Aristotle is one of the greatest of the
Aristotle is one of the greatest of the
ancient Athenian philosophers who lived between (384-322 BC). He was a student
of Plato and later became the teacher of Alexander the Great. Aristotle is
renowned for great contribution in philosophy and other fields like physics,
biology, and ethics. One of the most influential works of Aristotle was the
Nicomachean Ethics where he introduces a theory of happiness. Thus, this paper
will focus on Aristotle’s theory of happiness and compare it to the modern day
perception of happiness.
According to Aristotle happiness is
the end or goal that encompasses the totality f one’s life. Therefore,
happiness is not something that can be gained or lost within a short duration
of time like pleasurable sensations. In other words, it is the ultimate value
of one’s life as lived up to the current moment measuring how well one has
lived to their full potential as a human being. Aristotle has gone ahead to
distinguish his definition of happiness from other definitions by introducing
the concept of virtue. He enshrines happiness as a goal in itself and also as a
core purpose of human life. Another distinction that emanates from this
definition is that of the modern conception of happiness. The current
definition of happiness is that it is viewed as the subjective state of the
mind. In this case, an instance of happiness can come about when one is
enjoying himself with a cold soft drink on a hot day.
Happiness according to this article
refers to the state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from
contentment to intense joy. It can also refer to the emotions experienced when
one is in a state of well being. The definition is different from that of
Aristotle in that this one focuses on the emotions experienced at one point in
time. On the other hand, the definition of Aristotle tends to focus on the life
of the individual in general and emphasizes on the totality of life. This view
is demonstrated when Aristotle compares the two scenarios that as one swallow
or one fine day cannot make a spring so is one day nor a short time enough to
make a man blessed or happy.
Aristotle view of happiness is
typically different from the way happiness is perceived today. From the onset,
for Aristotle happiness is the ultimate goal and purpose of human life. To the
modern world, it is a short term period of contentment and intense joy. It
contrasts Aristotle’s view which advances the argument that it is not just a
temporary state; it is achieved at the end of one’s life. Another distinguishing
feature of Aristotle’s happiness is that it depends on acquiring moral
character where it calls for the display of various virtues like generosity,
courage, justice, friendship and citizenship (Hutchinson 11). It is the perfection of human nature
thus involves striking a mean or balance between an excess and deficiency. In
the modern world, this case is different because people derive happiness from
engaging in excess behavior thus failing to strike a balance.
Aristotle’s conception of happiness
and virtue is not relevant in today’s world because people have been unable to
live up to the virtues proposed by him to achieve happiness. For example,
Aristotle notes that one of the most important attributes of achieving the goal
of happiness is friendship. He says that friendship based on virtue is one that
requires an individual to wish good for their friends regardless of pleasure or
utility. In the society today, such people are absent therefore failing to live
up to Aristotle’s version of happiness. If this kind of happiness were to
exist, then the world would be a beautiful place to reside. Heinous acts such
as terrorism, genocides and cyber bullying afflicting the world today could not
have been present as they are common.
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