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Currently studying Nicomachean Ethics

  1. Jan 20, 2006 #1

    Im currently studying Nicomachean Ethics, and was wondering someone can help me out with this question. I'm actually an Electrical Engineering major, so obviously Im not very good with this philosophy thing. If anyone could help me, it would greatly be appreciated.

    According to Aristotle, what kind of life will make a man achieve his highest goal of happiness? Why does he think this?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 20, 2006 #2

    Les Sleeth

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    Aristotle's idea is that the things we do are all working toward some good (what's good for us). So "good' is what makes us happy. Nicomachean Ethics are virtues Aristotle believed make humans most happy. He runs through various activities most humans are involved in, and then suggests how each can be practiced to produce good. In the end he concludes that of all activities, contemplative reason is the highest good. Considering the tradition he's within, and that all his work is the result of contemplative reason, it is no surprise reason is his choice for the highest good.

    As an aside, it's interesting Aristotle proposes the highest good is realized through activities done for their own sake and not as a means to some other goal. Yet according to Aristotle happiness in all cases is achieved by other activities; so it seems that Aristotle cannot offer us a philosophy which allows us to achieve what he claims is "highest" (i.e., because he suggests no way to directly experience happiness).

    One might contrast Aristotle's view to the aspect of Indian philosophy which claims there actually is a direct route to happiness. That is, within each of us is an experience which we can develop, and that experience is itself bliss. One does not need to do good to experience it, one does not need virtues to experience it. One only needs to know how to experience it.
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