In this extract, Aristotle argues that happiness is utmost good and the conclusion is what all the human activities ultimately aim. The complexity in this study is that people don’t agree on what makes for a good or happy life. This results in Aristotle definition of the supreme good as an activity of the rational soul in relation with virtue. Aristotle asserts that there is some ultimate good that is both self sufficient and complete, and hence defines this good as happiness.
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Aristotle concludes that human function and action is mainly done or intended for a specific reason and goal. He argues that a man’s happiness can be determined by the functions that are proper to man. It must be part of the practical life of the sane part of man, the soul. Hence, a man’s ultimate good should naturally flow from his proper functions, that is, the active exercise of his soul’s faculties should conform to virtues or excellence. Aristotle views rationality as our distinctive activity, that is, the activity that differentiates us from animals and plants. He goes on to define moral virtue as the disposition to act in the right manner and as a measure between extremes of excesses and deficiency. Moral virtue is primary learnt through practice and habit rather than through instruction and reasoning. Hence, a virtuous individual portrays all of the virtues that makes one exercise the supreme good.
He uses politics in order for people to be virtuous and understand ethics properly. He considers the study of ethics to require the use of practical reasoning that ought to result in actions that conforms to ethical principles. The conclusion of politics is the highest good, and consequently politics must try to cultivate dispositions to decent actions in citizens. Firmly speaking, only human beings with full use of reason can be well thought of being happy, as happiness is action in harmony with rationale.
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