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Humans have always sought for numerous things in life. The most significant of all and
that all human beings seek is happiness. Aristotle based his sinks deeper in his works to explain
several aspects of happiness. Such elements defined by Aristotle are the constituents of happiness
and how people acquire it. This article analyzes the work of Aristotle in Nicomachean Ethics
Book 1.
Aristotle begins by stating that states that the human behavior is always motivated
towards the attainment of pleasure and utility in all pursuits and undertakings. The practices
involved are sometimes the desired results. Aristotle gives numerous examples of several
pursuits, arts, and sciences. For example, the end of the science of medicine is health.
What constitutes happiness is disputable. Different philosophers give different accounts.
Ordinarily, people identify happiness with the obvious and visible good such as wealth or honor
among others. Just like the philosophers, men also have different definitions of happiness. This
definition changes in a person from time to time depending on the circumstances. For instance,
when one is sick, they think that health is happiness. When they are poor, they think that
happiness is wealth. At other times, people think that other people are happier than they are. That
is despite our good at present, we still believe that there exists another good somewhere else
being enjoyed by some other people. Therefore, considering the diversity of happiness it is

difficult to review all the different opinions of happiness because different lives have different
However, there is a theory of the universal good. This theory defines two types of good
things- things that are good in themselves and things that are good as a means. These good things
are described in terms of how they bring happiness. Those that bring happiness in the course of
practicing them are a representation of good as a means. Those that bring happiness in the end
are the good things in themselves. For example, a well-finished table may bring happiness in the
carpenter who made it. The happiness in his case is only after the table is completed. The table is
a good thing in itself because it will bring happiness to the carpenter.
According to Aristotle, happiness also constitutes in virtue. There are two kinds of virtuemoral and intellectual virtue. The moral virtue is a product of habits whereas the intellectual
virtue is produced and multiplied by instruction. Therefore, intellectual virtue requires
experience and time. According to Aristotle, happiness is not derived from the hierarchy of good
things (virtues); it simply is the state of mind.
Nature gives us the capacity to receive the virtues, and this capacity matures by habit.
The virtues are also acquired by practicing them just like the arts. These are our patterns, which
form our virtues; we are not born virtuous but they learn through practice. A generous man has to
practice generosity by giving away things; a thrifty man has to learn to not spend excessively.1
Habit forming is an influenced activity, and Aristotle firmly believes that men are most gullible
in childhood, like the mold at high temperatures. Being virtuous is also about being in harmony
with it. If a person despises being generous, then he is not virtuous.2 Virtue should bring joy

Allen, Reginald E. 2006. Greek philosophy: Thales to Aristotle. 1103.

Ibid. 114.

since that is the only way that provides happiness. It is through the nurturing of good virtues that
man can attain the highest good.
Aristotle talks about happiness, as he believes that the perfect form of happiness comes
from reason. Those who know are happier than those who seek because wisdom is the best kind
of happiness. He thinks that philosophers have the best kind of happiness. As further proof of
wisdom being the best kind of happiness, Gods contemplate and think. Contemplation and
thinking are the best types of happiness. The superior kind of happiness is the bliss that is
connected to the best virtue. Reasoning is the best kind of virtue and since philosophers are
better at reaching reason than others they are happier.
Aristotles vision of a good life can be perceived as a precursor and a contributor to
development ethics perspective for a good society. He believed that the highest good of human
life is eudemonia or happiness.3 He was a student of Platos and treated his philosophy as a foil
compared to his view on ethics. His ethics backs to Greece over 2000 years ago on the social and
political issues.
According to the text, as a Greek philosopher Aristotle argues that the goal of life is
happiness, which can be achieved by leading a virtuous life in accordance with the reason. Some
of these virtues include honor, loyalty, courage, integrity, and forthrightness (NE I.1, 1094a1). He
believed that happiness is the activity of the soul. We fulfill goals of being happy by living a
virtuous life, a life in accordance with reason. We can demonstrate these virtue characteristics
through voluntary actions.

Ibid. 115.

