Happiness, the Ultimate Good
The ultimate good in a science is that for which everything else is done. For example, in the time of Aristotle, well bred horses and well made saddles were not ultimate goods, but were means to accomplish the ultimate good of strategy in warfare, which is to win battles. Aristotle explains in book one of Nicomachean Ethics that the ultimate good in life must also be that which is desired for its own sake. In other words, the ultimate good in life must be a final end that is not used as a means of obtaining anything else. He identifies the ultimate good in life as happiness, for happiness is desired for itself, and is not used to obtain any other thing.
After reasoning that happiness is the ultimate good in life, Aristotle discusses what, if anything, a man can do to in order to be happy. He says that happiness is achieved by those who live in accordance with complete virtue throughout a complete life, being sufficiently equipped with external goods, and who are likely to die without encountering numerous and major misfortunes.
Aristotle presents that happiness is a natural consequence of acting in accordance with virtue, for such activity causes pleasure without causing any harm. To act with complete virtue, a man must do all that is good for him and nothing that is bad for him from a natural disposition to do so. In order to act with virtue in some situations it only requires man to act or to abstain from action. For example, when there is a building burning down with people trapped inside, a man must decide whether to run in and try to save them, or whether to remain outside. However, in some situations a man must find a point of excellence; this being a point where doing any more would be excessive and where doing any less would be insufficient. Finding a point of excellence is apparent in the consumption of food. A man can put his health at risk by eating either too much or too little. For this reason,...
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