Aristotle happiness and the human good

Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Aristotle on Ethics. Intellectual Virtues Since Aristotle often calls attention to the imprecision of ethical theory see e. These translations may avoid some of the misleading associations carried by "happiness" although each tends to raise some problems of its own.

Aristotle explains what each of these states of mind is, draws various contrasts among them, and takes up various questions that can be raised about their usefulness. And since each enjoys the trust and companionship of the other, there is considerable pleasure in these relationships as well.

If, for example, one is trying to decide how much to spend on a wedding present, one is looking for an amount that is neither excessive nor deficient. Perhaps a greater difficulty can be raised if we ask how Aristotle determines which emotions are governed by the doctrine of the mean.

If we look at nature, we notice that there are four different kinds of things that exist in the world, each one defined by a different purpose: Summary Happiness is the highest good and the end at which all our activities ultimately aim.

Defective states of character are hexeis plural of hexis as well, but they are tendencies to have inappropriate feelings. So the general explanation for the occurrence of akrasia cannot be that the strength of a passion overwhelms reason.

But Aristotle gives pride of place to the appetite for pleasure as the passion that undermines reason. The really difficult question is to specify just what sort of activities enable one to live well.

Although he says that the names of these emotions and actions convey their wrongness, he should not be taken to mean that their wrongness derives from linguistic usage. But if practical reasoning is correct only if it begins from a correct premise, what is it that insures the correctness of its starting point?


Being of "great soul" magnanimitythe virtue where someone Aristotle happiness and the human good be truly deserving of the highest praise and have a correct attitude towards the honor this may involve. The wise person will be more than human. We seek a deeper understanding of the objects of our childhood enthusiasms, and we must systematize our goals so that as adults we have a coherent plan of life.

Eudemian Ethicsoften abbreviated as the EE. The mean is relative to the individual and circumstances. In the Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle says explicitly that one must begin with what is familiar to us, and "the that" or "the fact that" NE I.

And even Epicurus who argues that the eudaimon life is the life of pleasure maintains that the life of pleasure coincides with the life of virtue.

We must experience these activities not as burdensome constraints, but as noble, worthwhile, and enjoyable in themselves. Ascribing eudaimonia to a person, then, may include ascribing such things as being virtuous, being loved and having good friends.

And surely the reason why pleasure is not the criterion to which we should look in making these decisions is that it is not the good.

The differences among virtues will mirror the differences among the various passions and among the various functions of reason. Consider the following syllogism: As he laments, "the mass of mankind are evidently quite slavish in their tastes, preferring a life suitable to beasts" Nicomachean Ethics, b In the Nicomachean Ethics, does Aristotle trace out a method whereby human beings can change their character?

Aristotle might be taken to reply: Humans are distinct above all for having also a rational soul, which governs thought. Rationality is our distinctive activity, that is, the activity that distinguishes us from plants and animals.

Her primary charge in the article is that, as secular approaches to moral theory, they are without foundation. For instance, how much is luck or fortune involved in our attainment of virtue?

Aristotle's Ethics

For the former think it is some plain and obvious thing like pleasure, wealth or honour… [a17] [5] So, as Aristotle points out, saying that eudaimon life is a life which is objectively desirable, and means living well, is not saying very much.

A Some agents, having reached a decision about what to do on a particular occasion, experience some counter-pressure brought on by an appetite for pleasure, or anger, or some other emotion; and this countervailing influence is not completely under the control of reason.

For Aristotle, such justice is proportional—it has to do with people receiving what is proportional to their merit or their worth. It tells the individual that the good of others has, in itself, no valid claim on him, but that he should serve other members of the community only to the extent that he can connect their interests to his own.

Plants and non-human animals seek to reproduce themselves because that is their way of participating in an unending series, and this is the closest they can come to the ceaseless thinking of the unmoved mover. A impetuosity caused by pleasure, B impetuosity caused by anger, C weakness caused by pleasure D weakness caused by anger.

He was the first to devise a formal system for reasoning, whereby the validity of an argument is determined by its structure rather than its content. And is life worth living for us with that part of us corrupted that unjust action harms and just action benefits? A person that does this is the happiest because they are fulfilling their purpose or nature as found in the rational soul.

Aristotelian ethics

Suppose we grant, at least for the sake of argument, that doing anything well, including living well, consists in exercising certain skills; and let us call these skills, whatever they turn out to be, virtues.

But what is not inevitable is that our early experience will be rich enough to provide an adequate basis for worthwhile ethical reflection; that is why we need to have been brought up well.Like Plato and Socrates he emphasized the importance of reason for human happiness, The Aristotelian Ethics all aim to begin with approximate but uncontroversial starting points.

Reason and Human Good in Aristotle. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, which equates the ultimate end of human life with happiness (eudaimonia), is thought by many readers to argue that this highest goal consists in the largest possible aggregate of intrinsic goods.

Richard Kraut proposes instead that Aristotle identifies happiness with only one type of good: excellent activity of the rational soul. In Aristotle's works, eudaimonia (based on older Greek tradition) was used as the term for the highest human good, and so it is the aim of practical philosophy, including ethics and political philosophy, to consider (and also experience) what it really is, and how it can be achieved.

Happiness is the highest good and the end at which all our activities ultimately aim. A virtuous person is someone who performs the distinctive activity of being human well. Rationality is our distinctive activity, that is, the activity that distinguishes us from plants and animals.

its exercise is the supreme good. Aristotle defines. Aristotle and the Highest Good. the highest good is a solitary nucleus, which all other goods are acted upon for; for Aristotle this highest good is happiness or eudaimonia (which translates to living well).

combining both physical and emotional aspects of the human being together while happiness is merely an idea pursued by the. In Ethics, Aristotle argues the highest end is the human good, and claims that the highest end pursued in action is happiness. Aristotle also claims that happiness is achieved only by living a virtuous life - "our definition is in harmony with those who say that happiness is virtue, or a particular virtue; because an activity in accordance with virtue implies virtue.

Aristotle happiness and the human good
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