Aristotles Philosophy Essay

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The basic idea of Aristotle's work is to enhance our understanding about the 'good' and he describes it as something at which all things aim, which is the end in itself and therefore considered as the highest good. Aristotle describes this highest good as "happiness" which is complete in itself and that should be sought for its own sake. Contrary to Plato's concept, i.e. the source of all goodness in the universe, of whatever form or kind, is an absolute good; Aristotle holds a point-of-view that instead of a sole universal ideal, many kinds of good exist. Good, as a single ideal cannot encompass all different individuals, places and circumstances as "it cannot be something universally present in all cases and single" (31). He reasons this viewpoint through the logic that the notion of good changes with different categories; and Platonic theory of an ideal absolute good cannot be applied to all sciences or disciplines as the standards of good are different for different fields. Aristotle also contests ideal good notion for its practical application, as for a carpenter or doctor the knowledge of this ideal good is of no use as the appropriate good for each means to attain good in their own field, "for a doctor seems not even to study health in this way" but through the healing. He recognises that the practical good is the one that lies within the realms of the human perception and varies in its application. "Therefore, if there is an end for all that we do, this will be the good achievable by action, and if there are more than one, these will be the goods achievable by action" (32).

As for human nature, Aristotle demonstrates that all human beings innately crave for the absolute good that has been previously established as "happiness" by Aristotle. He further clarifies that simply living is not an act limited to human beings, as "life seems to be common even to plants." But higher than this life of growth and nutrition is the experience of sensation, but even this life is shared by brute animals.
The mode of life remains is "an active life of the element," which belongs to the sensible part of man as well as this life finds expression in action. The capacity to reason is the highest ability of human beings. Through their ability to reason, human beings, unlike animals, are able to reach conclusions regarding the nature of things by examining the things further than the physical and sensible level. Aristotle further claims that human beings possess the ability, which is a necessity for morality i.e. the ability of choosing their activities freely. A rational study of human nature is required to discover the end or aim of human life, through examination of highest abilities of human beings. A human being is a social and political being by nature and cannot live in isolation, as is evident through their ability to speak and converse with others and also by their natural craving for friendship, "since man is born for citizenship" (33). Thus, man needs these associations for a good life and good action to achieve happiness, as a "happy man lives well and does well" (34).

Therefore, in Aristotle's opinion, human beings should try to achieve goods of the soul, which is the highest good, in order to be happy. Aristotle declares that there are three divisions of good things: (i) outward or worldly goods, (ii) bodily goods, and (iii) goods of the soul. He asserts that according to this multilateral division, goods of the soul are the actual goods in the highest and completest sense. The other two, goods of external and body are though required for complete happiness but incapable of providing happiness solely. Thus, he defines happiness as an activity of the soul. Aristotle further claims that "some identify happiness with virtue, some with practical wisdom, others with a kind of philosophic wisdom...while others include also external prosperity" (34). He agrees with people who explain happiness as a virtue, because he believes that happiness is an activity….....

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