What Does Aristotle Identify as the Ultimate Human Good? Why Does He Select That Condition?

Topics: Happiness, Meaning of life, Nicomachean Ethics, Ethics / Pages: 8 (1794 words) / Published: Nov 12th, 2008
In the quest to find out what is the ultimate human good, Aristotle dedicated Book 1 of the Nicomachean Ethics to provide an account of what is the ultimate human good, and what it consists of. This essay will examine why Aristotle thinks that eudaimonia (happiness), is the ultimate human good. Through this discussion, we will see Aristotle suggest four central views which are critical to eudaimonia being the ultimate human good. Firstly, one has to live a life according to one’s function. Secondly, natural, virtuous activity is required in order to live a life of happiness. Thirdly, one requires possessing external goods such as wealth, power and friends in order to be happy. Last but not least, in order to live a life of happiness, one has to live a whole life in accordance to virtue in order to determine if the person lived a happy life.
Whatever we do in life, according to Aristotle, we do for the sake of some good, or at least something we perceive to be good (Ross, Book 1, chap. 1). Aristotle points out that ends pursued for some further purpose, such as wealth is said to be incomplete because it has not reached the final end (Ross, Book I). Without a final end, all actions will be pointless and empty. Aristotle’s search for the ultimate good is a search for the “highest good”. Aristotle argues that the good must be something complete, which is not desired for some further end (Ross, Book I). Therefore it is just to say that the most complete end is intrinsically valuable.
Aristotle proposes that eudaimonia is the most intrinsically valuable. Eudaimonia is defined as happiness, or well-being. It is the universally recognized chief good (Runes, 2004). Happiness is the ultimate human good, because when we ask ourselves why we do something, ultimately we come to the conclusion – because it makes us happy. Happiness is an end to itself. It is the ultimate human good. Through this, we can see three distinct characteristics to happiness: it is desirable for



Cited: Runes, D. Dagobert. Dictionary of Philosophy. July 10, 2004. Digital Text International. April 5th, 2007. http://www.ditext.com/runes/e.html Ross, D. W. “Nicomachean Ethic, Book 1.” Nicomachean Ethics. 350 BC. March 28th, 2007. http://www.constitution.org/ari/ethic_01.htm#1.1

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