Table of Contents
Friendship is an experience that everyone has at least once in the lifetime. According to Aristotle, there are three types of friendship, namely friendship of pleasure, utility and virtue. Friendship of utility comprises of pure usefulness, where one is a friend with someone in order to use him/her for personal benefit. Friendship of pleasure is a relationship, where the fact of being friends brings a mutual benefit of pleasure. Friendship of virtue is the least common type, but the most desirable to encounter. Selfish friendship arises when one decides to be friends with someone just to benefit by it. Such people usually are not interested in any contributing to this relationship. Thus, such friendship is viewed as unjust (Veatch 71). Moreover, such friendship becomes unhealthy to one person at the expense of the other. The first ethical question that needs to be considered is whether it is right to fake a relationship for personal benefit. The second question is what list of virtues and vices Aristotle provide as opposed to our conception of vices and virtues in the modern society.
The Nicomachean Ethics is the name commonly given to Aristotle’s best works of ethics. The works play a pre-eminent role in defining the Aristotelian ethics and consist of ten books that are originally separated into the scrolls. All the information was later dedicated to Aristotle’s son by the lecturers.
The themes of Socratic questions that were discussed in Plato’s works focused on how men should live. Aristotle’s metaphysical work describes how Socrates enhanced the activities of turning philosophy to human question. However, it was only a theory. Additionally, it is not just a contemplation of good living but also a facilitation of living at all.
Politics simply aims at making people and their lives better. However, on the other hand, ethical issues are all about how to make people’s life better, while the politics is the study of perspective of a law giver looking for the benefits of the community.
The Nicomachean Ethics are widely considered as the most important philosophical works that had the greatest impact on European Middle Ages and became one of the core works of historical medieval philosophy. Indirectly, it became the most critical step in the development of modern philosophy, law and theology. Parts of this ethical study are well known for having their own rights in various fields.
The correct approach in studying controversial subjects like politics and ethics involves a discussion of what is just and beautiful. To start with, the society roughly agrees to be true and people gain the same experience in life. From this approach, Aristotle starts by stating that the highest and best thing for human practical thinking is happiness. He argues that happiness is something that is well understood, ever changing, energetic and specifically meant for a human. According to Aristotle, an excellent person should be serious and lead a good life. He asserts that a part of human starting points must involve reasoning of thoughts and speech that eventually make a human being.
From this point, Aristotle opens up a discussion concerning the subject of ethics, a term that he greatly developed. Aristotelian ethics is concerned with making a virtuous character wherever possible. This concept is the ingredient of happiness. Aristotle further describes the sequence and steps that are to be considered when making a virtuous character, and these qualities can only be instilled in a person by the tutor. Thus, this allows for the development of the right habits, which in turn lead to the voluntary maintenance of good characters.
However, Aristotle does not properly equate the personal characters with habits. According to him, a character is taken to be hexis just like health and knowledge. This means that there is a stable disposition that ought to be pursued and maintained with some more efforts. While considering the question in details, good habits are recognized as a precondition of a good character.
Book I: Who Should Study Ethics and How Should It Be Studied?
The given book attempts to define the subject matter and justify the methodology selected by Aristotle in considering his common opinions alongside those of poets and philosophers. Aristotle points out that beautiful and just things investigated by politics involve a great deal of inconsistency and disagreements. Therefore, they are thought to belong to convention other than nature. Therefore, Aristotle demands too much precision to treat the beautiful ones as the just.
Chapter six contains a major digression, where Aristotle questions his friends, who introduced the theory of forms. In so doing, he refers to the theory of Plato and his school of thoughts. The section also explains why ethics do not start from the first principles, which discuss “good” as any global thing. The main discussion presented in chapter one points out the fact that most of people’s aims are just intermediate, and people try to achieve them because it will enhance achievement of higher goals.
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In chapter two, Aristotle asserts that the highest aim of happiness must be similar to that of politics (Aristotle 45). Human political capacity should embrace the aims of higher pursuits in attempts to make all people become good.
Chapter three elaborates on the exactness of the relationship in regard to the types of action. Aristotle further explains that all actions and conclusions may vary in exactness, and therefore they are not universally true and applicable. It is for this reason that a continuous conclusion is made throughout the process, and the conclusion premises are drawn from thre actions that hold conclusions only.
There are several questions that can be raised about Aristotle’s definition of happiness.
First, Aristotle considers definition of happiness in contrast to the old Socratic question concerning happiness as a result of training, or learning, or the divine forces, or even a chance. Aristotle also shares some concepts of learning and taking pains. However, even if not divine, happiness is considered to be one of the most divine things and the most beautiful and greatest chance.
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Aristotle points out that happiness must be considered over a period of life. He argues that a person can be happy at work only when he/she works in a favorable environment and in a complete harmony with the surrounding world. The only misfortunes that limit the comforts of life are the circumstances that do not give ability for something beautiful to enter one’s life.
Book II: Concerning Excellence of Moral Virtue
Aristotle says that when the virtues of thinking require some teaching, time and experience, the virtues of character follow the right habit as a consequence. According to him, the potential for this virtue is naturally determined by humans. However, in some cases, these virtues may not be determined by humans. Aristotle says that people can describe these virtues as something that is destroyed by excess or deficiency.
Chapter five of the given book considers choice, deliberation and willingness as a case that exemplifies not only the virtues, but also by the vices. According to Aristotle, vices and virtues are up to each particular person. This means that although nobody is willingly unhappy, the vices always invoke actions, which are also decided unwillingly by a person (Aristotle 66).
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Considering the teachings of Aristotle, I can say that my views towards happiness differ from his studies. When I think about what makes one’s life happy, I can say that family and friends are the most important for everyone. It has taken me a long time to understand that there is no way to life a full life without them. I love my family and they all love me back. Moreover, they have taught me most of the things I know about living. As for my friends, they taught me much more about myself. I learned from them how to laugh and joke at myself, how to love myself and others, and how to make benefits from my own mistakes. All these people have provided me with so much important things in my life, and I am very thankful for everything they do for me.
Secondly, my knowledge and experience are important in all times. Knowledge is the most crucial thing required to understand how the world works. Moreover, it is the best tool to voice my opinion to the community in order to teach others, give advices, and benefit from it. The other thing from my list of priorities that are aimed towards achieving happiness in life is a work of art. The works of art reveal the inner world of a human being making him/her be less expressed in words. They also help me to define my own character and raise my level of happiness and self-esteem. In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle puts a great emphasis on importance of these things.