Summary- Book 1
In Aristotle’s Nicomachean ethics book one, he starts of describing “good”. He believes that every activity humans do is to achieve a good. The satisfactory goals we have are to achieve a greater good. And our highest good is classified as the supreme good. Politics is a form of this good. But it cannot be classified as the supreme good because what is good for one may not be good for another. The supreme good to humans would be happiness. But what constitutes happiness? Humans would be more driven to say a sensual pleasure but this is not all true. This would be only the animal instinct but humans equate happiness with so much more. There are three types of life—that thriving on sensual pleasure, the political, and thirdly the contemplative life. Most prefer the sensual desires of happiness. Honor shows recognition of goodness therefore being honored cannot be the highest goodness. In Plato’s theory of forms he implies that there is one good thing that all good things have in common. This theory does not hold to be true when what everyone considers to be good is different. The diversity in all things humans consider to be good could not have one single unifying form of good. So interest switch from the good to how can someone be good? How can some one achieve being good? Happiness is the highest good because it has a sufficient end in itself. Intelligence and virtue are good because they make us happy. We say people are “good” if they perform their function/occupation/talent well. Such as a person who can play the flute. If they play the flute well they are a good flutist; playing the flute being the distinct function of the flutiest. Distinct rational activity is what separates us from plants and animals. Therefore the supreme good is an activity in which is in rational accordance with virtue. This is in accordance with the views of a happy person. A happy person is seen as rational, virtuous and active. Goods can be divided into three classes relating to either external, soul (truly goods) or body and psychic actions (also relating to the soul). We identify a good end with good actions thus not relating to external desires. Happiness is defined as having a good life in consistent with good actions. The characteristics in happiness seem to be what we have described happiness as being. Many identify happiness with virtue, wisdom, philosophic sort of wisdom, accompanied by some means of pleasure or not without pleasure or even including also material successes. Happiness describes ones whole life not the brief moments of happiness. This is ironic then; that someone’s whole life can only be considered happy after there death. However a truly good person will always act in a virtuous way even when faced with hardship. Once death occurs, posthumous can honor or dishonor the person. The behavior of predecessors can affect that person’s happiness. Aristotle believes the soul is divided into two parts: rational and irrational. The rational is made of the vegetative aspect and the appetitive aspect. The vegetative aspect deals with ones nutrition and has little to do with ones virtue. The appetitive aspect controls our impulses. The rational part of being human is able to control our impulses. Therefore the greater rationality one has the better they are able to control the impulses. Critique- Book 1
I feel Aristotle’s work in book one has generally good points about goodness, virtue and human rational. Being happy to humans is composed of a lot of different things. Being successful and living virtuously are a few of those things. Living a life in which these aspects are fulfilled and one is content with the nature of the life they are living they are deemed a good person. But it is true, that what is considered good to one may not be considered good to the next. Happiness is a state of living and not considered to be just a feeling as Aristotle...
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