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Aristotle's Concept of Happiness - Essay Example

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Name Philosophy 25 May 2012 Aristotle’s Concept of Happiness People have different opinions of the best, happiest and most worthwhile kind of life for human beings. Happiness in life tends to be measured in terms of honorable achievements and pleasures and excitements of service to the community, material productiveness, luxury, happy personal relationships and other factors but an agreement on the principal factor to measure happiness and what is best for human beings is necessary (Broadie 3)…
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Aristotles Concept of Happiness
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Aristotle's Concept of Happiness

Aristotle uses Nicomachean Ethics in his theory of happiness to defend the view he takes on happiness. He begins by creating a big illusion that all things aim at some good. By saying that all things aim at some good, Aristotle means that everything has some aim or end to be achieved and the restricted good which every activity intends to achieve actuates the nature of that activity. Aristotle gives an example of health and the practice of medicine, the main aim of medical science is to attain health for everyone and health is in itself a good. Therefore the aim of medical science is good. Activities carried out in the real world achieve something desirable otherwise they would not be practiced. According to Aristotle, activities are hierarchically related to other activities and ends to ends (Broadie 11). Some ends are therefore subordinate to others. Hedonists and non-hedonists would disagree on what is subordinate to what between virtue and pleasure. Aristotle’s approach focuses on subordination-relations to cover individuals with different ethical attitudes. Subordination-relations are apparent to all who appreciate how diverse activities in a society are organized and the fact that all these activities aim at some common good. Aristotle argues that some end is ultimate for an activity and concludes that the ultimate is the good and the best but some activities may lead to others or each to various ultimate ends. Broadie states that “what is ultimate is not uniquely supreme, but it seems logically and ethically harmless, there could be conflict not resoluble by argument since it might not always be possible to act for the sake of one end without passing up an opportunity to act for the sake of another” (14). Since realistic people can avoid having different ends becoming adversaries’, anarchy or imposition of unreasonable decisions can also be avoided. Aristotle argues that knowing if there is a best should come before deciding what is the best. For him identifying a knowledge or skill first cultivates a good identification of the object or end. As far as ethics is concerned, the good is happiness. Despite the fact that everyone is mainly concerned for his own happiness, Nicomachean ethics does not ascertain or presume that a person can or should seek only his own good. It rather concentrates on activities and crafts in general. Aristotle argues that to form good decisions and carry them out, individuals need to understand impulse and not just apply philosophical ethics. “Lectures on ethics cannot act up for moral discipline.” (Broadie 20). It is not just enough to believe in theory; practicing things believed is a sure way of making progress. There is need to desire and act in congruence to reason. Reason does not just refer to philosophical light gained through studying ethics but rather to a progressive pursuit of the good life. According to Broadie, the pursuit is realistic not just for being established from an understanding of principles but because a good life is the kind of good that can only be achieved if individuals place some desires as secondary to others (21). This gives an individual a sound mind to choose what to do and discard what he may have felt like doing. In ... Read More
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