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Aristotle On Happiness Essay

1155 words - 5 pages

Aristotle on HappinessHappiness has different meanings to different people. The rich believe prosperity is the ultimate stage of happiness, the materialistic person thinks it is the amount of possessions, the ruler thinks it is political power, and the artist may think it his fame that makes him happy. Some people even believe there is no such thing as happiness. Almost everyone tries to reach the goal of happiness but not many succeed. The richest people, as well as the most famous artists and the most powerful rulers, still have unhappiness in their lives. We only have to watch television to see that there is a problem. The media shows us every day the unhappiness of the famous. The reason might be that they look in the wrong directions seeking it.In his "Nicomachean Ethics", Aristotle analyzes the problem and tries to show us what happiness really is. Aristotle thinks happiness really exists and persists through life. For him happiness is the goal of goals, the true end of all of our actions. He argues that people are confused about the real meaning of happiness because many think it is a feeling. Aristotle has different thoughts about it; he believes that happiness is not an emotion since it takes action to reach the goal of goals. Emotions are a temporary state and happiness is something that persists, so it cannot be a feeling. In order to show us that happiness does not come from wealth, power, or fame, he establishes four test questions. He argues that most people do not pass these questions. According to Aristotle happiness is something that we cannot lose easily, is appropriate to human beings, and is complete. It must be something choice worthy that is done by us, and not just something that is done for the sake of anything else (NE 1097b5). He believes that happiness is self-sufficient and makes our life complete. He explains that wealth, pleasure, or honor can be temporary and can change. For example, the rich can loose his money; the famous can loose his fame (NE 1100a). A person can be the richest man on earth, but if the person is not healthy and not able to engage in life activities, there cannot be happiness (NE 1095a20). Aristotle looks at happiness as a kind of activity (NE 1098a). He thinks happiness is the goal of goals, which means the end of something that we do in excellence. The Greek word for excellence is arête, and means that we do things with virtue, and we do it well. He gives use the example of the harp player whose function is to play the harp. A good harpist is excellent when she plays the harp well. In other words, the harp player's function is to play the harp to the best to her ability (NE 1098a10). If you go to a concert, you would expect to hear good music, you would not pay a lot of money for a bad performance. Therefore, we can say that doing things well means that it is more important what other people think of us and that we must be objective to meet community standards. Therefore, the human...

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