Compare and Contrast Plato and Aristotle on Well-Being Essay

6153 Words Dec 20th, 2010 25 Pages
Compare and contrast Plato and Aristotle on well-being.

Well-Being: The state of being healthy happy or prosperous.
It seems obvious to suggest that the goal we all are aiming at is total happiness; total success and fulfillment. In the Nichomachean ethics, Aristotles' main aim is to provide a description of what this so-called happiness actually is, and how we can go about our day to day lives in order to achieve the best life that we possibly can. He begins book one with what philosophers call a 'Teleological conception of life'. That is, everything we do is aiming at some end: 'every art and every investigation, and similarly every action and pursuit, is considered to aim at some good. Hence the good has been rightly defined as
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So, if our function as humans' is to live in a particular manner, to reason, then, surely, Aristotle must be at least partly correct in suggesting that we ought to perform our function in accordance with rationality, and in accordance with its' activity-specific excellences. In NE 1.7, Aristotle divides the soul into several parts. He says that both humans and animals have a soul, but that they are different in the following ways: The human soul has form and is capable of rationality. The rational soul is further divided into scientific reasoning- which involves neccesary truths, and calculative reasoning- which involves contingent truths. Animals are not rational creatures, but they do have substance, and a soul with substance is concerned with instinct, nutrition and growth. We are therefore distinct and superior to animals and plants for our capacity to reason. Aristotle argues that '..we are looking for mans proper function; so we must exclude from our definition the life that consists in nutrition and growth..There remains then, a practical life of rational part' (1.7.1098a). As I mentioned earlier, Aristotle also makes it clear that it is not enough to possess the ability to reason, we must perform our life-faculties, which are our function, and to perform them

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