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Recipe for Happiness in Aristotle's The Nicomachean Ethics

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Aristotle, the author of The Nicomachean Ethics, attempts to explain the aim of human beings by using an empirical approach. In other words, he makes an effort to use scientific observations of the physical world to explain why humans act a certain way to reach the goal of happiness. Their specific action, or unique function as Aristotle says, is the using of reason. This reason seems to be part of every human being and according to Aristotle, if it is used well, then we will achieve happiness. Aristotle seems to believe that using this reasoning correctly, will involve humans going out into society to learn about the virtues. The virtues, like courage, do not come already prepackaged in the correct amount humans need. Humans have to find out how much courage they need and they do this by using their reason. They have to go out into society, use their reasoning correctly, determine the correct amount of virtue, and by performing this function correctly, they can aim at the true good which is happiness. This empirical approach affects Aristotle’s theory because it tries to outline the balanced character of humans with the virtues. Since humans do not know how much of the virtue they really need, they have to physically go out into the world and observe to find out.
Aristotle’s approach in The Nicomachean Ethics seemed to say that virtues can become regular habits that each human being performs and if performed well can lead to happiness. However, he says that we are not born with these virtues so we have to learn them. Aristotle seemed to observe people using the word virtue to name a person’s action which they did correctly. According to Aristotle, a human must perform actions in society to determine if they are finding the co...

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... have healthy bodies to live and with the correct amount of virtues, we can have a balanced character to achieve happiness. If we do not have the right amount of either one, our goal of happiness remains out of reach.
Aristotle in a way creates a recipe for happiness because our tool is reasoning and the ingredients are virtues. Since he did not write down a cup of courage or a pinch of patience, humans need to find out themselves how much of the virtues to add. Once all of the virtues are added in correctly, then the individual will have a balanced character. In the end the goal of happiness can be reached by the individual who has a balanced character.

Works Cited

Aristotle. The Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle. Morality and the Good Life: An Introduction to Ethics through Classical Sources. Eds. Robert C. Solomon, et al. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2009. 108-147.
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