Aristotle maintains that the highest good is ‘happiness’ (‘eudaimonia’ in Greek). Please write an essay about Aristotle’s concept of eduaimonia that answers the following questions: Please ensure that your essay addresses each component of the assigned questions and that your answer is well-organized, uses excellent, college-level prose, and makes judicious use of textual evidence. Your essay should be 600-900 words long. Purchase the answer to view it
Aristotle’s concept of eudaimonia, translated as “happiness” in English, is central to his ethical philosophy. In order to understand his understanding of this term, it is important to explore the different components and dimensions of this concept and how it relates to the highest good. This essay will shed light on Aristotle’s understanding of eudaimonia by addressing the following questions: What does Aristotle mean by eudaimonia? How does it relate to virtue and the function of human beings? What role does reason play in achieving eudaimonia?
To begin, Aristotle’s notion of eudaimonia goes beyond a simple understanding of happiness as mere pleasure or a fleeting emotional state. Eudaimonia is a more profound and enduring state of well-being and flourishing. Aristotle argues that it is the highest good because it is an end in itself, pursued for its own sake, rather than as a means to any other end. In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle writes, “The ultimate end, then, of human acts is happiness” (NE I.7). Happiness, for Aristotle, is the ultimate aim that gives meaning and purpose to human life.
Furthermore, Aristotle believes that eudaimonia is not dependent on external factors, such as wealth, fame, or power. Instead, he argues that true happiness is achieved through the cultivation of virtue. Aristotle defines virtue as the mean between extremes, the balance between excess and deficiency. For example, courage is the virtue that lies between recklessness and cowardice. By cultivating virtue and acting in accordance with reason, individuals can attain eudaimonia.
Aristotle also emphasizes the importance of the proper function or purpose of human beings in achieving eudaimonia. He argues that every entity has a specific function, which is determined by its nature. For human beings, this function is the exercise of reason. Aristotle contends that rational activity is what distinguishes humans from other animals and is the key to achieving eudaimonia. Reason allows individuals to make choices and act in accordance with moral virtue and the highest good.
In line with this view, Aristotle asserts that eudaimonia is not a solitary pursuit but is instead achieved within the context of a community. Human beings are social creatures, and Aristotle believes that the ethical life is best lived in relationships with others. In his Politics, he argues that the city-state, or polis, is the natural environment for human flourishing and the development of virtue. This sense of communal living is necessary for individuals to fully realize their potential and attain eudaimonia.
Reason plays a crucial role in the journey towards eudaimonia. According to Aristotle, reason is what enables individuals to identify and understand the virtues and their accompanying vices, and to make choices accordingly. Reason also helps individuals to strike the right balance between competing desires and impulses, guiding them towards the virtuous mean. Aristotle argues that rationality is an inherent part of human nature and that cultivating the rational faculty is essential for achieving eudaimonia.
However, Aristotle acknowledges that reason alone is not enough to secure eudaimonia. He argues that practical wisdom, or phronesis, is also required. Practical wisdom is the ability to discern the right course of action in specific situations, using reason as a guide. Aristotle asserts that practical wisdom is developed through experience and a careful observation of the world. It involves understanding the particular circumstances and context of a given situation and applying the appropriate virtues and values in making decisions.
In conclusion, Aristotle’s concept of eudaimonia is a multidimensional understanding of happiness that goes beyond mere pleasure. It involves the cultivation of virtue, the exercise of reason, and the fulfillment of the proper function of human beings within society. Eudaimonia is pursued for its own sake and is seen as the ultimate aim and purpose of human life. By striving towards virtuous action and developing practical wisdom, individuals can attain eudaimonia and lead a fulfilling and flourishing existence.