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Aristotle: Virtue & Happiness

'Here be the fruit of an assigned analysis of Aristotle's "Nichomachean Ethics"; the tome in which the philosopher tackles the whole "Meaning Of Life" bit that the existentialists are always bemoaning. 'Briefly put; eudaimonia (happiness of a certain form) is the end, but it ain't so easy to obtain:

Abstract

"In the past, it has been asked what the relationship is between happiness and virtue? Is there a connection between the two, and, if so, is the relationship mutually reinforcing, or do they stand in mutual conflict with one another? For the purposes of this essay, we will guide our inquiry into these questions by referring to the arguments presented to readers by Aristotle’s “Nicomachean Ethics” (NE).

By Aristotle’s estimation, it could be said that there are two categories of things and actions that are pursued by human beings. There are those that are pursued for the sake of obtaining something else, and those that are pursued purely for their own sake and no other.

These categories of desirable things may then be further described through analogy. A knife, for instance, is not truly desired for its own sake, but rather for its utility in cutting - it is thus an example of the first category. Virtue, in contrast, may be provided as an example of something that is desired for its own sake - the sake of being virtuous - but also for the sake of the end of obtaining happiness, enlightenment, or peace. For his own part, Aristotle argued that the virtues described within the NE had happiness as their ultimate end, and that its acquisition represented the highest goal of all willful action undertaken by rational human beings."


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