The Good, The Happiness Of A Human Being

972 words - 4 pages

By the end of Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle has taken us on a journey to find the ultimate good, the ultimate happiness. He has held throughout Nicomachean Ethics that the ultimate good must fit three criteria; it must be complete, self-sufficient and the fully human. Aristotle arrives at what he believes may have the potential of being the ultimate good. He believes that the contemplative life fits the three conditions of the ultimate end of all things. While contemplation may fit the conditions of an ultimate good still it does not appear to be the ultimate human happiness for all human beings.
To begin with, we must analyze a life of contemplation and the implications it assumes. An ideal life of contemplation would seem to neglect our body’s requirements. That is, it would demand that one fully immerses oneself into a state of mental isolation. Humans by nature need to communicate, nurture and maintain their bodies. “For someone who contemplates there is no need of such things for his being-at-work; rather, one might say they get in the way of his contemplating. But insofar as he is human being and lives in company with a number of people, he chooses to do the things that have to do with virtue, and thus will have need of such things in order to live a human life.” (X.8.194) An ideal life of contemplation would limit these necessities and instead place focus on mental maturity and growth. Naturally, we live in a physical world governed by senses, habits of human life and more importantly a lack of time. A life of contemplation would inevitably neglect these habits and instead foster mental maturity. This is why Aristotle alludes to gods when he mentions an ideal contemplative life. It is because gods, being immortal, have an infinite amount of time. By contrast, the moment we are born our time begins ticking. It is true however that contemplation on a moderate level would be acceptable and this is an area we will exam later.
Pursuing this further, throughout Nicomachean Ethics we have seen that the ultimate happiness is not always clear and that it involves many activities. Of these include pleasure and politics. Aristotle has told us that pleasure in moderation is acceptable. When it becomes excessive however it does more harm than good. We have learned in book II that “things such as virtues are of such nature as to be destroyed by deficiency and by excess.” (II.2.24) Aristotle gives examples of bodily pleasures such as eating, drinking and sexual activities because these are the activities we tend to over-indulge in the most. Aristotle states in book ii that this inhibits the growth and habituation of moral virtue. Although the harm isn’t always clear or immediate it is true that a lack of moderation leads to a hindrance in individual growth and growth as a citizen. This leads us to the...

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