Essay on Happiness in Aristotle’s work: The Nicomachean Ethics

629 Words 3 Pages
Aristotle’s work, The Nicomachean Ethics, consists of numerous books pertaining to Aristotle’s Ethics—the ethics of the good life. The first book discloses Aristotle’s belief on moral philosophy and the correlation between virtue and happiness.
The definition of happiness has long been disputed. According to Aristotle, happiness is the highest good and the ultimate end goal—for it is self-reliant. This idea contradicted other common beliefs and philosophical theories. Aristotle opens his work by describing the various theories, neutrally examines each idea, and discloses how he thinks the theory is wrong and why his idea of happiness is more accurate.
The most accepted theory until Aristotle was that of Plato—that good was a universal idea. Aristotle rejects the idea of universal happiness by explaining how Plato does not incorporate the large number of variants. Other common factors associated with happiness were wealth, pleasure, knowledge, and honor. The general idea that happiness is a result of the wealth is skewed from reality; wealth is merely a means to happiness, not actual happiness. Happiness through pleasure fails to include the variants, thus Aristotle labels it wrong.
Aristotle then disapproves the common mistake of comparing personal happiness to a pleasurable state of mind. However, if this was true happiness would be a mental state and one would be happy while sleeping (1098b32-1099a3). Similarly, many associate honor and politics with happiness. Again…