Happiness According To Aristotle

I really want to share with everyone Aristotle's philosophy on happiness. I think it relates somewhat to what Eric (the other one!) wrote in his last post regarding social vs artistic sides and intellectual evolution.

Aristotle essentially says that happiness involves developing reason through interaction with others. Now, by interaction, it is not implied that simply talking about your weekend or what you saw on TV last night will turn you into a philosopher-king. Let me explain.

In greek, the word for happiness is eudaimonia, which almost literally means "energy at work". In the context that this is defined in Politics, we can therefore paint a picture of what Aristotle means in terms of happiness. It is an activity, a being (male and citizen, in the case of Athens, of course). What is important to note is that happiness is not a state. It is not really an emotion. Rather, it is the exertion of the mind in pursuit of virtue and excellence. Therefore, in order to achieve happiness, you must work to achieve the potential of your mind. Aristotle suggests that this can be done through politics and that this would make us more rational beings, but I believe the philosophy could be attached to anything in life. Finally, Aristotle adds that we cannot develop this unless our relationships are conducive (and thus further the interests of the intellectual man).

Much of this complicates itself once you begin looking at virtue itself, as well as reason (ie. as humans, speech refers us to other rational beings, with whom we must deliberate in the pursuit of rational ends and means). Man truly is, by nature, a political animal. Some food for thought...


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