Aristotle: Why A Life Of Contemplation Is The Happiest.

1200 words - 5 pages

In Book X of the Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle discusses the various lives that people lead in order to achieve true happiness. He suggests a particular few to be the best candidates for this, yet concludes the most pleasant to be the contemplative life. In this essay, I will examine Aristotle's reasons for believing that a life of contemplation and reason is the best one. I will also show how his argument is not persuasive due to his lack of support for a number of the premises stated.In order to fully understand Aristotle's reasoning for saying that a life of contemplation is the happiest, we must first be aware of what "happiness" means to Aristotle. Every day of our lives, we use the word "happy" in a sense which means "feeling good". We use the word happy to describe pleasures that we are experiencing at any given moment. In this meaning of the word, it is quite possible for us to feel happy at one moment and not at the next. This is not Aristotle's meaning of the word. For him, the human life may involve many pains and troubles accompanying the pleasurable moments, yet still can be considered a happy life. Happiness, in other words, is not an emotional or psychological feeling (Aristotle, p. 40). It is not the pleasure or the pains that we experience throughout our lives. It is a "complete life", according to Aristotle, involving pleasurable and not so pleasurable experiences (Aristotle, p. 41). This is why Aristotle believes that no child can be happy for the have not yet completed their life (Aristotle, p. 40). He also argues that a life must be finished before a person can call it a good or happy life. Not until it is really over can you say, "It was a good life" -- that is, if it has been well lived. Toward the middle, or before, all you can say is that it is becoming a good or happy life (Aristotle, p. 40).Aristotle believes there are three types of lives that are thought to be happy: the life of enjoyment, the Political Life, and the contemplative life. The life of enjoyment focuses on traditional pleasures, the Political life aims for honor and moral virtue, and the contemplative life is a life of wisdom (Aristotle, p. 37). However, Aristotle goes on to say that the best and most pleasant life must be one that fills the proper function of man (Aristotle, p. 48). He claims that there must be a primary function that distinguishes man from all other living things. Life is common to pants, just as perception is common to animals (Aristotle, p. 38); therefore, if we are to eliminate what is common to all living things, we are left with our ability to rationalize, or in other words, reason (Aristotle, p. 48). As said before, if the best life is one that fills its proper function, which Aristotle concludes to be reason, then the best and most pleasant life must be a life of reason.With this established, Aristotle furthers his argument by saying that this life of reason and contemplation will be the happiest, also because the gods are...

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