The Pursuit Of Virtue In Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics

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“Every art and every inquiry, and likewise every action and choice, seems to aim at some good, and hence it has been beautifully said that the good is that at which all things aim.” As Aristotle makes inquires and deliberates over what is the highest end for the human life, he debates over what constitutes the highest good. Throughout the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle argues that we aim at some end through our pursuits of action, and that those ends are in some way connected at achieving the highest good. Aristotle suggests the possibility of happiness, translated from the Greek word eudaimonia, which refers to a “state of having a good indwelling spirit or being in a contented state of being healthy, happy and prosperous.” For the one who …show more content…
Aristotle argues that certain things or conditions must be present to attain happiness, and in that “a certain sort of being-at-work of the soul in accordance with virtue” is required. I will argue that, for Aristotle, happiness cannot be the same as pleasure. However, we will see that happiness is importantly related to pleasure and pain, both in that the virtuous person comes to desire and finds satisfaction in acting virtuously, and in the sense that many of the virtues of character deal specifically with how we respond to our pleasures and pains. Since happiness is a certain way of being at work with virtues, Aristotle speaks of “virtues as pertaining either to thinking or to character”. Aristotle argues that all actions should point toward some good, as without virtue one cannot be happy, as the ability to be virtuous is unified within a good …show more content…
Happiness is sometimes equated with pleasure, although this may be sufficient for animals, for human life one must strive for a divine sense of true happiness that is not the direct result of a single action. Aristotle makes the argument that pleasure is something that even animals can experience, this proving that there is no distinction between human life. For this reason, Aristotle believes that someone who simply strives for pleasure as the highest good is slavish and like a fatted cattle. As pleasures themselves change throughout one’s actions, it is important that one dedicates themselves to excelling and being virtuous, as being virtuous in itself becomes pleasurable. Although pleasure is still an important factor in excelling and living well, it is not the primary goal nor the highest good one can achieve. This ever important balance between pleasure and pain is evident throughout Aristotle’s theory of the Golden Mean; which is the desirable middle between the two extremes of deficiency and excess. Temperance which is the mean of insensibility and self-indulgence, is the ability to control oneself when making choices about bodily pleasures. When one commits an act it stays with that person and shapes how they will act in the future. These repeated actions lead to a fundamental change, and in such if these repeated actions are virtuous in nature, they promote a

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