Aristotle on Nobility and Pleasure
“The lovers of what is noble find pleasant the things that are by nature pleasant; and virtuous actions are such; Their life, therefore, has no further need of pleasure as a sort of adventitious charm, but has pleasure In Itself. ” Ethics, 1. 8 Aristotle was a student under Plato, and although he did not believe In the metaphysical Forms that Plato so firmly believed in, he did apply an element of the theory behind the Forms.Instead, what Aristotle postulated was that there was some ultimate, some final goal to which we all reach, but instead of being some unattainable goal, it was very simple: happiness. Happiness manifests itself in all of our actions, whether it’s a conscious process or not, but when we are truly happy is when we do things that are virtuous and honorable. And instead of being some latent part of another goal, Aristotle stated that happiness was the goal, that there was no higher form to achieve beyond.
In chapter seven of Book One, Aristotle is almost vague as he tries and defines what happiness Is, and more importantly, why happiness Is crucial to the human function, and In fact states that “nor should we demand to know a casual explanation In all matters alike” (1 Bibb). Comparing It to simple truths that are a prior’, like when dealing with fundamental principles, he admits that it cannot be defined so easily nor so quickly. He then struggles, in chapter eight, to define happiness. It is, according to him, a kind of “good life and well-being;” virtue precludes action as well as thought.It is also synonymous with virtue: even though virtuous acts are, in general, “not pleasant by nature C] men who love what is noble derive pleasure from what is naturally pleasant” (AAA). Aristotle also makes a clear separation of happiness that is god-given Moisakos C] and a peppiness that is produced through human effort and virtue, denudation. But it seems as if there Is an Inherent flaw in his outlook for those who are not blesses with Moisakos and lack the means (political connections, wealth, stature, et cetera) to carry out an action that would make someone happy.
In chapter ten, he even goes so far as to ask If a man could truly be called happy In his lifetime, because “many changes and all kinds of contingencies will befall a man in the course of his life. ” It’s impossible to think that a situation that would be outside of his mean would not present itself at some point. Aristotle argues that because actions that are consistent with virtue are the most stable of all the human functions, and thus even though different situations to which he cannot answer may befall him, they are misfortunes and do not hold the same attribute of permanence which defines virtue (and hence, happiness).He does concede that these situations 0 misfortunes or fortunes as they may be C] do make life more attractive, or mar its attractiveness, and affect happiness on a slightly superficial level, but Aristotle Is quick to point out that because virtue Is permanent, that It shines through regardless of the situation If the man Is truly riotous. There are some Instances In which the theory might seem not to be dollars might be very happy indeed with all his newfound wealth. But I think superficial happiness.Eventually, there are numerous things that would alter his happiness: the derivation of the money, his ethics and how he either has none or has overrun them in search of material wealth, and so forth.
By analyzing how he received the money, the thief is forced to face not only how he is unscrupulous enough he is to have taken the money from innocent people, but also the fact that he has abandoned all of his morals that would normally prevent him from stealing. The hypothetical example of the thief is slightly misleading, though; because of the way that Aristotle defines happiness.In the given situation, the thief collects money so he can theoretically spend it on material goods and so forth, so the cycle continues a little more. According to Aristotle, happiness does not require anything further: it is an end to itself. A better example might instead be the case of a man who enters a burning house to save an infant. Although he might indeed get recognition and be seen as a hero, Aristotle argues that the real reason that the man goes into the fire is cause it is the right thing to do. And the right thing to do 0 the noble thing to do also equates to happiness.
Although the man might have varied motivations to save the child, all the potential motivations can be traced back to one, leading and all- encompassing desire, the desire to be happy. One might also point out a case in which being honest or virtuous would seem to bring unhappiness. For instance, a person who has forgotten to declare something she has to pay taxes for, but has gotten away with it. She could either not bring herself to attention, and save undress of dollars, or be honest and report the error and pay the bill.It would seem that the latter option would actually bring stress and unhappiness, contrary to what Aristotle claims. Yet, if you look further, although the woman might eat cold baked beans out of a tin and wish she’d been dishonest, in the long run, she’ll be able to look back and appreciate her honesty and feel good about herself for not abandoning her morals. And this is exactly what Aristotle is saying; that you can be happy simply for being honest.
No other ulterior motive, Just for the sheer happiness of being able to stand by what you believe in.No other quality or human characteristic can inspire so much in its own defense, nor is any other characteristic so constant. In conclusion, although Aristotle strains to define happiness and what it encompasses, he does set parameters that define it as a way of life, not Just morality in thought or belief. Happiness is synonymous with virtue, and both preclude action as well as thought. However, if you are virtuous, then your happiness will supersede any possible misfortunes you may have in life and the permanence of virtue will override the temporary sways of the consequences of misfortune and or fortune.