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Compare And Contrast The Concepts Of Eudaimonia And Happiness, And Their Respective Roles In The Ethical Philosophies Of Aristotle And Mill

2188 words - 9 pages

In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle attempts to determine what the best life consists in, and demonstrate that all human action aims at eudaimonia. Mill's ethical philosophy is that actions are right if they promote the general amount of happiness, wrong if they decrease it. Their respective concepts, eudaimonia and happiness are similar in many ways, for example, they both embrace the idea of quality of happiness as well as quantity. There is a fundamental difference between them though, and this is related to the consideration of others in their doctrines.From the first line of the Nicomachean ethics; 'Every art and every enquiry, 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' (1094a19), Aristotle's ethical philosophy can be concluded. There are two basic aspects to Aristotle's claim, which are that human action is to be interpreted in terms of means and ends, and that there is one ultimate end at which all things aim. As Woodard says, 'Aristotle is claiming that everything we do, all our actions are ultimately intended to lead us to a state of success and well-being', which is the ultimate end of human action called 'eudaimonia'.There has been much debate surrounding the correct translation of 'eudaimonia'. It is a direct transliteration from Ancient Greek, and had the meaning 'good fortune', often with special references to external prosperity, in Ancient Greece. It has often been translated as 'happiness', but Ross says 'the word 'eudaimonia' is used to refer to whatever life s most desirable and satisfying. The word 'happiness' is not quite the same force'. He also says it 'is not a state of feeling or enjoyment or content', like we would commonly say about 'happiness'. It has a more objective meaning than happiness, and many translators have chosen to translate it with 'flourishing', 'success' or 'the Good Life'. Bostock feels it 'connotes overall success and prosperity and achievement, though also connotes something we may call happiness'. In his opinion, it is the good of the soul, not of the body or of external good.Simultaneously, eudaimonia is also what is most good, most noble and most pleasant. It includes good looks, wealth, good birth, friends, political influence and successful children. Ackrill says 'eudaimonia is absolutely final and self-sufficient, and is more desirable than anything else in that it includes everything desirable in itself. It is not something to look forward to (like a contented retirement), it is a life, enjoyable and worthwhile throughout'. Aristotle insists it is a kind of activity; that it is not any kind of pleasure, though pleasure accompanies it. So eudaimonia is 'the best life', a life which exhibits excellence of character, and is what all action aims at.Aristotle believed that whatever we do, we do it for a reason, and Woodard points out, 'usually a reason that we think is good, or...

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