April 26, 2013
Is Happiness Achievable?
Aristotle states there are several goods in the world but most of these are not ultimate ends; instead they are means to something else. However, he declares happiness is the ultimate good because everything we do, we do in hopes of being happy and we don’t use happiness as a means to achieve another thing. He also states there are rules to be followed and maintained in order to accurately judge someone or something as being happy, and two of those are virtue and excellence.
Aristotle defines a virtue as an activity which demonstrates a good, leaves a person feeling well, or accomplishes a goal. He also defines excellence by how an activity is perceived in the community. And, you cannot have virtue without excellence. Mainly because a person could engage in an activity they believe demonstrates a good, accomplishes a goal and leaves them virtuous, however, if this activity is such as theft or murder then most would not consider this a virtuous activity or a virtuous man. Thus, the perception of the community is needed to judge the activity as excellent and the man as virtuous or “our conduct with other men is what determines if we are just or unjust” (Aristotle, p75).
An example of this can be seen with the Nestle Company. The company had developed a healthy alternative to breastfeeding, a formula which they distributed to new mothers who were unable to successfully breastfeed in developing countries. This appears to be a just and virtuous act and Nestle is seen as an excellent company. Conversely, they began to distribute the formula to all new mothers and suggested they use formula instead of attempting to breastfeed. This resulted in mothers not being able to breastfeed and having to buy more formula, and this is the end goal of business – to increase and obtain as much profit as possible. The negative side of the situation arises when Nestle provided the formula but did not provide...