Aristotle on Riches and Happiness

Topics: Ethics, Eudaimonia, Happiness Pages: 2 (616 words) Published: December 4, 2008
Paper # 1
(Why does Aristotle deny that riches make the happiness of the whole city?) Aristotle does not specifically deny that riches make the happiness of the entire city but he does feel that riches alone will not provide happiness, at least in the Aristotelian sense of the word, to the entire city. To support this thesis, I will need to clarify what Aristotle means by happiness and why riches are insufficient means to provide this happiness to the whole city. I will also analyze Aristotle’s views regarding the telos of the individual and how this relates to the happiness of the whole city. In Aristotle’s view, happiness is achieved by possessing what he refers to as the good. In chapter 1 of book 7, Aristotle separates the good into three different classes which he terms, external goods, goods of the body, and goods of the soul. External goods refer to the wealth and possessions of an individual or a city. Health is the main example of a good of the body. Goods of the soul include things like wisdom, courage, temperance, and virtue. Aristotle believes that of all the goods, the goods of the soul are most important, but he feels that all three are necessary for happiness to be possible. This he holds to be a self evident truth. In Aristotle’s view, goods of the soul are the best kind of goods because they are ends in and of themselves and not just means to some other end. The distinction between means and ends is important when answering the question of why riches can’t provide happiness to the whole city. Aristotle considers happiness to be an end in itself which man pursues solely for its own sake. Riches are only considered a good to the extent that they help to facilitate man’s acquisition of the ends such as wisdom, virtue, and rational activity. Aristotle realizes that the mind is subservient to the body and that to meet the requirements of the body certain conditions must be present. Health is one of these conditions. Wealth can be used...
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