Aristotle And Epictetus's Approach To Happiness

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The ethical theories of both Aristotle and Epictetus, laid out in their books the Nicomachean Ethics and the Enchiridion, respectively, offer humanity insight into the most effective ways to achieve happiness and to exhibit virtue. Aristotle’s approach to happiness is that it must be looked at as the end to a means not as a means to an end. He feels that happiness should be viewed as the highest good within life. Although Epictetus agrees that happiness is the highest attainable good, he believes that the source of humanity’s misery is people’s inability to differentiate between what they can control and what they cannot. While both philosopher’s theories emphasize the importance of happiness and virtue in a person’s life, Epictetus’ view …show more content…
Although they both stress that the choices that a person makes within his/her life ultimately decide how that person’s life will play out, Epictetus’s approach seems to be more easily attainable. When it comes to both Aristotle’s and Epictetus’ ethical theories in regards to happiness, it appears as if Aristotle’s is met with many more requirements than Epictetus’ which makes it appear more complicated to achieve. One of the main points that Aristotle stresses within the Nicomachean Ethics is that happiness requires an entire lifetime before it can be fully experienced by a person. Even though happiness should be the end goal of a person’s decisions, rather than a means to another end, it seems unrealistic to think that happiness can only be perceived as being granted to a person once their life is finished, as Aristotle is implying. Instead, Epictetus’ theory emphasizes the belief that happiness and virtue stem from how a person reacts to certain situations and that ultimately they have a choice of whether or not they want to make decisions that will lead to happiness. This theory implies the fact that happiness can be achieved through multiple aspects of life and that each new situation has the opportunity to either enhance or diminish a person’s happiness levels rather than Aristotle’s view that happiness either exists or it doesn’t. Epictetus stresses that things in the world do not have the power to disturb humanity but rather the judgements that are placed on these things do. Happiness mainly stems from how easily people can recognize what is under their control as well as how they react to situations that they can encounter. Unlike Aristotle’s theory, Epictetus’ view on happiness seems to be one that most people can easily attain happiness as the highest good with. This is because Epictetus is correct in his statement

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