His approach is that if life is worth living, then it must surely be your sake. One popular
concept of the highest human good is the pleasure. Anyone can have the pleasure from a variety
of things such as sex, food, and alcohol consumption. The next one is in political life for human
nature. The third one is the scientific contemplation. Humans should have a duty to be
individuals. They should think of themselves as plants within reason of the moral and
Aristotles philosophy is noteworthy because virtue is the golden mean of all the
numerous priorities in life. He believed that practice makes perfect, and this comes through
experience. The moral portion of a person versus the utilitarianism and deontology focuses on
the virtue ethics.4 We all have a variety of character traits that developed within each person as
we mature. He believed that if we can understand and identify with virtues we can arrange them
through the features of their life.
Virtues acquired through human qualities, the excellences of character, which enable a
person to achieve the good life for humans. His approach to business ethics is focused on the role
and responsibilities of the individual within a corporate community with collective goals and a
stated mission (NE II.2, 1103a1). Greek philosophers believed that happiness meant much more
than to experience pleasure or satisfaction. They thought virtues were qualities that made a
persons life excellent and did not stop their thinking at the moral virtues. They included other
virtues such as wisdom in their philosophies.
Virtues are a characteristic that has a state in purpose and action. The moral virtue is an
example of a good purpose. It chooses a median between too much and too little. They are means

Allen, Reginald E. 2006. Greek philosophy: Thales to Aristotle.1104.

between a passion and action. There is no right amount in anything such as murder. He believes
that some kinds of actions that are morally wrong in principle.
According to Aristotle, excellence is a condition, which is frequently determined by the
decisions made by human beings. On the other hand, reason shapes excellence and marks the
manner in which people build their wisdom. For this reason, virtuous actions require that a
regular or popular behaviors be observed, which implies following reason. Aristotle continues to
explain that an accurate reason is very imperative in this exactness. There ought to be genuine
logos. To him, the ethical decision that is correct includes picking logos that is directly through a
procedure of consultation, which thus is a right choice. A proper logo is depicted as one that is
goal-oriented. It identifies with the conditions and circumstances that encompass the operators
(NE I.2, 1095b1).5
Reasonability is considered to have a fundamental part of the entire methodology of the
right decision as indicated by Aristotle. In the sensible perspective, a human seeks for origination
that is judicious in the life of an individual. Aristotle suggests that this angle involves little
merchandise including the completion of the scholarly and good abilities of a person. Man is
mindful of the way that the essential good is a righteous movement, which is indispensable in the
commitment towards his own particular great. The specialists are in a position to focus the
distinction thoughts in the ethical values. They want to create the circumstances that present a
chance of practicing a particular ethicalness. The operators are additionally mindful of the way
that there is a prerequisite by the general temperance. Any decision should be made concerning a

Ibid. 1095.

way and there should be a judgment of that way. This entire idea adds up to the ethics postulated
by Aristotle.
According to the text, Aristotles central question was; what is a good life and how can I
live it? The answer to this changed over the time to imply that distinction and happiness were
criteria of a good life. Virtue ethics leads to self-interest not just self-serving fulfillment. He
believed that virtue allowed a person to make a reasonable decision. Possessing a virtue is a
matter of a degree.
He suggests that virtue involves the choice between two extremes: the vice of excess and
the deficiency. Aristotle argues that, the excellence of character and intelligence cannot be
separated. Aristotelian virtues are that we establish practices as a foundation in which we exhibit
virtues. Nicomachean Ethics, began by posing a question why humans act, every skill, and
every inquiry, and similarly every action and rational choice thought to aim at some good; and so
the good been described as that at which everything aims? (NE II.2, 1103b1).6 It implies doing
just actions and making just choices. Aristotle believes that we acquire the moral virtue by
habituation, meaning that in order to become just or the moral we have to perform the same type
of actions. This second type of virtue is the intellectual virtue. It is excellence in reasoning in
thought. Unlike the moral virtue, Aristotle believed that the intellectual virtue is not acquired
through habituation. Instead, he thinks that the intellectual virtue is obtained through instruction.
So, while all it takes to have the moral virtue just to perform acts (within a certain set of
parameters), in order to have intellectual virtue we should be taught the intellectual virtue. It is
this type of virtue, the one that must be taught; that Aristotle believes is the most important in

Allen, Reginald E. 2006. Greek philosophy: Thales to Aristotle. 1103.

