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A Different Perspective on Happiness

Essay by   •  February 24, 2013  •  Research Paper  •  1,450 Words (6 Pages)  •  899 Views

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In The Aim of Man, Aristotle presents concepts and definitions of good, virtues and happiness and ways to achieve them. According to Aristotle, happiness is the one thing that gives mankind purpose and in order to reach it a society must raise moral citizens who must then lead a lifelong, honorable, honest and virtuous life by doing good onto others. Happiness is a more controversial and diverse than Aristotle explains and throughout this paper different perspectives, in contrast to Aristotle's concept of happiness, are offered (World of Ideas).

In The Aim of Man, Aristotle defines happiness as the "chief good" or "final end" of every action and its product of mankind and therefore begins his opening paragraph, explaining his definition of good. He explains that every art and scientific investigation activity and their products aim at achieving something good, and therefore happiness. Unfortunately, scientific research has also led to the development of biological and physical weapons meant to destroy massive amounts of human life (World of Ideas, 694-696). There is no doubt that this fact cannot lead to happiness or be perceived as achieving good. It is questionable if people like Osama Bin Laden feel rather happiness when succeeding in ending their enemies' life than gratification and satisfaction of revenge.

Furthermore, Aristotle speaks of a hierarchy of master and subordinate arts and sciences that all lead to achieving the ultimate end, good, and therefore happiness. He states that the master art is more admirable to attain than its subordinate. He mentions health being the aim of medicine, making weapons the aim of warfare and producing wealth that of domestic economies. All these arts would then be brought together under the main header of statecraft, being the highest good of all by securing a city's, nation's or society's well being and creating citizens that perform good and noble actions (World of Ideas, 694, 703). In the past many scandals in politics, where politicians are trying to create good only for themselves through embezzlements, tax evasion, or fraud have proven us otherwise. In addition to that, all politicians at some point used to be regular citizens that were supposed to be raised by former statecraft to act noble but then got lost on the way of their career.

Aristotle's view seems to house some conflict. He explains that statecraft is the final end to achieve good for itself and all its individuals, and therefore happiness (World of Ideas, 694, 696). However, obviously, there was a need for Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence which was written to protect the people from a government that took advantage of them, their kindness and catered to their own needs, goods and happiness instead of that of its citizen. Even looking at society today, it almost seems more beneficial to engage in nonprofit, nongovernmental charities to provide help, goodness and happiness to other people in need. People do not have a hidden agenda and help because they want to and don't aim at anything else but contributing to other peoples happiness.

Furthermore Aristotle claims that selfless acts such as doing deeds and making other people happy, is the only way to accomplish one self's happiness (. However, one also has to feel happy oneself before being able to deliver it onto others. If you are walking into a room with an awful mood and mimic to match it, trying to pass on happiness will be almost impossible. Therefore, making sure of one's own inner state of well being seems to be essential and is actually everyone's responsibility, before trying to provide it to others.

This fact also appears to apply to another one of Aristotle's theories. According to Aristotle, happiness is the final end or good always chosen for its own sake and never for the sake of something else (World of Ideas 698-699). If one was to make oneself happy in order to be able to pass on happiness to one's children or any person around, and at the same time one would need them being happy in order to feel happy oneself, then it would be hard to determine which one constitutes the final end, and one will have to be chosen for the sake of the other.

Besides, presenting definitions and examples of what is good and how to achieve happiness, Aristotle also claims the

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