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Aristotle Essay

Aristotle Essay - Essay 1 According to Aristotle happiness...

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Essay 1: According to Aristotle, happiness is the highest goal of a human being, because it is the only goal that is an end in itself, and is not pursued for the sake of something else. He defines happiness as: “activity of the soul in accordance with complete virtue in a complete life.” He then goes on, in Book X, to argue that the complete happiness for human beings lies in the life of study. Plato, on the other hand, does agree that all humans aim to achieve the highest goal or end (telos), but does not believe that the greatest good is happiness. Plato speaks about justice and how it involves correct power relationships among parts with each part occupying its proper role. There are clear similarities in each philosopher’s point of view. The way they divide the parts of the soul into specific states is a prime example of a clear similarity between the two. This paper will examine Aristotle’s view of happiness as the highest goal for a human being, and study as the action that provides the most complete happiness, As well as Plato’s view of justice and how it is completely necessary to live the “Good” life. It will analyze the arguments used by Aristotle and Plato to reach their specific views, and will then argue that the Aristotelian view, that happiness is truly the highest goal of human beings may be true, but that justice may be a part of the complete virtue to achieve the highest goal of a complete life. For Aristotle, the highest goal (telos) for a human being is happiness. He reaches this conclusion through a series of simple steps in Book I of The Nicomachean Ethics. He begins with the premise that: “every action seeks some good.” Thus the good is what everything seeks. He also premises that if there ends apart from the actions themselves, then those ends are necessarily greater than the activities. All things are desired for the sake of other things, so the thing that is desired for its own sake will be the good.
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Happiness is desired without qualification, for its own sake, thus it is the good. Aristotle then goes on to define happiness relative to human beings. He does this by arguing from the true function of human beings. The function of a human being will be that which is unique to humans, and not shared with others. For example, the function of a human being is not the life of growth and nutrition, for that is shared with plants. Nor can it be the life of sense perception, for that is shared with animals. Therefore, the function of a human being must have something to do with reason, for rationality is the distinctive feature of human beings. A human being’s special function must be life as activity, thus the human function is activity of the soul in accord with reason. For a human being to be an excellent individual, he must complete his function well. Each function is completed well by being completed in accord to virtue proper to itself. Thus, the human good proves to be rational activity of the soul in accordance with virtue. It then remains to define virtue according to Aristotle. He begins his definition of virtue with an examination of
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