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Chapter 1- Ethical Theories- Aristotle: Happiness and Virtue March 1, 2009

Filed under: itethic — hikaru011 @ 2:54 pm
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Otsuka Hikaru

ITETHIC

Book: Contemporary Moral Problems

Book Review: Chapter 1- Ethical Theories- Aristotle: Happiness and Virtue

Library Reference: N/A

Internet Reference: N/A

Learning Expectation:

  • I expect to learn Aristotle’s definition of happiness
  • Aristotelian Mean

Quote:

“Aristotle argues that all human beings seek happiness, and that happiness is not pleasure, honor, or wealth, but an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue. Virtue is of two kinds: moral and intellectual. Moral virtue comes from training and habit, and generally is a state of character that is a mean between vices of excess and deficiency. For example, Aristotle portrays the virtue of courage as a mean between the extremes of rashness, an excess, and cowardice, a deficiency. Intellectual virtue produces the most perfect happiness and is found un the activity od reason or contemplation.”

Book Review:

For Aristotle, happiness is an activity of the soul. Happiness is not measured because of wealth, fame but rather happiness is living your life with virtue. For most of us, happiness means living al life that is easy. By having money, and extravagant things, we can be happy. For Aristotle, the definition of happiness does not depend on material things. Happiness depends on self fulfillment and happiness in accordance with virtue. According to Aristotle, moral virtue comes from training and habit, and generally is a state of character that is mean between the vices of excess and deficiency. An example given in the reading is that the virtue of courage as a mean between the extremes of rashness, an excess, and cowardice, a deficiency.

I remember one topic that we discussed that covers the Aristotelian Mean. It was about Natalie Dylan, a girl who auctioned her virginity so that she can earn money for tuition. When you study her situation, Natalie Dylan values her education. She pays a lot of attention with her studies but due to lack of financial resources, she decided to sell her virginity online. The highest bidder will have her virginity. Her sister went to a prostitution house for about 3 weeks so that she could earn money for tuition also. I believe what they both did is for the sake of their education. But when you apply the Aristotelian Mean, when you think about the extreme, Natalie will get a lot of money but she will have to forsake her virginity. If she did not do it, she will not be able to continue her studies. When you consider the mean of the situation, she can continue her studies without giving up her virginity by finding a decent job in a coffee shop, fast food restaurants, etc.

Integrative Questions:

  1. What is happiness according to Aristotle?
  2. What is virtue?
  3. What are two kinds of virtue?
  4. Is having wealth and fortune defines happiness?
  5. What is Aristotelian Mean?

What I have learned:

Happiness is not all about material things. Happiness is all about self fulfillment for it is an activity of the soul. Happiness should be in accordance with virtue.

Review Questions

1. What is happiness, according to Aristotle? How is it related to virtue? How is it related to pleasure?

“All human being seeks happiness, and happiness is not pleasure, honor or wealth, but an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue.” According to Aristotle, happiness has a deeper meaning. It is not just having a luxurious life but rather it is about self fulfillment. Happiness comes with virtue. Virtue has two kinds: Moral and Intellectual. Moral virtue comes from training and habit while intellectual virtue is found in the activity of reason and contemplation. Intellectual virtue is said to be producing the most perfect happiness.

2. How does Aristotle explain moral virtue?

Moral virtue comes from training and habit, and generally is a state of character that is mean between the vices of excess and deficiency. An example given in the reading is that the virtue of courage as a mean between the extremes of rashness, an excess, and cowardice, a deficiency.

3. Is it possible for everyone in our society to be happy as Aristotle explains it? If not, who cannot be happy?

Yes, it is possible for everyone to be happy. It depends on how a person defines happiness. Some people believe that happiness is pleasure, wealth and honor, while others think that happiness is self subsistent.

Discussion Questions

1. Aristotle characterizes a life of pleasure as suitable for beasts. But what, if anything, is wrong with a life of pleasure?

Most men prefer a life suitable for the beast. The life of pleasure. For example, the life of money-making. Wealth is evidently not the good we’re seeking because it is useless and it is for the sake of something else.

2. Aristotle claims that the philosopher will be happier than anyone else. Why is this? Do you agree or not?

“Happy man lives well and does well”. According to Aristotle, philosophers already practically defined happiness as a sort of good life and good action.

I do not agree that philosophers will be happier than anyone else. For me, happiness depends on what you believe in. If happiness for you means having an extravagant life, well that’s your happiness. If you believe in other’s definition of happiness and it does not make you happy, so why should you bother contemplating. Why don’t you just live your life the way you want it to be and stick for what you believe in?

 

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