What We Don 't Talk About Service

Decent Essays
As one of the fundamental texts in the discussion of ethics, Nicomachean Ethics outlines Aristotle’s idea of eudaimonia, as the ultimate goal of a good and successful human life, achieved through habitual practices of moral virtues. Unlike a contemporary understanding of happiness (a type of feeling), happiness to the Greeks was an “activity of soul” - a reflection of a person’s position in the community and mindfully acting to live in a good way (happiness as an action). In “What We Don’t Talk About When We Don’t Talk About Service,” Adam Davis discusses a modern application of these “good” actions using the topic of service. Similar to Aristotle’s concern of the motivations behind human happiness and striving to reach a state of…show more content…
Aristotle argues, however, that to reach this final state of happiness, a person must live in accordance with appropriate virtues, so happiness cannot be found in vulgar and political lives but only in a contemplative life. He explains this idea by isolating humans to their special roles. Just like objects have specific functions (i.e. knives are used to cut things), “for all things that have a function or activity, the good and the “well” is thought to reside in the function, so would it seem to be for man, if he has a function.” Aristotle claims that humans, too, have a specific function: to exercise rational thought, which is a uniquely human quality. Thus, people are only able to achieve their final state of happiness through a habitual practice of areté or virtue, which is a person’s ability to actively contribute to society by using his or her individual capacity for reasoning. Only through this practice of excellence, then, can humans flourish to eudaimonia. In modern society, acts of service can be considered an example of a “good” that Aristotle describes - one that fulfills a person’s role in the society and contributes to the thriving of the community. People usually say
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