Happiness is defined as a “state of being happy”. This concept of happiness seems rather simple to the ordinary person. According to Aristotle and Immanuel Kant, happiness is not merely a state. In fact, there is a lot more substance within the dimension of happiness that one must acquire and comprehend to achieve. While Aristotle defines happiness as the final end and self sufficient (8), Kant does not. Instead, Kant emphasizes the kingdom of ends, in which all are subject to the categorical imperative as rational autonomous beings with the intention of universalizing one’s maxim, not happiness. This paper will explore Aristotle’s definition of happiness in comparison to Kant’s. According to Aristotle and his book Nicomachean Ethics, the end of life’s aim (telos) is happiness. By “happiness”, Aristotle means eudaimonia-- a contented state of prosperity, well being and an ultimate end (8). It allows one to flourish. Eudaimonia is ultimately what we want from life, and is an activity that is developed over time. In order to have eudaimonia, we must activate our soul (logos). In book 1, “Aristotle makes it clear from the beginning that actions chosen for their own sakes are among the things chosen for the sake of some end, and hence (as he will go on to argue) for the sake of some ultimate end” (172). He believes that virtue is a small step that ultimately ends in one’s happiness. Virtues are instrumental ends because they are links in the chain that one takes for the sake of achieving happiness. He believes that virtues are good because they are done for their own sake, but in a secondary way to the ultimate goal of happiness. Also, Aristotle believes that one will acquire happiness through living and being active. In our soul, we... ... middle of paper ... ...s to reaching the ultimate end. I agree with Aristotle that determining what is right and wrong is relative to each person. Therefore, the mean is also relative to each person. I do not believe that by simply evaluating what will produce the greatest good or happiness one will be able to determine what is morally right. As Aristotle states, “going wrong is easy, and going right difficult; it is easy to miss the bull’s eye and difficult to hit it” (483). Here, Aristotle holds that it is easier to choose the wrong action rather than choose the right action. I agree with his viewpoint because there is much more possibility to move away from the mean than there is to move closer to it. I think that by observing the Doctrine of the Mean, one will be able to develop good character and in return good virtues, which will result in our ultimate triumph- happiness.
Aristotle accepts that there is an agreement that this chief good is happiness, but that there is a disagreement with the definition of happiness. Due to this argument, men divide the good into the three prominent types of life: pleasure, political and contemplative. Most men are transfixed by pleasure; a life suitable for “beasts”. The elitist life (politics) distinguishes happiness as honour, yet this is absurd given that honour is awarded from the outside, and one’s happiness comes from one’s self. The attractive life of money-making is quickly ruled out by Aristotle since wealth is not the good man seeks, since it is only useful for the happiness of something else.
Simply defined, happiness is the state of being happy. But, what exactly does it mean to “be happy?” Repeatedly, many philosophers and ideologists have proposed ideas about what happiness means and how one attains happiness. In this paper, I will argue that Aristotle’s conception of happiness is driven more in the eye of ethics than John Stuart Mill. First, looking at Mill’s unprincipled version of happiness, I will criticize the imperfections of his definition in relation to ethics. Next, I plan to identify Aristotle’s core values for happiness. According to Aristotle, happiness comes from virtue, whereas Mill believes happiness comes from pleasure and the absence of pain. Ethics are the moral principles that govern a person’s behavior which are driven by virtues - good traits of character. Thus, Aristotle focuses on three things, which I will outline in order to answer the question, “what does it mean to live a good life?” The first of which is the number one good in life is happiness. Secondly, there is a difference between moral virtues and intellectual virtues and lastly, leading a good life is a state of character. Personally and widely accepted, happiness is believed to be a true defining factor on leading a well intentioned, rational, and satisfactory life. However, it is important to note the ways in which one achieves their happiness, through the people and experiences to reach that state of being. In consequence, Aristotle’s focus on happiness presents a more arguable notion of “good character” and “rational.”
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).
In Book I of Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle states that the ultimate human goal or end is happiness. Aristotle then describes steps required for humans to obtain the ultimate happiness. He also states that activity is an important requirement of happiness. A virtuous person takes pleasure in doing virtuous things. He then goes on to say that living a life of virtue is something pleasurable in itself. The role of virtue to Aristotle is an important one, with out it, it seems humans cannot obtain happiness. Virtue is the connection one has to happiness and how they should obtain it. My goal in this paper is to connect Aristotle’s book of Nicomachean Ethics to my own reasoning of self-ethics. I strongly agree with Aristotle’s goal of happiness and conclude to his idea of virtues, which are virtuous states of character that affect our decision making in life.
To start, according to Aristotle, the end of every action aims at a good (1094a1-10). He goes on to say that the highest good is the most complete, that it is good in itself and is not chosen to gain something else. Aristotle believes that the highest good that every action aims for is happiness, because it is self-sufficient (1097b1-10). For example, why does a person want a high paying job? So they can earn money. Why does a person want money? So they can get things. Why does a person want to get things? So they can become happy, or believe that it would give them happiness. Aristotle comes to this conclusion by taking into account the opinions of people, realizing that almost everyone is trying to obtain happiness (1095a10-20). In addition, Aristotle believes the means for achieving happiness are through the excellence of one's being. The term Aristotle uses here is aretê, or virtue. Essentially, virtue is the excellence of something, in this case moral action (1095b20-30). Virtue leads to happiness because it "seems to be more durable even than the kinds of knowledge" (1100b10-20). Earlier, Aristotle came to the conclusion that happiness is something that is not changed easily. If ...
