Limitations Of Happiness In Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics

1542 Words 7 Pages
Aristotle’s work, Nicomachean Ethics, has influenced modern philosophy as it is considered by many philosophers to be the quintessential collection of ethical theories. Within this work, Aristotle discusses ethical questions pertaining to happiness, the Greek term known as Eudaimonia. Throughout Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle presents his argument on conceptions and conceptual restrictions of happiness. The main three conceptions, life of gratification, a political life, and life of contemplation, are all outlined by Aristotle; ultimately, he restricts his notion by stating that happiness resides only in life of contemplation. Coupled with his restrictions of happiness, Aristotle defines his notion as a human activity of the soul in accordance …show more content…
Of course, there are different actions that produce different end goods as “many actions, skills, and sciences” can result in “many ends as well.” So while not all ends are complete because the action is done for the sake of something else, the chief good however, is complete and has only one end. Thus, happiness is the final good without qualifications for Eudaimonia is stressed to be an activity of completion. The activity is done for “some end” which is desired “for its own sake” which then “everything else…is for the sake of this end.” Aristotle aims to investigate the final, chief good for human beings that derives from knowledge and understanding. It is explicitly stated that “this will be the good, indeed the chief good” one must try “to roughly comprehend” by living a life of contemplation as a scholar.2 The value of knowing this good would help one better conduct his life …show more content…
Once the essential “characteristic activity,” is uncovered, then one can evaluate if the result is happiness. Something is good when it performs its characteristic activity well. If the function of a knife is to cut, a good knife cuts well; if a flute player’s job is to play the flute, a good flute player plays well.3 By performing its essential function well, an object or person can achieve happiness. Aristotle states the “same would seem to be true of a human being,” for if a human lives life well, then he would be happy.3 Yet, one can only determine a well-lived life only if the human characteristic activity is known. Though the most basic characteristic of a human is being alive, that is not enough justification. By a method of elimination, this characteristic activity “is special to a human being” which would rule out animal happiness such as “nourishment and growth” and “sentiment.” Consequently, the human characteristic activity of the soul needs certain virtues such as logical reasoning. Here Aristotle revokes the notion that happiness comes from a characteristic activity from an emotional state or pleasurable state, and instead stresses how reasoning leads to

Related Documents