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Ponedeljak, 05 Juli 2021 21:04

Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics discover the nature of human happiness Istaknut

Aristotle in Raphael's 1509 fresco, The School of Athens holds Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle in Raphael's 1509 fresco, The School of Athens holds Nicomachean Ethics

The Nicomachean Ethics has a preeminent role in defining Aristotelian ethics. This work was written around 340 BC and consists of ten books, originally separate scrolls. The title is often assumed to refer to his son Nicomachus, to whom the work was dedicated or who may have edited it. Also, the work may have been dedicated to his father, who was also called Nicomachus. The Nicomachean Ethics is considered one of the most important historical philosophical works. It becomes one of the core works of medieval philosophy and indirectly becomes critical in the development of modern philosophy.

The Nicomachean Ethics is a philosophical inquiry into the nature of the good life for a human being. Aristotle begins this work by positing that there exists the supreme Good toward which, in the final analysis, all human actions ultimately aim. The characteristics of this Good are that it is complete, final, self-sufficient, and continuous. The Good toward which all human actions implicity or explicitly aim is "eudaimonia", which is often translated as happiness, blessedness or living well, and which is a type of activity. A person who is eudaimon is not simply enjoying life, but is enjoying life by living successfully.

Aristotle treats human happiness as an activity of the soul according to reason. This activity is expressed through ethical virtue. The very highest human life, however, consists in the contemplation of the Greek word arête which is often translated as virtue or excellence. Aristotle divided up virtues into two main kinds: intellectual and moral. A person learns intellectual virtues by instruction, and moral virtues learn by habit and constant practice. There are virtues of character: courage (andreia), moderation (sophrosyne), generosity (eleutheriotes), munificence (megaloprepeia), magnanimity (megalopsuchia), mildness (praotes), and justice (dikaiosyne), and others dealing with sociability. Intellectual virtues are scientific knowledge (episteme), craftsmanship (techne), prudence (phronesis), intelligence (nous), wisdom (sophia), understanding (synesis), and sense (gnome).

Aristotle divides the soul into an irrational and a rational part. The irrational part of the soul has two aspects: the vegetative aspect, which deals with nutrition and growth and has little connection to virtue and the appetitive aspect, which governs our impulses. The rational part of the soul controls these impulses. Because of that, a virtuous person with greater rationality is better able to control his impulses.

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