What Does Aristotle Identify as the Ultimate Human Good? Why Does He Select That Condition?

1808 Words Oct 26th, 2008 8 Pages
In the quest to find out what is the ultimate human good, Aristotle dedicated Book 1 of the Nicomachean Ethics to provide an account of what is the ultimate human good, and what it consists of. This essay will examine why Aristotle thinks that eudaimonia (happiness), is the ultimate human good. Through this discussion, we will see Aristotle suggest four central views which are critical to eudaimonia being the ultimate human good. Firstly, one has to live a life according to one’s function. Secondly, natural, virtuous activity is required in order to live a life of happiness. Thirdly, one requires possessing external goods such as wealth, power and friends in order to be happy. Last but not least, in order to live a life of happiness, one …show more content…
7). Once you have happiness, no other good is necessary; this makes happiness the final and greatest good.
In order to come up with a distinct definition of happiness, Aristotle states that one has to determine what the function of a human being is (Ross, Book 1, chap 7). The function of a human being must have something to do with being human; and what sets humanity apart from other species (Ross, Book 1, chap 7). Living is a characteristic that is shared with plants, so that cannot be the function of humans (Ross, Book 1, chap 7). Life perception is shared with animals and cannot be the function of humans either. (Ross, Book 1, chap 7).
Giving us the potential to live a better life is the ability to reason. Therefore, if we use reason well, we live well as human beings (Ross, Book 1, chap 7). With the ability to use reason well over the course of a full life is what happiness consists in (Ross, Book 1, chap 7). Doing anything well requires virtue or excellence, and therefore living well consists in activities caused by the rational soul in accordance with virtue or excellence (Ross, Book 1, chap 7). Aristotle stresses the importance of identifying the function of humans and employing it appropriately according to its proper purpose (Ross, Book 1, chap 7). For example, a baker who decides to become a blacksmith because he