Aristotle and Aurelius

Topics: Nicomachean Ethics, Ethics, Human Pages: 6 (2024 words) Published: July 22, 2011
Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics goes to show that he believes that the end goal of all human actions is eudaimonia, or happiness through success and fulfillment. Following this concept Aristotle goes on to explain that through virtuosity a human being can lead a happy life. He defines virtue as a disposition to make the correct decisions that lead to the chief good of happiness. A perfect example is when he describes someone who does an action well as being good, but they are only considered good because of their distinctive activity. The distinctive activity for human beings can be considered our rationale. This is where virtue comes into play in the matter, but this translation could also be deciphered as excellence.

Human beings do every single thing they do for a reason and that reason is to help towards an end goal. Although it may seem like the end goal might be something good like eating lunch, it is actually a chain to the ultimate good which is being happy. Happiness in Aristotle's view is not second-by-second or even minute-by-minute but an entire lifetime. This is because we view happiness as and end goal which we hope to achieve by death and that way you can look back on a person's life to see if they succeeded in their goal, through virtuous moral character and virtuous intellectual character and through the act of temperance. A life-time of that act can guarantee a happy, fulfilling, and successful life.

Being virtuous come through two different ways in our actions as said by Aristotle, “Excellence being of two sorts, then, the one intellectual and the other of character, the intellectual sort mostly both comes into existence and increases as a result of teaching whereas excellence of character results from habituation...” (Nicomachean Ethics, 1103a15). Intellectual virtue comes from teaching, experience, and time while character virtue is formed through the habit of repeated virtuous actions and constant practice. This allows for every human being to potentially have a virtuous moral character for the fact that it cannot be learned but only practiced, and not one person can be born already virtuous. The only problem with this concept is that there is no exact guideline in which to follow in order to become virtuous and, ultimately, happy. Basically Aristotle explains that you can find virtue in the middle ground of your actions, for example, he says “For to arrive at one of the two extremes is more erroneous, to arrive at the other less; so, since it is hard to hit upon intermediate with extreme accuracy, one should take to the oars and sail that way, as they say, grasping what is least bad of what is available...” (Nicomachean Ethics, 1109a35)

There is no teaching as to why, for example, courage is preferred over cowardice or rashness but that you need to practice being courageous in order to understand the reasoning for being courageous. This is true for all virtuous traits and merits of the human character and by combining the moral and intellectual teachings and habits can you start on the path of a virtuous disposition. The key to virtue is keeping within a balance between the vices. For an excessive vice there is excessive pleasure but also excessive pain and for the opposite there is no pleasure and no pain. The key is in a state of temperance in order to feel the correct amount of pleasure for a healthy lifestyle and choices.

Aristotle's views show that someone with a virtuous disposition should automatically or naturally choose the best action or behavior in any circumstances without having to rely on reason because the virtuous habit has been already learned. In response to someone arguing against an accidental choice, these views only perceive the deliberate and voluntary choices made by the person of virtue. Also a virtuous moral character will always aim for the good while unjust character will try to aim for what is their perception or the “apparent” good as...
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