Aristotle happiness and the human good

Aristotle attempted to ground his ideas of virtue on those characteristics of human nature that seem to be both universal and constant. While it is certainly true that Aristotle held the Greeks in much higher esteem than he did the "barbarians," and that his claims concerning both women and slaves i. In part, Aristotle examines the behavior and moral judgments of men who would be considered not only good and virtuous, but the most qualified to judge in matters of this kind, and he attempts to both supplement and justify the natural judgments of such persons. Overall, Aristotle speaks of moral virtue as a mean, and he describes the virtuous person as one whose behavior is neither excessive nor deficient in regard to the emotions, desires, and appetites.

Aristotle happiness and the human good

Aristotle happiness and the human good

Kristen Inglis Lorenzo Colombani Question: The Nicomachean Ethics is devoted to the study of human actions. It aims to highlight their meaning and their purpose. Now, Aristotle claims at the very beginning of the Ethics that every action, enquiry of study aims some good, and that all instrumental goods are subordinated to the seek for happiness.

Nonetheless, this claim does not tell us how to be happy. Thus, the issue that is here raised is the question of what kind of activity is actually able to make Man reach happiness.

The quotation, which will be here discussed, gives an answer: The statement can be split up into two parts: We will proceed by explaining respectively both of those clauses in order to demonstrate that this claim means, that human happiness consists in actualizing acts, which are done following a rational principle.

This includes theoretical acts reasoning as well as ethical ones being courageous. First, why is happiness an activity of the soul? According to Aristotle in The Physics, every kind of substantial being has a natural purpose, which is a goal it is made to aim.

For example, the constitution of a rock makes it fall. Now, living beings are particular beings, which are animated. There are three kinds of living beings1, which are analogically related to three modes of the soul 2: In order to be itself, every being has to actualize its functions.

For example, a dead tree, which could not grow and nourish itself anymore, could not be considered as a tree anymore but should be considered as a remaining piece of wood. By analogy, a living being capable of reasoning but, which would not use reason but would still eat, grow and move, would have an animal and vegetative life.

Besides, happiness is a state, which cannot be reached by inanimate beings. So whatever happiness consists in, it must be an activity of the soul, namely and tautologicallysomething, which is reached by the actualization of the functions of living beings.

Actualization must be understood as the opposite or following state of potentiality. For instance, a seed is potentially a tree. But if it lacks of water and nutriments, then it will not actualize the function of growing and self- nourish, therefore it will not be a tree.

Analogically, happiness cannot be a potentiality, but has to be an activity, which is necessarily related to soul since it concerns living beings and specifically human beings. It includes the better state of soul that is, courage is the better state of soul against an enemy as well as the state, where the fireplace and the chimney perform well their function.

This state is twofold: Secondly, the state is an excellent actualization of this standard. So, human happiness is the actualization of what is essential to Man, in a virtuous way that is, in the best way possible.

How can we be sure that we can actualize what is essential to us, in the same perfect way than animals naturally fulfill their functions moving or perceiving?

What is essential to Man? Since he achieves both a vegetative life he nourishes itself, he grows and diesan animal life he moves and perceives and is able to reason, we must work out what function is specifically human.

In that respect, a gentleman is the state of a man, where the man performs his social duties or function in the best way he can, that is, in accord with the social standard of what a man is supposed to do and by inference, to be. Man belongs to the genus of beings, to the living beings, to the vegetative beings, to animals and is eventually a rational animal.

So being a genuine human consists in actualizing what makes a Man a Man. For example, a Man who would only eat, move and grow would have the same kind of life than an animal4. Thus, being human consists in actualizing reason as much as possible. How can we be sure to be inclined to do reasonable things?

Acting in accord with virtue is also about acting thanks to an habit we had develop by repeating the excellent actions. Moreover, since Man belongs to several genuses, there are as many ways of actualizing reason as there are functions, that Man is capable of realizing.

That is why Aristotle talks about the part of the soul, which is purely rational and the part of the soul, which can only be rational to the extent it obeys to reason. For instance, it is possible to actualize pure reason by theoretical contemplation, but also either by being bold, that is, choosing rationally to stand against the enemy during a battle, or by working out what kind of food we can eat, in which quantity, or when we can party and eat without moderation.

Aristotle happiness and the human good

In that respect, the human good is the activity of the soul in accord with virtue, that is to say, the kind of activity involving acts, which match with the proper rational criteria5, since rationality is the human specific virtue.

Several questions, however, still remain. Is reason the real specificity of Man?For human beings in general, Aristotle suggests that the ultimate end or good is happiness, and that happiness itself is living in accordance with reason and virtue.

He arrives at this conclusion by differentiating the function of human beings from the function of all other living things. Like Plato and Socrates he emphasized the importance of reason for human happiness, The Aristotelian Ethics all aim to begin with approximate but uncontroversial starting points.

Reason and Human Good in Aristotle. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

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In Aristotle's works, eudaimonia (based on older Greek tradition) was used as the term for the highest human good, and so it is the aim of practical philosophy, including ethics and political philosophy, to consider (and also experience) what it really is, and how it can be achieved.

We have defined happiness formally as the complete and sufficient good for a human being. But there are many different views of what sorts of life satisfy this formal definition.

Aristotle specifically mentions the life of gratification (pleasure, comfort, etc), the life of money-making, the life of (political) action, and the philosophical. The ultimate good of man should naturally flow from performing his function well; therefore, as Aristotle theorizes, "the Good of man [and, by extension, the definition of happiness] is the active exercise of his soul's faculties in conformity with excellence or virtue, or if there be several human excellences or virtues, in conformity with the.

In the quest to find out what is the ultimate human good, Aristotle dedicated Book 1 of the Nicomachean Ethics to provide an account of what is the ultimate human good, and what it consists of. This essay will examine why Aristotle thinks that eudaimonia (happiness), is the ultimate human good.

What is Human Good for Aristotle? | Lorenzo Colombani -