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The Virtuous Life Importance Essay

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Updated: Oct 20th, 2020

Aristotle tells us the highest human good must meet the following two criteria: it is complete, meaning it is desirable solely for its own sake, and it is self-sufficient, meaning it lacks nothing. Among the suggestions he considers for what might be the highest good, including wealth, honor, and pleasure, only happiness meets both of these criteria. Therefore, happiness must be the highest good.

Aristotle’s conclusion that happiness meets both criteria is supported by reflecting on our ordinary attitudes about happiness. Regarding the first criterion, it does seem wrong to say that someone could be seeking happiness instrumentally. It is difficult to understand how someone could want happiness for any reason other than its own intrinsic properties. Furthermore, happiness, when offered an explanation for an action, puts an end to all chains of reasoning. If someone explains why he is doing something by saying that it would make him happy, no further reasons are necessary. If we wish to understand the nature of happiness, we need to learn about virtue, which involves the state of a person’s soul.

Aristotle’s idea is that one element in the soul is irrational, and the other has a rational principle. Since there are two elements the soul consists of, there are two corresponding kinds of virtue, one relating to the intellect and the other to one’s character. Therefore, happiness requires one to possess moral and intellectual virtue, both of which mutually reinforce each other. On the other hand, having a virtuous soul is not sufficient for happiness.

The virtuous person must also be sufficiently equipped with external goods, such as money, health, an attractive physique, good friends and family, and a certain amount of good fortune. All virtuous people avoid both excess and defect, and they strive for moderation in their feelings and actions. Aristotle’s view implies that feeling our emotions moderately is essential for achieving virtue and living well. He views the emotions as an essential part of reacting in the right way to a situation, and Aristotle’s view reflects our commonsense intuitions.

The distinct virtues never stand-alone nor, with the exception of justice and honesty, are good without qualification. All the several virtues are expressions of conscientiousness and a sense of responsibility. It may be supposed that justice and honesty as the one unqualifiedly moral virtue, could fulfill the role of the fundamental virtue as it can also be noticed in the case of righteousness, the general intention to do whatever is right (Allen 98).

Another important virtue is magnificence. It is the virtue of proper public spending on a large scale. We are reluctant to call it a moral virtue, and there are two reasons for that. First, it is explicitly limited to the rich. Second, the forms of excess and defect that characterize the analogous vices seem even more clearly not to be moral failings, but lapses of taste. Magnificence is not a moral virtue, and the magnificent person demonstrates the proper sense of taste and decisiveness, but barely moral inspiration. An analogous situation can be seen with the others amongst Aristotle’s virtues, but magnificence displays the print vibrantly.

Aristotle is really concerned about the virtues that he takes to be basic – courage, temperance, justice, and practical wisdom. Aristotle clearly regards his account of virtue as applying to justice and magnificence alike (Engstrom and Whiting 243). All these virtues fit together into the fundamental virtue that informs and truly unites the others, justice included, by differentiating itself into them, is, therefore, self-dedication to whatever is good and right, which is a characteristic of a good character.

The author personally believes that the happiness of an individual is controlled by virtuous activity and is a kind of activity itself. In order to form a perfect character, the virtues have to be balanced perfectly. Happiness is an essential part of a perfect character. It is true that virtuous activity can be part of happiness only if one also has conventional goods since happiness requires both. Nevertheless, the measure of conventional goods is not what we should consider in judging whether life is happy (Russell 110).

It is an undeniable fact that our happiness depends in part on such things as the fertility and attractiveness of our bodies, our social position, our material resources, and so on. On the other hand, we are also individuals whose happiness depends not just on how things turn out for us but, crucially, on how we act and lead our lives. One has to remember that the virtues should be cultivated and developed as one is not born with those but acquires them throughout the lifetime. The author would like to state that virtuous activities and the other goods that are distinct from each other contribute to happiness in distinct ways. It is suggested to understand the bodily and external goods that are parts of one’s happiness as parts of the self, that acts, and thus as parts of the virtuous activity in which happiness consists.

Works Cited

Allen, R. T. Ethics as Scales of Forms. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2014. Print.

Engstrom, Stephen, and Jennifer Whiting. Aristotle, Kant, and the Stoics: Rethinking Happiness and Duty. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998. Print.

Russell, Daniel C. Happiness for Humans. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2012. Print.

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