The simple answer to what human good is that its end is happiness. Happiness is, however, much more complicated, as Aristotle argues, “there are various views as to what happiness is.” (Book I, Chap. IV). This happiness should not be mistaken, as it is defined in contemporary usage as a relative state characterized by the amount of pleasure received from something or liking to something. Happiness and pleasure are not synonymous terms, though obtaining happiness will probably lead to pleasure. Happiness instead is what Aristotle characterized as “activity of the soul according to virtue.” (Book I, Chapter VII)1. Virtue, like happiness, should not be conceptualized in its contemporary vernacular, as pertaining to be highly moralistic.
Aristotle’s definition of virtue in the Ethics is derived from the ancient Greek term “arête” that holds the connotations of excellence or mastery. For example, the virtue of a knife is its ability to slice or the virtue of exercise is how well it improves one’s fitness. What are required to determine the virtue of any of these aforesaid objects are the ends these objects and actions hope to obtain. We exercise to improve our health, we want to improve our health to feel better, be more energetic or simply look more attractive to others, and the ends may continue to progress until some final aim, for example with exercise, to live better lives. Man too has a certain arête or virtue, and since man is his or her own individualistic entity, their final ends may perhaps be different from other men and women. This is a major reason why the Ethics does not set out to determine what a person should or should not do.
If man has excellence, then what constitutes that excellence and how is it obtained? There must be must some action or series of actions man can do and perform with excellence that separates