April 25th, 2014
Nicomachean Ethics, by Aristotle, is about the ultimate end, good, and final cause of human life. According to Aristotle, all human acts aim at some end that humans consider to be good. The highest human good is that act that is an end in itself. That good is happiness. Although many may think that happiness is a feeling, Aristotle believes happiness to be a flourishing way of life. A flourishing way of life is the function that which when improved, improves the human being as a whole. When individuals aim for happiness, they need to do so for its own purpose, not because they may be rewarded for doing so. For example, someone should go into premed because they care about people’s health, not because it is a high paying job. The goal of Nicomachean Ethics is to determine the best way to achieve the goal of happiness.
For Aristotle, happiness depends on living in agreement with the appropriate virtues of life. Virtues are considered to be characteristics of the mind, rather than an activity. The only way that an individual can improve reason and therefore live a flourishing life is through the acquisition of virtues. There are two classes within the ‘virtue system’. The first class is moral virtues, meaning that it indirectly improves human reason. The second class is intellectual virtues, meaning that it directly improves human reason. Although there are only two classes within the virtue system, there are also many characteristics to a virtuous act. According to Aristotle, for an act to count as virtuous, it needs to obtain three attributes. These attributes consists of knowledge, intentional willingness, and finally, regular habitual action. Consistent performance of these virtues (without fail) can be considered difficult work. He requires that we meet five criteria in order to perform the virtues correctly and habitually. The first standard that Aristotle presents is that we act...
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