Aristotles essay ethics good happy highest life nicomachean

Preliminaries Aristotle wrote two ethical treatises: In any case, these two works cover more or less the same ground:

Aristotles essay ethics good happy highest life nicomachean

Preliminaries Aristotle wrote two ethical treatises: In any case, these two works cover more or less the same ground: Both treatises examine the conditions in which praise or blame are appropriate, and the nature of pleasure and friendship; near the end of each work, we find a brief discussion of the proper relationship between human beings and the divine.

Though the general point of view expressed in each work is the same, there are many subtle differences in organization and content as well. Clearly, one is a re-working of the other, and although no single piece of evidence shows conclusively what their order is, it is widely assumed that the Nicomachean Ethics is a later and improved version of the Eudemian Ethics.

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Not all of the Eudemian Ethics was revised: Perhaps the most telling indication of this ordering is that in several instances the Nicomachean Ethics develops a theme about which its Eudemian cousin is silent. The remainder of this article will therefore focus on this work.

Page and line numbers shall henceforth refer to this treatise. It ranges over topics discussed more fully in the other two works and its point of view is similar to theirs. Why, being briefer, is it named the Magna Moralia? Because each of the two papyrus rolls into which it is divided is unusually long.

Just as a big mouse can be a small animal, two big chapters can make a small book. A few authors in antiquity refer to a work with this name and attribute it to Aristotle, but it is not mentioned by several authorities, such as Cicero and Diogenes Laertius, whom we would expect to have known of it.

Aristotles essay ethics good happy highest life nicomachean

No one had written ethical treatises before Aristotle. The Human Good and the Function Argument The principal idea with which Aristotle begins is that there are differences of opinion about what is best for human beings, and that to profit from ethical inquiry we must resolve this disagreement.

He insists that ethics is not a theoretical discipline: In raising this question—what is the good? He assumes that such a list can be compiled rather easily; most would agree, for example, that it is good to have friends, to experience pleasure, to be healthy, to be honored, and to have such virtues as courage at least to some degree.

The difficult and controversial question arises when we ask whether certain of these goods are more desirable than others.

The Human Good and the Function Argument

To be eudaimon is therefore to be living in a way that is well-favored by a god. But Aristotle never calls attention to this etymology in his ethical writings, and it seems to have little influence on his thinking. No one tries to live well for the sake of some further goal; rather, being eudaimon is the highest end, and all subordinate goals—health, wealth, and other such resources—are sought because they promote well-being, not because they are what well-being consists in.

Aristotles essay ethics good happy highest life nicomachean

But unless we can determine which good or goods happiness consists in, it is of little use to acknowledge that it is the highest end. One important component of this argument is expressed in terms of distinctions he makes in his psychological and biological works.

The soul is analyzed into a connected series of capacities: The biological fact Aristotle makes use of is that human beings are the only species that has not only these lower capacities but a rational soul as well. The good of a human being must have something to do with being human; and what sets humanity off from other species, giving us the potential to live a better life, is our capacity to guide ourselves by using reason.

If we use reason well, we live well as human beings; or, to be more precise, using reason well over the course of a full life is what happiness consists in. Doing anything well requires virtue or excellence, and therefore living well consists in activities caused by the rational soul in accordance with virtue or excellence.

No other writer or thinker had said precisely what he says about what it is to live well.

But at the same time his view is not too distant from a common idea. As he himself points out, one traditional conception of happiness identifies it with virtue b30—1.

He says, not that happiness is virtue, but that it is virtuous activity.Happy Lives and the Highest Good: An Essay on Aristotle's "Nicomachean Ethics" the controversy about whether it coherently argues that the best life for humans is one devoted to a single activity, namely philosophical alphabetnyc.com: Gabriel Richardson Lear.

Happiness in Aristotle’s work: The Nicomachean Ethics Essay However, if this was true happiness would be a mental state and one would be happy while sleeping (ba3).

Similarly, many associate honor and politics with happiness. Happy Lives and the Highest Good: An Essay on Aristotle's "Nicomachean Ethics" by Gabriel Richardson Lear (Author). Nicomachean Ethics is a philosophical inquiry into the nature of the good life for a human being. Aristotle begins the work by positing that there exists some ultimate good toward which, in the final analysis, all human actions ultimately aim.

The necessary characteristics of the ultimate good are. Happy Lives and the Highest Good. An Essay on Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics (review) Peter Lautner Classical World, Volume , Number 2, Winter , pp.

. An Essay on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Princeton: Princeton University Press, Pp. viii, $ ISBN One of the major puzzles in the Nicomachean Ethics is the ambiguity of what Aristotle considers the highest good.

In most of the treatise he argues that it is a life of virtues with some measure of bodily and external goods.

Aristotle's Ethics (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)