Nov. 6th, 2017
ASSIGNMENT 2: SHORT PAPER #1: Aristotle’s Account of Pleasure
Aristotle discusses pleasure on two accounts in Nicomachean Ethics Book VII and X. Both books particularly differ over what pleasure really is; however throughout both discussions, it is agreed upon that pleasure is not a bad thing.
Aristotle claims that a happy life must include pleasure, and argues those who disagree and believe pleasure is bad by nature. He further insists that there are more than just physical and bodily pleasures, and the best pleasures are experiences on a broader scale by the good man who performs good actions. Even though there are common similarities at first glance of the definition of pleasure, there are also many meaningful differences between both accounts of pleasure, which include whether pleasure is a chief good in its relation to eudaimonia. In this paper I will critically evaluate both accounts of pleasure to indicate whether pleasure is good or bad.
In Book VII, Aristotle claims pleasure is a natural activity performed without impediments. It also goes on to clarify what pleasure is and what it is not. There are three views on the subject: 1) some people think that no pleasure is a good, either in itself or incidentally, since the good and pleasure are not the same; (2) others think that some pleasures are good but that most are bad. (3) Again there is a third view, that even if all pleasures are good, yet the best thing in the world cannot be pleasure.(Book VII, chapter 11) The reasons given for the first view are pleasures that are considered dishonorable or harmful are not pleasures at all, and that pleasure is surely an significant part of the highest good. The concept behind this view is that pleasure is not a process but an activity, which further implies that pleasure, is the highest good, because happiness is thought to be a complete and perfect activity and pleasure is considered to be an unimpeded activity. Furthermore, all humans look to pursue pleasure to find happiness. Aristotle argues with the second and third view by clarifying that most people only understand the bodily pleasures which arise from satisfying desires for food, sex, sleep, etc. Aristotle's analysis of the nature of pleasure is not meant to apply to every case in which something seems pleasant to someone, but only to activities that really are pleasures. All of these are unimpeded activities of a natural state.
By reading book VII discussions it is clear to understand that pleasure is not an absolute bad if the intentions and activity are beneficial to the individual and society, but can be if the actions are considered harmful. Pleasure can both be apart of bodily activities and process of mind. It is not always good to seek pleasures because it may make something bad seem good for a moment, but we can also say this is good because some pleasures may attract human to a good life if they pursue...