Essay on Happiness and Moral Value

962 Words Jan 19th, 2008 4 Pages
Happiness and Moral Virtue In Aristotle's Nicomachaen Ethics, the principle concern is the nature of human well-being. According to Aristotle, everything we do in life, we do for the sake of some good, or at least something perceived to be good (1094a1-3). When inquiring as to whether there is some good desired for its own sake, Aristotle envisioned a problem that either there is an infinite series of goods desired for the sake of something higher, in which case one's desires can never be satisfied, or there must be some highest good that is desired for its own sake and for which everything else is desired (1094a17-22). Then, according to Aristotle, the highest good must be final, it must be desired for its own sake and not for the …show more content…
Virtue is defined as a mean state between the extremes of excess and deficiency (1107a1-3). Virtue is the character to act in such a way as to lead a happy life. Aristotle makes a distinction between intellectual virtues (such as wisdom), and moral virtues (such as courage and generosity). Intellectual virtues are believed to be gained from education, as moral virtues are attained by habit (1106a10). The character that we eventually develop is a result of our upbringing, as parents need to shape the spirit of their offspring in such a way as to help them become virtuous adults. As Aristotle introduces an excellent theoretical framework for the nature of human well-being in Book I, specifically happiness, some flaws in interpretation do persist. One complaint about Aristotle's definition of happiness is that his argument is too general to show that it is in one's interest to posses any of the described virtues. Even if it is believed that doing anything well consists in using certain skills, called virtues, this does not allow one to infer that such qualities as courage or generosity are virtues. They should be counted as virtues only if it can be shown that acting upon these deeds is what happiness is comprised of. Aristotle must make an account as to why these skills play a central role in any well-lived life. In the beginning

Related Documents