living the good life. Aristotle does not suppose that a balanced mix of the moral and the
intellectual virtue is the best way to live ones life, he considers that the life, which is focused on
the intellectual virtue, is the best.
Aristotle postulates that virtues are the mean between two extreme vices. Bravery is a
virtue, nestled between cowardliness and foolhardiness. By acting in the mean, man can escape
both vices and attain actual virtue. Aristotle is careful to note though, that this mean is hardly an
independent function. Different situations call for a different mean. While numerical means are
invariable, mean action will depend on circumstance. This principle of Aristotle is quite
revolutionary, and ties in quite well with modern philosophy. It makes sense for humans to have
strong feelings, to be depressed or to be nihilistic. Intuitively, we, humans, are always aiming for
that mean, although very seldom do we attain it.7 Hence, eternal happiness is difficult to
From this, we can conclude that happiness, the good life, is the exercise of virtue.
However, in order to exercise virtue, says Aristotle, we must have certain internal and external
goods. Internal goods are things such as talent and ability that are distinct from each different
person. Foreign goods, however, can be viewed as the wherewithal to exercise virtue. External
goods can be physical, such as books or money, but they can also be things such as honor, fame,
or respect. Aristotle believes that luck is the only way we can receive these external goods. For
example, in ancient Greek society, social classes were very rigid and if you were not born in a
wealthy or powerful family, it would have been very hard to accumulate any wealth or influence.
Aristotle goes on to say that, the purpose of a government is to decrease the amount of control

Ibid. 1093.

that luck, the acquiring of external goods, plays in each quest of individuals to live the good life.
The philosopher thinks that society should be organized to tame chance. On this point, Aristotle
does not believe that the general happiness of everyone in society should be our goal; he believes
that our ultimate end should be individual happiness.
Eudemonia is something complete and independent. Additionally, as per Aristotle, virtue
is the thing that matters. This is because for happiness are exercises that are opposite to joy. He
expresses that satisfaction is an individual's characteristic of happy life.
He thought only one science can name itself wisdom and that are the one who is
searching for the ultimate truths of life (NE I.2, 1097a1)8. Greek ethics is based on the notion
that not free will or will at all but virtue or goodness is within business ethics. Aristotle thinks
that virtues are habits and not given to anyone at birth, but we can receive and learn to perfection
them. According to him, virtue should be in every business, and the business is for the sake of
living well (NE II.3, 1107a1. Profit should not be the companys ultimate goal in business but the
people. Aristotle believes that it is impossible for a man to act unjustly toward himself because
no one voluntarily wishes for anything that is not good. His belief is that a human does not
choose evil before good things.
Aristotle presumed that a virtue is an educated attitude to reason and acting in a particular
manner. Virtues are propensities for the brain that moves us towards a decent life. Virtue morals,
its most renowned structure from Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics, concentrate on what kind of
individuals we ought to endeavor to be and not simply those things we ought to do on individual

Allen, Reginald E. 2006. Greek philosophy: Thales to Aristotle. 1097.

events. Moral predicaments are circumstances in which there are two decisions to make, neither
of which determines the status in a morally satisfactory style.9
Happiness does not require the additional of external prosperity. That is why some people
associate it with good fortune. The virtues are not emotions because people are not pronounced
good or bad according to our emotions. Rather we are praised or blamed for our virtues.
Therefore, virtue is a settled disposition of the state of the mind determining the choice of actions
or emotions.
Aristotles Nicomachean Ethics has many translations. His moral hypothesis is
teleological as in it contains certain recommendations about the motivation behind a man, his
position in the public eye, and what is appropriate for him. Aristotle believed happiness is the
final destination toward all actions. His virtues are different and divide the soul of a person. The
moral virtue formed through the human habits.
In summary, Aristotle considers that human action is motivated to attain good, but it is
only the highest good that matters. To achieve that highest good, we need good virtues, that are
inculcated through fair habits. Good virtues lie in the way of extreme vices, and this path varies,
depending on the circumstances.10 If a man can find that varying course and act accordingly then
he will find happiness.

Ibid. 1093.
Ibid. 1094.


Allen, Reginald E. 2006. Greek philosophy: Thales to Aristotle