Is Aristotle’s Idea of Happiness the Same as Today’s?

Lindsey Heier- Honorbound- period 2

Many people think happiness is something that takes an entire lifetime to find and achieve. It is something we desire to have and it leads to our final end according to Aristotle when he says “happiness is believed to be the most desired thing in the world… happiness is something final and self-sufficing, and is the end of all that man does.”[i] Some people think money can buy happiness but Aristotle’s understanding of happiness is different from what those people believe to be true. Aristotle creates the understanding of happiness as an activity of soul according to perfect virtue. In layman’s terms, happiness is living one’s life full of reason and purpose. To some people, this understanding of happiness still does not make sense and that is why Aristotle expands more on his thoughts in one of his most attributed works, The Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotle outlines virtues as being “the good of man and the happiness of man that we started to seek.”[ii] Virtue is not just an isolated act but it is the habit of acting well. It is something we are not born with but rather something we are taught and we learn as we grow up and get experience in life. Through Aristotle’s views on virtue, it is clear that money and riches do not play as a factor of finding the state of man’s happiness: “though good fortune is needed to complete man’s life, yet it is the excellent employment of his powers that constitutes his happiness.”[iii] To put Aristotle’s thoughts into words we can understand today, happiness is not just something you achieve but instead it is a state of being. Happiness does not derive from money but rather the virtues you practice.

Now that the summary of Aristotle’s thoughts have been made, a question poses itself. Is Aristotle’s interpretations about happiness, as well as virtues and money, relevant and true in today’s world? A very reliable source to measure happiness is the World Happiness Report. The report is published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. It ranks over one hundred and fifty countries by their happiness levels. The measurements are found from experts in many different fields like economics, psychology, and health. Using information from these fields, plus many more, the report explains the happiness in the world today along with personal and national demands to be happy. In the World Happiness Report 2016 Update, it is said “happiness provides a broader measure of well-being than separate accountings of income, health status, and the quality of the social context…”[iv] The arguments provided in this year’s report agree with Aristotle in saying that happiness comes from a person’s well-being.

Aristotle’s beliefs are some that are still debated over and sought after to this day. He believes that everything we do in life leads to happiness and it is something that we must earn. I think Aristotle’s concepts are still relevant today about happiness coming from virtues and it being something we all hope to achieve by the end of our life.

 

 

[i] Aristotle. The Nicomachean Ethics. Print.

[ii] Aristotle. The Nicomachean Ethics. Print.

[iii] Aristotle. The Nicomachean Ethics. Print.

[iv] Sachs, J., Becchetti, L., & Annett, A. (2016). World Happiness Report 2016, Special Rome Edition (Vol. II). New York: Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

 

Works Cited

Aristotle. The Nicomachean Ethics. Print.

Sachs, J., Becchetti, L., & Annett, A. (2016). World Happiness Report 2016, Special Rome Edition (Vol. II). New York: Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

 

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