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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. The daisy began as a seed, which sprouted roots, a stem, some leaves and eventually a bud. The bud grew into a flower and with the help of some birds and bees the flower pollinated and assisted in
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- Nicomachean Ethics; "Virtue, then, is a state of character concerned with choice, lying in a mean, i.e., the mean relative to us, this being determined by a rational principle by which the man of practical wisdom would determine it. Now it is a mean between two vices, that which depends on excess and that which depends on defect; and again it is a mean because the vices respectively fall short of or exceed what is right in both passions and actions, while virtue finds and chooses that which is intermediate."
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his Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle, Henry VIII,
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Aristotle, vice and virtue, Nicomachean Ethics, bank account, human nature, compassion, moderation, flower, vices, Martin Luther King, daisy, Shakespearean sonnet, anorexia nervosa, abstract concept, human beings, more money, Those things, more love, Don Quixote, Common Era, inner peace, controlled substances, ancient greek, practical wisdom, talk shows, common sense, explanation, public opinion, perfect body, a flower, envelope, one thing, explains, experience, questions, actualization, proverbial, stock, gluttony, pollinated, nourishing, hefty, restrictive, arduous, mentality, selfishness, elusive, carrot, appetite, the man,