Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle

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Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle

In his book Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle seeks to define the guidelines for human beings to achieve happiness as a community. Happiness is something that human beings must constantly work for and not a state that can just exist forever without struggle. Aristotle believes that the only possible way for a society as a whole to be happy is through the study of political science.

In Book I, Chapter 1, Aristotle declares that all human life consists of activity. He further claims that human beings engage in these activities to arrive at some end. We perceive this end to be good because otherwise we would not partake in the endeavor. Aristotle maintains that there are two types of ends: an end in itself and an end that is subordinate to some other activity. An end in itself, the most complete end, is considered to be better than a subordinate end. Aristotle then declares that the most complete end that all activity aims at is happiness, although most people disagree about what exactly happiness is.

In the next chapter, Aristotle defines political science as the science that rules over all of the other sciences. He believes that political science dictates what sciences people should study within a city and who is capable of studying them. For example, he states that the young and immature person is incapable of studying politics due to a lack of experience. Because political science is concerned with the welfare of a community, it is the science that studies human happiness.

Through the natural thought progression, one can deduce that political science is concerned with the highest good of human beings. If happiness is the highest good and the aim of politics is to make everyone happy, then political science is the science that studies the highest good for all human beings. All sciences aim at a subordinate end that will eventually contribute to the happiness of a community. For example, the end of medicine is to make people healthy; however, this is not a complete end.
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