Aristotelian Philosophy Essay

Aristotelian Philosophy Term paper

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Aristotle argues that happiness, function and morality are closely connected and that virtue is dependent upon all of them. To fully comprehend Aristotle’s theory, we must first examine each of these qualities and then determine how they are related to one another. The deliberation process will show that all of these qualities can be strongly connected, but not exclusively. Happiness, function, morality and virtue can exist independent of one another. The first deliberation is to define happiness. Happiness is the
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highest of all practical goods identified with “ living well of doing well”(100). According to Aristotle, Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and pursuit, is thought to aim at some good ;and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim. But a certain difference is found among ends (99). An example of this reflection would be the final product created by an architect. This individual completed building a
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structure from start to finish and has reached the end of the project. The architect is pleased by the results of what she created. The architect achieved the desired outcome and is therefore happy. A difference between the actual end and the desired outcome is what makes happiness different for each individual. All ends do not lead to happiness. For example, finishing a painting makes the artist happy but not the autoworker whose preferred end is making vehicles. The fact
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that not all human beings share the same ends proves that happiness is found at different ends. Aristotle illustrates happiness as being the “chief good”. In the following quote he explains that rational human beings take happiness for itself and never for any other reasons: Since there are evidently more than one end, and we choose some of these…for the sake of something else, clearly not all ends are final ends ;but the chief good is evidently something final. (103).
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By this definition, happiness must be only the final end, which is the “chief good” (103). This means that happiness is the pursuit of all that which is desired, and the desire is to reach the final end. If the end is final it becomes the “chief good” (103). In Aristotle’s own words he says, “Happiness, then, is something final and self-sufficient, and is the end of action”(103). To say that happiness is the only chief good is not completely
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true. If happiness is the only chief good than what is our function as human beings? Aristotle associates functioning well with happiness and happiness is the final result. He says that the function of human being is, “…an activity of soul which follows or implies a rational principle…”(103). Human beings must have the ability to exercise their capacity to reason in order to function well. Reasoning is the key factor in making decisions. Human beings use reasoning to decide what
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choices to make in life. The outcome of the choices humans make is what creates desire. As a result, desires are what determine the “chief good” (103). If the chief good is happiness, than the function of human beings and reasoning must also be happiness. One will stay on the path towards happiness if reasoning is used as a function of life. Having virtue is an essential part of the equation that sustains happiness and the ability to function well.
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Rather than taking detours down paths of deficiency and excessiveness, one may use reasoning to become a virtuous person. By staying committed to the path toward happiness, one is considered virtuous. Aristotle claims that the, “virtue of man also will be the state of character which makes a man good and which makes him do his own work well”(111). If the above statement is true than only virtuous human beings are happy and if they are happy than they must
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also be functioning well. Aristotle then divides virtue into two separate areas: intellectual virtue and
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