Monday, October 15, 2012


Copyright © 2005 José Cossa

In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle argues that good is “that at which all things aim …that which is complete and self-sufficient… and that which is desired for its own sake.”  He further argues that honor, pleasure, reason, and excellence are highly necessary but not sufficient to be considered the ultimate good; rather, happiness is the ultimate reason for choosing honor, pleasure, reason, and excellence because these we pursue for the sake of happiness.  In my opinion, this view holds together the argument presented by Aristotle in Nichomachean Ethics.

I agree with Aristotle regarding what constitutes the ultimate good, in that it must be something at which all things aim.  Humans aim at many things amongst which is happiness as one of the most important statuses that we wish to attain; however, in my view, happiness is a temporary status and there are other statuses that could be considered the ultimate good.  The perception of the concept good varies from worldview-to-worldview.  For example, for the most part, Christians, Muslims, and Jews will hold the view that the ultimate good is God and being able to reach heaven and live in God’s presence eternally is the only means to reach the good, e.g., the Christian support of this view can be seen in Jesus’ teaching in Mark 10:18.

In discussing how virtue is acquired, Aristotle’s distinction between moral virtue (acquired through habit) and intellectual virtue (acquired through teaching) as well as his argument on moral weakness set him apart from Socrates.  It is true that knowledge and virtue are different because one can possess knowledge yet not be virtuous.  I agree with Aristotle’s distinction between moral virtue and intellectual virtue, but I view them as inseparable and interdependent.  Both types of virtue are acquired through teaching, but teaching as defined in the passing of habits, culture, practices, principles, etc., whether formally or informally.
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