Aristotle: Virtue and Happiness Essay

Submitted By shenaedennard
Words: 534
Pages: 3

Is Aristotle right in thinking that there can be a good life that can be defined for all humans generally? If not, why do we think that certain lives (like those of great humanitarians) are more worth living than other lives (like those of career criminals)?
Defining happiness can seem as elusive as achieving it. We want to be happy, and we can say whether we are or not, but for all can it really be defined? And can we use this learning to become happier? Aristotle believes that there can be a good life that can be defined for all humans generally: The Good Life, a life, or happiness.
Aristotle begins with the claim that every activity aims at some end. This claim is straightforward meaning that everything you do you do for some purpose. So, Aristotle notes, just about all things are not only pursued for the sake of something else, but the 'something else' itself is pursued for the sake of still yet some other thing. Does this continue on to infinity? Is there ever an endpoint? Is there anything that we pursue for the sake of itself and not for the sake of some further thing or end? Aristotle thinks there is one thing that fits this description: happiness.
If the pursuit of happiness is never pursued for the sake of some other thing, then according to Aristotle it is the "highest of all goods" or the "complete good" or the "good that is self-sufficient". That means happiness is an “end in itself” in Kantian terms. Is Aristotle right? Think about it. Take any activity, and if we ask "what for?" eventually we will reach happiness as the ultimate goal, and then stop.
According to Aristotle, all activities if we proceed on to ask "why?"; (a) have happiness as their eventual aim and goal, and (b) Happiness itself is the final goal, so it never serves itself as an activity for some other end. So since happiness is the only thing we pursue for itself, it