Nicomachean Ethics And Aristotle's Theory Of Happiness

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In the Philosophical work, Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle makes claims about happiness being the highest aim and end at which all human activity is directed. He states that happiness is a supreme good, and therefore should be considered the ultimate goal of every action undertaken by an individual. This assertion regarding happiness as a final end, proposes the question, how can a person define and obtain happiness? Aristotle attempts to use his theory of ethics to address this question. His perspective on the supreme good, is that it is a way of life and exhibited in the way we act and that happiness is derived from living a life in accordance with virtues. In this paper I will address Aristotle’s deviance from popular belief regarding what …show more content…

In fact, I don’t reach happiness in regards to money until I am able to make a purchase or pay my dues, making money a stepping stone to my happiness instead of the ultimate end. As quoted by Aristotle, “Wealth is clearly not the good we are looking for, since it is useful and for the sake of something else” (Nicomachean Ethics, 390). My opinion regarding money not being happiness, coincides with a large portion of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, in which Aristotle refutes the common opinions of what happiness is, he contends that happiness is not equitable to pleasure, wealth or honor. These “identifications” of happiness are not considered to be the highest end of an action. In each of these situations that the masses define as happiness, has a greater good to be achieved, therefore making them not true happiness. Aristotle supports his argument by using the example of honor, he contests that an individual pursues honor, to be recognized and convinced they are good, “people seek to be honored…for excellence” (Nicomachean Ethics, 390). Excellence is of greater value in the process of seeking honor, showing that honor, like wealth, is not the ultimate goal of actions, meaning it cannot be equated to …show more content…

“A person who lives in accordance with intellectual excellence and excellences of character attains happiness and is moral” (Nicomachean Ethics, 386). The idea of intellectual excellence and excellence of character (moral virtue), can be derived from the representation of the divided soul. Intellectual excellence represents the portion of the soul that is rational, this part of the soul is responsible for understanding concepts, while excellence of character represents the appetites and desires aspect of the soul. Virtues of intellect can be acquired through education, making it easier to obtain than moral virtue. Moral virtue originates from the process of acting virtuously, it is the practice and subsequent habit of participating in virtuous actions. “…The intellectual sort mostly both comes into existence and increases as a result of teaching, whereas excellence of character results from habituation…” (Nicomachean Ethics, 393). In regards to anything, habits are formed through the constant repetition of an action. For example, ever since first semester freshman year I would reward myself with an iced coffee every time I went to the library. Now, four semesters later, I am in the habit of always going to Starbucks and getting an iced coffee when I walk into the library, my

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how aristotle uses his theory of ethics to address the question, how can a person define and obtain happiness?
  • Analyzes how aristotle refutes the common opinions of what happiness is, arguing that it is not equitable to pleasure, wealth or honor.
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