Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics: Hobbes On Moral Virtue

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In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle argues that happiness is the ultimate good that we strive to attain. He begins by reasoning that either we desire each good for the sake of another, that is, every good is but means to achieve another good, or that we desire at least one good for its own sake and for this good alone we desire others. He refutes the first claim of the premise by stating that, ‘if we choose everything for the sake of something else”, consequently, “the result will lead to a pointless and ineffectual infinite progression” (Aristotle, 4). Naturally, given the erroneous nature of the first claim, Aristotle agrees with the second claim that there is, at least, one good in which we desire for its own sake. In order to desire a …show more content…
Aristotle states that moral virtues are not inherent sources of reason but can be influenced by reason to aid in the acquisition of happiness. Hobbes believes that moral virtues are dispositions that are influenced by reason to make men more inclined to avoid returning to a state of nature.
Hobbes makes the most compelling arguments mainly due to his pragmatism and understanding of the nature of man. His argument against an objective good thoroughly debunks the pomposity of Aristotle 's argument for ultimate happiness and the contemplative life because it applies more broadly to mankind. It is true that we desire goods for other goods but that does not necessarily mean that our desire is, in turn, vain and empty; it simply means that we are ambitious creatures that remain hungry for new input.
He also presents a libertarian (despite having authoritarian views on the government) view on the desires of the individual and presents them as all equally valid instead of attempting to generalize the best sort of desires for man as Aristotle does. Hobbes understands the various degrees in which man desires whereas Aristotle argues that there is a specific way in which a man should

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