Aristotle's Ethics: Luck, Virtue And Happiness

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HUMA 12400
Yizhou Hu
Luck, Virtue and Happiness
The idea that non-virtuous people is possible to be better off than virtuous people like Priam seems to acknowledge that happiness is ultimately determined by luck. Indeed, by emphasizing that certain amount of fortune is necessary to happiness, Aristotle focuses on the relationship between luck, virtue, blessedness and happiness in Chapter 8 of Book 1. In the end, he takes a more intermediate stand toward fortune, claiming that virtue is the determinant of happiness and luck is relevant and complex in a happy life. Virtuous activity itself would be enough to lead one toward happiness. Meanwhile, moderate luck and bad luck have no significant influence on the happiness of virtuous person. On the other hand, extreme luck will make virtuous person blessed while extreme bad luck will make him unhappy. Finally, a vicious person will never be happy. With extreme luck he is still unhappy and without it, he will be miserable. The extreme misfortune, falling upon virtuous person like Priam, is defined by its very nature instead of quantity. For Priam, as suggested by Aristotle, even if he survives the war he will still be virtuous yet unhappy. In other words, luck is something that has its own value, which increase or decrease (might to negative amount) quantity of happiness, and has no impact on the quality of happiness and virtue. Happiness is determined by virtue, and goods of fortune essentially facilitate virtue. Aristotle first asserts that “activities in conformity with virue constitute happiness, and the opposite activities constitute its opposite”. [NE 1100b] It means that once a person continuously acts virtuously, he will be happy no matter he possesses or lacks fortune, which provides none of the necessity of happiness. However, Aristotle also points out that “…a happy man also needs the goods of the body, external goods, and the goods of fortune, in order not to be obstructed by their absence.” [NE 1153B]...
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