Aristotle's Theory of the Good Life

Better Essays
According to Aristotle, the good life is the happy life, as he believes happiness is an end in itself. In the Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle develops a theory of the good life, also known as eudaimonia, for humans. Eudaimonia is perhaps best translated as flourishing or living well and doing well. Therefore, when Aristotle addresses the good life as the happy life, he does not mean that the good life is simply one of feeling happy or amused. Rather, the good life for a person is the active life of functioning well in those ways that are essential and unique to humans. Aristotle invites the fact that if we have happiness, we do not need any other things making it an intrinsic value. In contrast, things such as money or power are extrinsic valuables as they are all means to an end. Usually, opinions vary as to the nature and conditions of happiness. Aristotle argues that although ‘pleasurable amusements’ satisfy his formal criteria for the good, since they are chosen for their own sake and are complete in themselves, nonetheless, they do not make up the good life since, “it would be absurd if our end were amusement, and we laboured and suffered all our lives for the sake of amusing ourselves.”
Happiness can be viewed as wealth, honour, pleasure, or virtue. Aristotle believes that wealth is not happiness, because wealth is just an economic value, but can be used to gain some happiness; wealth is a means to further ends. The good life, according to Aristotle, is an end in itself. Similar to wealth, honour is not happiness because honour emphases on the individuals who honour in comparison to the honouree. Honour is external, but happiness is not. It has to do with how people perceive one another; the good life is intrinsic to the...

... middle of paper ...

...that happiness is not found in amusement for it is too incongruous to end in amusement, and that our efforts and sufferings would be aimed at amusing ourselves. A flourishing life—a happy life, is one that consists of numerous requirements having been fulfilled to some degree. These include those things that preserve and maintain physical welfare such as, a certain level of material wellbeing, health, satisfaction, good familial and friendship bonds, and a comely appearance. Additionally, certain intellectual and moral needs ought to be met as well. It is a well-ordered and just state and community that preserves the freedom to have such a life. Thus, eudaimonia—happiness—for Aristotle is an inclusive notion consisting of life in accordance with intellectual and moral virtues, rational contemplation, and securing certain physical needs, such that one is flourishing.
Get Access