Aristotle and the Pursuit of Happiness

Topics: Nicomachean Ethics, Virtue, Happiness Pages: 3 (1102 words) Published: December 8, 2005
ARISTOTLE'S EUDAIMONIA

Eudaimonia stands for happiness in Greek. Aristotle argues that the highest good for human beings is happiness. He insists that every action performed by humans is to pursue happiness. Aristotle also argues that human action is always aimed at some end or good. This "good" may not be viewed as a good action or any good by others, but for the doer of the action ("good"), the activity will be perceived as good and that it will bring a favorable outcome. Aristotle also said that all of our actions resulting in ends or goods form a hierarchy. This hierarchy, incorporates a ladder of things, and this ladder would categorize things according to their importance. And the most important thing would be on top of the ladder, thus being the ultimate end. This ultimate end is what all the actions aim to reach at or achieve. [This end must be self-sufficient, it must be attainable and it must be what we want]1. Therefore, because happiness includes all these, then it must be the highest good. An example of this ladder could be a person working hard to lose weight or trying to stay in shape. The bottom step of the ladder is the person working out in a gym, but why is the person working out? To lose weight or maintain their shape. Why does the person want to lose weight or maintain their shape? To look good physically and to be healthy. Why does the person want to look good or be healthy? To be attractive and to lead a stress-less and a comfortable life. And why does the person want to be attractive and/or lead a healthy life? To have peace of mind and to be happy. This example shows that every action is aimed at some end and the ultimate end to the action is happiness. Therefore based on the circumstances, the highest good is happiness and happiness alone.

For Aristotle, happiness was not simply the happiness defined as being cheerful, content or just temporary joy and pleasure. He defined eudaimonia as being a state of well-being, doing good...

Citations: 1. Nicomachean Ethics, Book I
2. http://www.jcu.edu/philosophy/gensler/ms/arist-00.htm
3. http://www.cliffsnotes.com/WileyCDA/LitNote/id-21,pageNum-9.html
4. http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/a/aris-pol.htm
5. http://www.pupress.princeton.edu/chapters/s7751.html
6. http://www.pupress.princeton.edu/chapters/s7751.html
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