How Aristotle views happiness Essay

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Aristotle views happiness from various perspectives. For instance, the science of politics is perceived to possess the highest good according to Nichomachean Ethics in book one, section two.

Aristotle notes that “the attainment of the good for one man alone is, to be sure, a source of satisfaction; yet to secure it for a nation and for states is nobler and more divine.” In order to be a bit reasonable and fair enough in his assertion, he apparently does not give too much attention to this claim because he later notes that happiness can be considered to be a destination on its own.

He also clarifies that “the good of man is an activity of the soul in conformity with excellence or virtue”. Hence, attaining happiness requires an individual to be virtuous and also be in good terms with others. This implies that happiness can be attained by living a life full of virtues. The latter statement is apparently sensible even when judged from various perspectives of happiness.

Nonetheless, section nine of the book injects a different view altogether when politics is correlated with happiness. He observes that “our results also tally with what we said at the outset: for we stated that the end of politics is the best of ends; and the main concern of politics is to engender a certain character in the citizen and to make them good.”

At this point, Aristotle seems to be offering a contradicting statement in comparison to his earlier assertion. For instance, how can safeguarding good for a country be a more gallant and divine undertaking if the highest good of an individual is to obtain happiness? The desire to make citizens to feel fine is the key role of the state.

Therefore, it is better to improve the state than secure the well being of an individual. In addition, common beliefs have also been presumed by Aristotle to be integral in the process of achieving happiness. He elucidates that there are several wise people who share certain ideological beliefs that eventually make them happy.

Whether such beliefs are formidable or not is a completely different concern altogether. He expounds by noting that the various belief systems may as well be dialectic in nature and therefore significant to just a small fragment of a given population. In this case, Aristotle tends to approach the concept of happiness according to the Socratic’s perspectives bearing in mind that there are myriads of questions that he tends to come up with in the common beliefs.

Finally, Aristotle brings out the significance of justice in achieving happiness by commenting that “between friends there is no need for justice, but people who are just still need the quality of friendship; and indeed friendliness is considered to be justice in the fullest sense”. Although Aristotle’s list of virtues does not contain the aspects of justice and friendship, he posits in book eight that justice is the most important virtue needed by an individual in order to attain happiness.

He adds that justice can be improved or enhanced in cases where good friendship prevails among people. Needless to say, Aristotle has managed to convince the readers of his work that justice should always prevail if individual happiness or the overall well being of a state is to be realized.

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