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Aristotle’s Eudaimonia

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Essay title: Aristotle’s Eudaimonia


Eudaimonia stands for happiness in Greek. Aristotle argues that the highest good for human beings is happiness. He insists that every action performed by humans is to pursue happiness. Aristotle also argues that human action is always aimed at some end or good. This "good" may not be viewed as a good action or any good by others, but for the doer of the action ("good"), the activity will be perceived as good and that it will bring a favorable outcome. Aristotle also said that all of our actions resulting in ends or goods form a hierarchy. This hierarchy, incorporates a ladder of things, and this ladder would categorize things according to their importance. And the most important thing would be on top of the ladder, thus being the ultimate end. This ultimate end is what all the actions aim to reach at or achieve. [This end must be self-sufficient, it must be attainable and it must be what we want]1. Therefore, because happiness includes all these, then it must be the highest good. An example of this ladder could be a person working hard to lose weight or trying to stay in shape. The bottom step of the ladder is the person working out in a gym, but why is the person working out? To lose weight or maintain their shape. Why does the person want to lose weight or maintain their shape? To look good physically and to be healthy. Why does the person want to look good or be healthy? To be attractive and to lead a stress-less and a comfortable life. And why does the person want to be attractive and/or lead a healthy life? To have peace of mind and to be happy. This example shows that every action is aimed at some end and the ultimate end to the action is happiness. Therefore based on the circumstances, the highest good is happiness and happiness alone.

For Aristotle, happiness was not simply the happiness defined as being cheerful, content or just temporary joy and pleasure. He defined eudaimonia as being a state of well-being, doing good actions and living well. A state of well-being or living well can be perceived as being different things such as being wealthy, honorable or possessing admirable virtues. A sick person might wish for good health and a less fortunate for monetary benefits but, Aristotle believed that those wishes/wants fail to achieve the highest status. Aristotle divided life into three main categories: the first consisted of people who identified happiness as sensual pleasure. According to Aristotle, it was ["vulgar and revealed a slavish bestial mentality". The second category was of cultivated and people of affairs seeking honor achieved through political activity. Those people associated honor and virtue with happiness. The third classification belonged to the life of study and business people or money-makers. For those people, wealth was the source of happiness]2. However, Aristotle believed that neither of these achieved the highest status. He said that those things were imperfect by themselves because they were not permanent. An honorable person can possess different virtues but may not exercise the virtues for different reasons. Therefore that particular person can not be called a happy person. And a business man's life devoted to acquiring wealth, can not be called a happy life because it comes with many constraints. And thus, the wealth in itself is not an admirable source of happiness and that is the reason for it not being able to achieve the highest status as opposed to happiness. [Happiness is regarded self-sufficient all by itself, makes a life choiceworthy, it lacks nothing and it is the end of the things pursued in action]3.

Aristotle also attaches a special function to human beings. This special function, he denotes life as being an activity. It is the soul's activity that expresses reason or requires reason, he says. When every action is completed well, its completion expresses the proper virtue associated with the job. And through the soul's activity,

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