Nicomachean Ethics

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In the book Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle uses his collection of lecture notes in order to establish the best way to live and acquire happiness. Aristotle says, “Virtue, then, is a state that decides consisting in a mean, the mean relative to us,.. .It is a mean between two vices, one of excess and one of deficiency.” The virtues that Aristotle speaks about in Nicomachean Ethics are: bravery, temperance, generosity, magnificence, magnanimity, and mildness. According to Aristotle, in order to live a happy life you must obtain these virtues and be morally good. Living a virtuous life is not an activity, but a predisposition. This means that you are genuinely inclined to act virtuously for the appropriate reasons. Magnanimity is the virtue of honor, or having regards for oneself. As with the other virtues, magnanimity has an excess and a deficiency. One who exaggerates their self- regard is vain, and the one who deprecates their self- regard is pusillanimous. A person who attains the virtue of magnanimity realizes that they are great and honorable, but does not take these feelings of honor too far by being too proud or boastful. The virtue of fear and confidence is bravery. Just like magnanimity, bravery also has an excess and a deficiency. The vice of excess for bravery is cowardice meaning that the person is too fearful, and the vice of deficiency is rashness meaning that the person is not fearful enough. With regards to the virtue of bravery, a person should do things for the sake of what is noble. In the Greek tragedy Antigone, a civil war is taking place in the city-state of Thebes. Two brothers, Polyneices and Eteocles, are killed in battle, one from each side of the war. Creon, the ruler of Thebes, says that Eteocl... ... middle of paper ... ...she did whatever it took to get done what she thought was needed. It didn’t matter that she was going to be sentenced to death, she said that she would rather die than see her brother disgraced. I guess I can sort of see where these people would be coming from because she was willing to put her own life on the line to do what she felt was right. However, coming from Aristotle’s definitions and standards, I feel like this belief would be incorrect. Keeping with Antigone’s fundamentals of a happy life, I believe that Antigone and Creon did not live fully happy lives. My reasoning behind this statement is: we have obviously seen that Antigone and Creon did not live morally virtuous lives. According to Aristotle’s definition of happiness, in order to be fully happy one must be morally virtuous. They are not morally virtuous, hence the fact, they are not fully happy.

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