Aristotle's Concept and Definition of Happiness and Virtue

            Who are we? Why are we here? What is our purpose? These are questions that have plagued humanity since the dawn of time. Human nature is a complex and awesome entity that belies explanation at the same time it demands answers; seeks truth and unification as it explains itself with imagery and diversity and more or less plods along, pulling it's cart in search of the elusive and proverbial carrot we call actualization. .

             More often than not the men (and women) we have labeled great have been those who have either sought answers to our questions of existence or those who have pushed the envelope of our capabilities and shown us that the limits to our potential are only as restrictive as we perceive them to be. In our Western experience one of the foremost envelope pushers is Aristotle. Aristotle lived in Greece in the fourth century before the Common Era. He was a student of Plato and wrote numerous volumes on drama, poetry, mathematics, logic, physics, reality and ethics. He personified the definition of philosophy in his love and pursuit of wisdom and knowledge. In this paper I would like to explore Aristotle's explanation of happiness and how happiness relates to his explanation of virtue.

             Happiness, in its current definition, is a somewhat abstract concept. Its pursuit is one of our constitutional tenets, yet to most of us happiness seems to remain slightly out of our grasp. (If only I had more money, more love, more purpose.) We have a tendency to measure our happiness in conjunction with what we possess. Aristotle, on the other hand, defines happiness not as a fulfillment of our bank accounts, stock portfolios and address books, but as fulfillment of our potential as human beings. Aristotle says that a thing (or person) achieves happiness when it does (and does well) what it does best and on a regular basis. Let's start small; let's look at the daisy in my front yard.

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