Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics
The ethic of Nichomachean is a philosophical inquiry of a human being’s nature of good life. The work of Aristotle began by laying down the investigation of defining the ‘highest human good’. He started his work by positing the ultimate good towards which the human race eventually aims. As explained by Aristotle, the essential characteristics of the ultimate good are it’s continuous, self-sufficient, final and complete (Pakaluk, 2014). According to Lacewing (2009), the good towards which all actions (either explicitly or implicitly) of human being aim is “eudaimonia,” a Greek name meaning happiness, living well or blessedness. The good in human beings is not a static state but a day to day activity.
In discovering human beings happiness, it is important to determine the functions of humans. According to Pakaluk (2014) the happiness of an individual consists of the fulfilment of its natural function towards the direction of the person’s being. The natural function is specific to every individual, which is important to mankind. Aristotle stated that an individual is principally their own intellect. Although the desired and spirited parts of a soul are essential, the soul’s rational is what is considered as the identity of a person. Therefore, the activity that is solely performed by humankind is intellectual as it is the activity belonging to the soul’s highest part (the rational part) in accordance with reason.
Therefore, human happiness consists of soul’s activity due to reason. Practically, the expression of activity is through ethical virtue, when the action of an individual is directed in accordance with reason. However, the very highest human life is the scrutiny of the greatest good. According to CRISP (2000), ethical virtue “is a habit disposed toward action by deliberate choice, being at the mean relative to us, and defined by reason as a prudent man would define it.” All the elements in the definition are significant.
Virtue is the habit of acting well and not an isolated action. For a deed to be virtuous, the person has to know what he/she is doing, it has to be done deliberately and doing it as a noble action. Ross (1999) explains that in every particular condition, the virtuous action is an average between two extremes. Prudence is essential for ethical virtue as it remains the intellectual virtue through which an individual determines the mean particular for each status quo.
The basic question for ethics is, is “there a universal goal, and if present which is it?” During the search of human life ultimate goal, Aristotle deduced that it takes similar lines. During the beginning of ethics, Aristotle first formulated criteria which he thought must be satisfied by an ultimate goal, where it must be the most preferable, self-efficient and most ultimate. The second identification according to CRISP (2000) was the field of search in the function argument. His argument is that ultimate goal is present among the activities performed by good traits or virtues.
His meaning in the field search is that activity is in harmony with virtue. The third step is Aristotle’s examination of the virtues and their characteristics one by one like justice, generosity and courage. The last factor was generated from supplemental topics, where he applied the original criteria to place his argument that intellectual activity acts as a virtue expression of ‘philosophical wisdom’’ which acts as an ultimate human life goal.
The principles of Aristotle is based on a borrowed principle from Plato known as ‘‘Inter-definability of Goodness, Virtue, and Function.’’ (Lacewing, 2014). This is a good thing of a positive kind which contains virtues that help it in carrying out its function. The second important principle of Aristotle is the close relationship between goods and goals. His belief is that for something to be good it has to be a goal.
Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics is an Invalid Ethical System
Today ethical works may include discussion on duties, obligations, and rights. This is in contrast with Aristotle with ancient philosophies which were chiefly concerned with human’s good life or happiness. According to the Aristotle ethics, the question that human beings should have is what they should do to achieve happiness. His ethics would answer this as a total life that is well lived or eudaimonia. There is more to happiness than a good life and this is a questioning to Aristotle’s work.
His ethics also stress that both good fortune and moral virtue are the driving forces or operative means to achieve partial goods that bring happiness (Pakaluk, 2014). According to his works, moral values are the right desires habits and act as a basis for a common good that leads to balance or moderation of one’s life. According to Aristotle views, virtue has no value but what is of importance is the virtuous actions. He considers virtue as an activity versus attribute, whereby becoming virtuous is comparable to learning a new skill. However, virtue is of important as well as the virtuous attributes.
The Eudaimonia model contains the actions undertaken by an individual in pursuing a life lived well. The basis of eudaimonia is derived from fortune, virtue and good morals. These driving forces are the foundation of his philosophies. The philosophies of Aristotle are like feet and legs which assist an individual in moving for them to pursue happiness. Therefore, irrespective of the philosophy being ancient, Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics forms a baseline for other philosophies.
CRISP, R. (2000). ARISTOTLE Nicomachean Ethics. United Kingdom a: University Press, Cambridge.
Lacewing, M. (2014). Issues of Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics. Routledge: Taylour & Francis Group.retrieved: http://documents.routledge-interactive.s3.amazonaws.com/9781138793934/A22014/ethical_theories/Objections%20to%20Aristotle%27s%20virtue%20ethics.pdf
Pakaluk, M. (2014). Aristlores Nichomachean Ethics Introduction. New York: Cambridge.
Ross. (1999). Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle. Kitchener: Batoche Books.
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