Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics essay

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Happiness is the main life’s goal for each person.  Nevertheless, states of happiness vary as much as the methods of achievement. Considering a certain aim as the life purpose, an individual use to examine it. A person questions oneself and analyzes ethical points of a certain methods of achievement. Aristotle sees all living things in dynamic in aims and goals, that he calls ends, that could be reached only by the complex web of interaction, that are judged by their capacity to reach the main aim in accordance with mental values (Aristotle, 5).

Virtue is the main initiator of good deeds in human character. A person establishes mental values, intuitively deciding what is main aim he or she wants to achieve, which qualities are the most respectable according to his/her personal point of view, what kind of person he/she wants to become. These qualities influence the person’s decisions during entire lifetime. The choice between impermanent pleasure and ultimate goal is a challenge for individual’s scale of values and each person is about to decide, whether to surrender to the temptation of satisfaction, or to accept limitation in favor of top priority.

To cite an example, a person might refuse to learn, considering education as the discomfort, and consequently, as the thing that cannot make him or her happy. At the same time, for example, communication with his/her friends can make her happy in the moment of socializing, thus it is understood as happiness for her. Nevertheless, the state of happiness is illusionary, as there are no mental investments for future wealth. Dreams and aims needs time and endeavor to be dedicated.

Aristotle mentions three constituent of happiness: pleasure, wealth and honor (Barltett, 244). According to this elements person decides what brings him/her joy, what influences his/her reputation and brings profit. According to this hierarchy, a person decides what to do in a certain situation. 

Pleasure gives immediate satisfaction, but may lead to controversy with the main aim. Aristotle compares pleasure with fatted cattle, whose destiny is predetermined and has nothing in common with its desires and aims (Bartlett, 244). Honor is the receptiveness and objectiveness of actions and decisions. Primarily presented as a political category, honor symbolizes outside perspective, that shows person beneficial and negative impacts of her ethical considerations. Wealth is the happiness of the quality of life, happiness permanently received in every aspect of lifetime. Nevertheless, this constant happiness needs work and time to be dedicated.

The main aim needs work to be done, time and effort to be devoted. Aristotle defines work of a human being as an activity of soul in accord with virtue (Barltett, 246). This explanation means that a person should work to achieve his or her dream, as the natural harmony of the world needs work to be done and gives achievement as a reward, but not as a gift.

Happiness as the individual wealth exists in a human mind in response with ethical understanding of what is virtue and how to develop oneself in accordance with this ideology. Human’s actions that are oriented on a certain top priority consequently leads to pleasure, that differs from material pleasure as more meaningful. Aristotle does not insist on the obligation that each of us should forego all the pleasures, he rather insists on constructive life activities refocusing (Aristotle, 253).

The main concept in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics is the concept of happiness. It is presented in his work as eudemonia, the happiness that can be achieved by personal development of the unity of virtues. In contrary with Aristotle’s theory of a virtuous life, hedonism ceases transitory pleasures as the human happiness. Utilitarian theory of John Mill suggests that quantitative analysis of virtues and pleasure is more likely to show which way to achieve happiness is more meaningful. The main criterion of rightness for hedonistic utilitarism is only empirical (Mill, 117).

John Mill’s theory declares that if things and actions in people’s life, which bring pleasure to majority of them, are more likely to be understood as happiness, rather than virtuous and spiritual things and actions that are unable to bring joy. Implementing this idea, one might suggest that visiting cinema brings more happiness than visiting old relatives. Nevertheless, when the minutes of satisfaction are left in the past, there is no permanent happiness achieved.     

Aristotle maintains a firm grip on the appealing idea of a limitation of immediate pleasure strikes the idea, that the thirst always stays unsatisfied, as the thirst for happiness is much deeper than thirst for pleasure.

Nevertheless, Aristotle’s theory of happiness should not be implemented as an eternal sacrifice, because catching the moment an individual can achieve happiness, if the measures are as good and virtuous as the main aim. Rand (46) neglect immediate passion in the same way Aristotle does: “a man desires something does not constitute a proof that the object of his desire is good, nor that its achievement is actually to his interest”.

Rand implements concept “the virtue of selfishness”, which emphasize individually oriented perception of happiness (Rand, 7). Nowadays capitalistic society shares the idea of selfishness. Despite the fact that Rand ceases self-oriented society, she insists that “such values as wealth and knowledge are not given to a person automatically, but have to be discovered and achieved by his own thinking and work” (Rand, 44). For example, two co-workers should present their project to compete on the meeting. One of these workers asks his workmate to reschedule the meeting, as he has serious problems, but the worker decides to present his only work on the meeting, as it is gainful for him, he worked hard for it and he deserves it. Nevertheless, the other worker, who did not show up, deserves it is as much as this man, but his self-oriented philosophy let him act this way, while Aristotle insists on making altruistic decisions. 

Analyzing Aristotle’s works Rand agrees with such statement “Aristotle separates things good for themselves and things useful as means and consider whether the former is good, because it fall under the single idea.” (Den Uyl, 83) Nevertheless, Rand insists on individual achievement of wealth, while Aristotle strains after the harmony between personal wealth and outer world of person.

The harmony is also important in the process of achieving main aims, because the way each person should spend his or her time is often misunderstood. Foregoing the real aim and values, material obsession primarily implemented as the measures for family wealth became the main reason for his existence. In this situation money become an aim itself, getting satisfied with the process of earning money, an individual’s virtues become substituted by misleading ideals, such as greediness and avidity, nevertheless, developing virtues such as family values, a person is capable to thrust aside destructive obsession devoting time to spiritual values.

Living “into the wild” Christopher McCandless neglected imaginary achievements of the modern society: “Career is an invention of 20th century”. However, this concept was primarily developed by Thoreau in his work Walden, in which dissocialized person learns to feel real emotions instead of imaginary, discovers personal possibilities and get close to the nature. In other words, achievements and aims should be real and natural, but not formed by technocratic consuming society. “Happiness is only real when shared” – that’s the main idea, Christopher came up with at the end of the film “Into the Wild”. Aristotle, Rand and Mill talked about emotions and achievements, but what is really important for happiness is love and family. 

To sum up, it should be mentioned that the main barrier in the achievement of happiness lies in the misbalance between desires, world views and actions of individuals. Being obsessed by achieving material benefits, a person loses the ability to enjoy with the benefits to which his or her earnings targets. Financial wealth actually displaces achievements of pleasure and spiritual values, which should play a major role.

Nevertheless, Aristotle underlines the importance for each person to be satisfied by the process of achievement, as the balance between desire and sacrifice. An individual should also live in harmony with other people, taking into account their desires and wealth. Virtue as the main category of happiness revives good qualities of character and self-development. Such constituents as motivation and virtue forms harmony in the achievement of the main aim and the strength of will help to avoid temptation. Nevertheless, the real happiness is possible only when achievements and goals are shared with beloved people.

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