September 5, 2012

Aristotle's "Good"

Throughout The Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle expounds on many principles that are essential to human life, such as happiness, character, choice, and virtue. But it seems to me that all these terms seemed to be couched in the concept of “Good” and “Goodness”. Man cannot achieve any one of the aforementioned principles if he does not first have an understanding of Goodness on which to build. He cannot be virtuous if he does not define for himself what ‘virtue’ is, which must stem from a concept of what is Good for his fellow man. A man cannot have character (by Aristotle’s definition of character) if he does not build upon the knowledge of what is just and Good.  In order to make a choice, a man must have an understanding of what is the Good choice and what is not, regardless of which one he picks. And of course, that by consulting what is Good, one can achieve “true” happiness. In my opinion, nothing of substance can be attained without consulting what is Good, and that all these traits that Aristotle purports must stem from an understanding of Good and Goodness. Without a basic Good, whether it be a Supreme Good like Aristotle debated over the existence of, or a far more simple, individualistic Good, Aristotle’s principles could not exist.

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