Aristotle begins his ethical account by saying that “every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and every choice, is thought to aim for some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim” (line 1094a1). Though some things might produce higher good than others, Aristotle looks for the highest good, which he says we must “desire for its own sake” and our actions are not decided on some other goal beyond this good itself (line 1094a20-25). This highest good is then realized to be happiness (line 1095a16-20).
It was Aristotle’s belief that everything, including humans, had a telos or goal in life. The end result or goal was said to be happiness or “eudaimonia”. He explained that eudaimonia was different for each person, and that each had a different idea of what it meant. Further, he said that people must do things in moderation, but at the same time do enough. The theory, of “the golden mean of moderation” was the basis to Aristotle's idea of the human telos and concluded that living a virtuous life must be the same for all people. Aristotle maintained that the natural human goal to be happy could only be achieved once each individual determined his/her goal. A person’s telos is would usually be what that individual alone can do best. Aristotle described the humans as "rational animals" whose telos was to reason. Accordingly, Aristotle thought that in order for humans to be happy, they would have to be able to reason, and to be governed by reason. If a person had difficulty behaving morally or with ethics, he was thought to be “imperfect”. Moral virtue, a principle of happiness, was the ability to evade extremes in behavior and further to find the mean between it and adequacy. Aristotle’s idea of an ideal state was one where the populous was able to practice eth...
In Book I of Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle states that the ultimate human goal or end is happiness. Aristotle describes the steps required for humans to obtain happiness. Aristotle states that activity is an important requirement of happiness. He states that a happy person cannot be inactive. He then goes on to say that living a life of virtue is something pleasurable in itself. The virtuous person takes pleasure in doing virtuous things. The role of virtue is an important one for Aristotle. Without virtue, it seems one cannot obtain happiness. Virtue acts as a linking factor to happiness.
One of Aristotle’s conclusions in the first book of Nicomachean Ethics is that “human good turns out to be the soul’s activity that expresses virtue”(EN 1.7.1098a17). This conclusion can be explicated with Aristotle’s definitions and reasonings concerning good, activity of soul, and excellence through virtue; all with respect to happiness.
The pursuit for happiness has been a quest for man throughout the ages. In his ethics, Aristotle argues that happiness is the only thing that the rational man desires for its own sake, thus, making it good and natural. Although he lists three types of life for man, enjoyment, statesman, and contemplative, it is the philosopher whom is happiest of all due to his understanding and appreciation of reason. Aristotle’s version of happiness is not perceived to include wealth, honor, or trivial
Aristotle feels we have a rational capacity and the exercising of this capacity is the perfecting of our natures as human beings. For this reason, pleasure alone cannot establish human happiness, for pleasure is what animals seek and human beings have higher capacities than animals. The goal is to express our desires in ways that are appropriate to our natures as rational animals. Aristotle states that the most important factor in the effort to achieve happiness is to have a good moral character, what he calls complete virtue. In order to achieve the life of complete virtue, we need to make the right choices, and this involves keeping our eye on the future, on the ultimate result we want for our lives as a whole. We will not achieve happiness simply by enjoying the pleasures of the moment. We must live righteous and include behaviors in our life that help us do what is right and avoid what is wrong. It is not enough to think about doing the right thing, or even intend to do the right thing, we have to actually do it. Happiness can occupy the place of the chief good for which humanity should aim. To be an ultimate end, an act must be independent of any outside help in satisfying one’s needs and final, that which is always desirable in itself and never for the sake of something else and it must be
In Nichomachean Ethics Aristotle explores the most important question that we humans can ask; what is the best way of living our lives? Throughout this book he establishes logical arguments and supports them to attempt to prove that happiness is the ultimate goal in life and that everything we do pursues it. He begins his argument by stating that everything that we do in everyday life we do because we believe that it is fundamentally good. Aristotle makes the observation that while we pursue that which is good, the way that we pursue it differs greatly. There are so many actions and things which we can do while pursuing what we believe is good that it is illogical to believe that one of these actions is the ultimate end. Aristotle states "An end pursued in its own right is more complete than an end pursued because of something else, and that an end that is never choiceworthy because of something else is more complete than the ends that are both in their own right and because of this end" (Nichomachean Ethics, 134). What exactly does this statement mean and how does it tie into Aristotle's grand scheme of leading the best lifestyle of happiness?
Aristotle describes three types of life in his search for human flourishing: lives of gratification, politics, and contemplation. He contends that there is a single Idea of Good that all men seek, and he finds that happiness, or eudaimonia, best fits his criteria. Aristotle investigates the human purpose to find how happiness is best achieved, and finds that a life of activity and contemplation satisfies our purpose, achieving the most complete happiness in us. Aristotle is correct regarding the necessity of activity, but restricts the theory to only the life of study. We will reject this restriction, and instead allow any life of virtue and productivity to substitute for Aristotle’s life of study. One primary means of remaining active to achieve happiness includes loving friendships, which only happen to the virtuous. Thus human flourishing is living a life of virtue, activity, and productivity.
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...