Thursday, April 28, 2016
In my second installment I’m going to explain more about what Aristotle meant by reaching the end goal of happiness. Aristotle uses a view of nature. He says if we look at nature we can notice four different things that each are defined by a different purpose. Rocks, metals and other lifeless things. The only goal which these things seek is to come to a rest. They are “beyond stupid” since they are inanimate objects with no soul. Plants and other wildlife. Here we see a new kind of thing that is alive. Because plants seek nourishment and growth, they have souls and can be even said to be satisfied when they attain these goals. Animals: all the creatures we study as belonging to the animal kingdom. Here we see a higher level of life emerge: animals seek pleasure and reproduction, and we can talk about a happy or sad dog. Then humans but, what is it that makes human beings different from the rest of the animal kingdom? Aristotle answer’s only humans are capable of acting according to principles, and in so doing taking responsibility for their choices. We can blame Michael for stealing the food since he knows it is wrong, but we wouldn’t blame an animal since it doesn’t know any better. “The function of man is to live a certain kind of life, and this activity implies a rational principle, and the function of a good man is the good and noble performance of these, and if any action is well performed it is performed in accord with the appropriate excellence: if this is the case, then happiness turns out to be an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue.” (Nicomachean Ethics, 1098a13). As I mentioned in my last report virtue is “a good moral character”. So it is no secret we our responsible for the choices we make and by choosing the correct ones be are perfecting our virtue which in turn is helping us achieve our goal of happiness. Yet this is an ongoing process. Remember you can’t measure a man’s happiness until he has fully lived his life. Until death we cannot claim one has reached the goal of happiness. Friendship is another important virtue according to Aristotle. A great friendship contains of one wishing upon the other for their best. No matter of utility or pleasure. This also like anything requires time and practice. Aristotle says you cannot have a lot of friends if you expect to have a virtuous friendship because of the amount of time and care it requires. I think of this more or less as a husband or wife and a few of your closest friends when you get older. It tends to make more sense that way. If we are married our spouse should be our first concern at all times and vice versa. This would prove to be a virtuous friendship. Happiness is the perfection of human nature. Since man is a rational animal, human happiness depends on the exercise of his reason. Happiness depends on acquiring a moral character, where one displays the virtues of courage, generosity, justice, friendship, and citizenship in one’s life. These virtues involve striking a balance or “mean” between an excess and a deficiency.