Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics: Happiness

1043 Words5 Pages
From pursuing pleasure to avoiding pain, life seems to ultimately be about achieving happiness. However, how to define and obtain happiness has and continues to be a widely debated issue. In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle gives his view on happiness. Aristotle focuses particularly on how reason, our rational capacity, should help us recognize and pursue what will lead to happiness and the good life.';(Cooley and Powell, 459) He refers to the soul as a part of the human body and what its role is in pursuing true happiness and reaching a desirable end. Aristotle defines good'; as that which everything aims.(Aristotle, 459) Humans have an insatiable need to achieve goodness and eventual happiness. Sometimes the end that people aim for is the activity they perform, and other times the end is something we attempt to achieve by means of that activity. Aristotle claims that there must be some end since everything cannot be means to something else.(Aristotle, 460) In this case, there would be nothing we would try to ultimately achieve and everything would be pointless. An ultimate end exists so that what we aim to achieve is attainable. Some people believe that the highest end is material and obvious (when a person is sick they seek health, and a poor person searches for wealth). Most people think that the highest end is a life of pleasure. Hedonists have defined happiness as " an equivalent to the totality of pleasurable or agreeable feeling.';(Fox, 3) Some pleasures are good and contribute to happiness. Not all ends are ultimate ends but the highest end would have to be something ultimate; the only conceivable ultimate end is happiness. Happiness is perhaps the only clear ultimate end. Happiness is what we strive for by itself and not to get anything else. "So it appears that happiness is the ultimate end and completely sufficient by itself. It is the end we seek in all we do.';(Aristotle, 461) Mans' good is related to his purpose; the purpose of a man involves the actions of his soul (the soul being a part of his reasoning). By carrying out the activities of his soul and doing so with proper excellence and virtue, man is able to reach a desirable end. Virtue, then deals with those feelings and actions in which it is wrong to go too far and wrong to fall too short but in which hitting the mean is praiseworthy and good….
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