Essay about Aristotle and John Stuart Mill on Happiness and Morality

1757 Words Apr 7th, 2013 8 Pages
Aristotle and John Stuart Mill on Happiness and Morality

In this paper I will argue that Aristotle’s conception of eudaimonia disproves Mill’s utilitarian view that pleasure is the “greatest good.” The purpose of this paper is to contrast Aristotle’s and Mills views on the value of happiness and its link to morality. First I will describe Aristotle’s model of eudaimonia. Then I will present Mill’s utilitarian views on happiness and morality. Lastly, I will provide a counterargument to Mill’s utilitarian ethical principles using the Aristotelian model of eudaimonia. In this section I will explain Aristotle’s definition of eudaimonia and its relationship to happiness, morality and the virtues. Aristotle defines eudaimonia in the
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Mill would also disagree with Aristotle’s argument that it is determined whether or not someone led a eudaimonistic life only after this person has died. Mill essentially believes in concrete happiness and believes that people should be happy while they are alive. Mill states that pleasures are parts of our happiness and not an “abstract” means as Aristotle puts it. In this third section I will provide a counterargument to Mill’s utilitarian ethical principles using the Aristotelian model of eudaimonia. I firstly disagree with Mill’s idea that happiness is equated with pursuing acts that only lead to pleasure and avoiding those that decrease pleasure. I side completely with Aristotle in that he believes that the purpose of pleasures is to serve as side product of activity to perfect our activities. For example, for a mathematician to become an excellent mathematician he must become very talented in doing mathematical activities but also must have the pleasure in doing this activity. I also side with him on his statement in Book Ten of the Nicomachean Ethics certain pleasures such as those of touch “can lead us to become servile and brutish” and says that “it attaches to us not in so far as we are men but in so far as we are animals.” For example those who eat food to the excess have slavish characters because they are choosing to eat past their bodily intake

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