teleology, because it deals with the notion of goals or ends. Therefore, through Aristotle's definition of the word good, one can better understand why his view of the good life centers around the purpose of a human being. Aristotle examines the purpose of a human by drawing attention to the capacity for reason. Reasoning ability is the primary distinguishing characteristic between humans and other animals. Thus to be more exclusively human, one must exercise the capacity to think. Aristotl... ... middle of paper ... ...oper desire and motivation, but external circumstances do play a role. For example, if one decides that conversation is a worthy activity to engage in, living in isolation would not be conducive to the activity. External factors will indeed encourage happiness in some instances, and this must be accepted and taken into account. Aristotle's thoughts on the concept of happiness are little more than a step-by-step process. One must first know the definition of the good life, and then go about fulfilling the purpose of a human in the specific methods he has prescribed. Aristotle's views have been studied for at least two thousand years, and they will continue to be considered as long as humans continue in the search for happiness. Works Cited Cobb, William S., trans. Aristotle's Nicomachean and Eudemian Ethics. College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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