Happiness Is Living Virtuously
Name: Phillys Brown
Happiness Is Living Virtuously
The argument put by Aristotle on the virtue of moderation has had a widespread acceptance as a philosophical doctrine. As a matter of fact, knowledge of Greek philosophy is not the reason for the practice of Aristotle’s principle. Striking a balance on our emotions and actions is not only sensible but a wise way to live. In spite of the flaws that the principle has received, it has a strong backing due to the sensible facts it prescribes. In discussing Aristotle’s argument, it is imperative to examine the strengths in relation to the pursuit for happiness. Nevertheless, the main idea is to examine the relationship between happiness and living a virtuous life.
The first thing that Aristotle discusses is the motivation behind every action we undertake- happiness (Engstrong & Whititng 1998, pp. 101-103). Contrary to the motive behind things like honor, intellect as well as pleasure which all lead to something desired, happiness is strived for by all humans for its intrinsic good. In fact, happiness is an ultimate end. Aristotle argues that happiness is a state where there is prosperity of the soul based on proper function of man. He argues that happiness can never be an emotion on motion. “If we define the function of Man as a kind of life, and this life as an activity of soul, or a course of action in conformity with reason, if the function of a good man is such activity or action of a good and noble kind, and if everything is successfully performed when it is performed in accordance with its proper excellence, it follows that the good of Man is an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue” (Gould & Mulvaney 2003, p.170). This clearly demonstrates that happiness is realized by living virtuously.
The reason for the performance of various activities by individuals is influenced by the moral states. In fact, the performance of the activities is dependent upon the predetermined states. However, Aristotle argues that there are certain aspects that are crucial for the activities to correspond to these states. To start with, it is imperative that the agent understands his actions. Secondly, the agent is expected to perform the activity for the sake of already known state and thirdly that the agent does an activity due to an already established moral state within himself. In essence, the action considered virtuous is one done in complete knowledge, voluntarily and for virtue’s sake. From the foregoing, it is highly evident that a moderate act can only be performed by a just person in pursuit of justice.
According to Aristotle virtue comes deliberately. Virtue “is a state of deliberate moral purpose consisting in a mean that is relative to ourselves” (Gould & Mulvaney 2003, p.172). According to him, a man is able to perform an action due to virtue; a moral state conditioning him. According to the level we have put ourselves to be, we perform actions to varying levels. In fact, every individual strives to have a certain level of an action in the measure that is acceptable by their emotions. The principle of moderation as put across by Aristotle clearly comes out as the strongest of all ethical principles. The first reason for this great strength is the fact that it possesses immense common sense. In fact, the principle looks at the real functioning of a man in the society and the motivation for the actions performed.
Contrary to the other principles based on command such as those associated with God and other supernatural beings, Aristotle’s principles are free from dispute and dubious interpretation. Clearly, we see that the reason for us to practice moderation is not because God commands so; it is due to our need to achieve happiness. From the foregoing, our pursuit for virtuous living is not based on fear of punishment, admonishment, excommunication and other forms of corrective measures; it is purely for our own individual needs in life. We want to be happy with ourselves and with life in general; this is only possible by first living virtuously.
Engstrong, S & Whititng, J 1998. Aristotle, Kant, and the Stoics: rethinking happiness and duty, Cambridge University Press, New York.
Gould, JA & Mulvaney, JR 2003. Classic Philosophical Questions, Pearson/Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle.