True Happiness

916 Words4 Pages
According to Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, happiness is the ultimate end of humanity, as everything humans do is done in order to obtain it, and it is gained via the achievement of full excellence of the soul. Happiness is the greatest of all human good, because, as an end, it is an end unto itself, meaning that humans do not use it as a means to any other end. It is not conditional happiness that Aristotle lauds, but rather something that is more akin to the modern definition of joy. The practice of virtue, both intellectual and moral, is required to condition the soul into the state of ultimate excellence, and thus to obtain happiness. This is because the excellent soul is governed completely by its rational segment, as opposed to its irrational segment, and such governing is achieved only through the cultivating of virtue, both moral, which is habituated, and intellectual, which is learned, which by definition is excellence of the soul. To cultivate moral virtue, one must practice the mean of all emotions, that is, the version of each emotion that is neither in excess nor deficient, as well as the mean of virtuous characteristics, such as generosity.

Happiness is the ultimate function of man because it is the highest human good. Every action that humans perform is aimed at achieving an end. One goes to college to gain a degree. One gains a degree to get a good job. One works to earn money. Degrees, jobs, and money are but a few of the many ends that human actions aim to achieve. There is no action without purpose, or aim at an end, because even actions that seem frivolous are meant to achieve the end of satisfying the whim of the performer of the act. These ends are considered to be good, though some are better than othe...

... middle of paper ...

...e soul is in submission to the rational segment, then happiness is achieved.

Everything on the earth has a purpose, a niche to be filled, and so it is with man. Thus, as happiness is man’s greatest function, since it is the end to which all human actions are aimed and since it is uniquely human, it stands to reason that the only life worth living is that spent in correct pursuit of happiness. Such pursuit, or cultivation, is an activity of the human soul because happiness may only be achieved through the achievement of perfect virtue, which by its very definition is excellence of the soul. Happiness, therefore, is the realization of mankind’s purpose, the final and ultimate fulfillment of its function resulting in the contentment of the excellent soul.

Works Cited

Aristotle, and Martin Ostwald. Nichomachean Ethics,. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1980. Print.
Open Document