Duty or virtue

1837 Words4 Pages

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.

Open Document