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Duty Or Virtue Essay

2222 words - 9 pages

Happiness is defined as a “state of being happy”. This concept of happiness seems rather simple to the ordinary person. According to Aristotle and Immanuel Kant, happiness is not merely a state. In fact, there is a lot more substance within the dimension of happiness that one must acquire and comprehend to achieve. While Aristotle defines happiness as the final end and self sufficient (8), Kant does not. Instead, Kant emphasizes the kingdom of ends, in which all are subject to the categorical imperative as rational autonomous beings with the intention of universalizing one’s maxim, not happiness. This paper will explore Aristotle’s definition of happiness in comparison to Kant’s.
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Hence, Aristotle is stating that out of all the parts of our soul, we must activate our rational part. For instance, Aristotle writes that “ Being happy, is found in living and being active”. Aristotle therefore states that “the activity of the good person is excellent, and [hence] pleasant in itself, as we said at the beginning; what is our own is pleasant; and we are able to observe our neighbors more than ourselves, and to observe their actions more than our own” (30-35). Thus, a good person finds pleasure in the actions of excellent people who are his friends, since these actions have the naturally pleasant features.
In Book 1 chapter 7, Aristotle discusses the ultimate end, happiness, using three arguments. Firstly, it is complete, meaning that the ultimate end is an end that is not choice worthy, but in itself is a complete one (1094a18-22). Secondly, it is self-sufficient, meaning that one would choose it over anything else (1094a18-22). Finally it is preferable, meaning that the means to happiness is better than anything else compared to it (1094a18-22).
More so, Aristotle is concerned with character and disposition. Aristotle’s virtue theory offers guidance and direction but does not provide a set, unalterable calculation that can be worked out when determining right from wrong to achieve happiness. Aristotle explains that excellence of character is concerned with two points, emotions and actions, as well as likes and dislikes, also known as pleasures and pains. The actions a person preforms exemplify the emotions they are feeling; these emotions, according to Aristotle, include anger, fear, envy, and joy, among others. The other feature of excellence of character has to do with the pleasure or pain derived from performing a certain action. The good man will preform an action because it is a natural indicator of his emotions; he acts according to his true likes and dislikes. However, the self-controlled man has to learn to control himself and forces himself to act contrary to his emotions and likes and dislikes. On the contrary, a self-controlled man does not take pleasure in the actions he participates in because he is simply forcing himself to act that way and therefore, facing an internal struggle. When a person becomes excellent of character by acting according to these guidelines, then he or she will be able to abide by the Doctrine of the Mean. This is because finding the mean, or the virtuous action, involves acting properly according to one’s emotion as well as not giving in to pleasures will produce the most happiness because one is acting for the sake of the ultimate end. Aristotle regards practicing virtues in the right manner helps one become a virtuous person. He explains, “it is not the excess or deficiency of [it] that we censure” (483). Therefore, one will reach happiness by excelling at practicing virtues in the right manner and becoming a virtuous person.
By way of contrast, Immanuel Kant does not view happiness...

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