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Aristotle On Ethics

1) Explain fully Aristotle’s approach to Ethics. What is the goal of the
ethical life? What type of soul is capable of realizing the good life? How do we
go about accomplishing this goal? What are the possible lifestyle choices we may
lead? Are any of these conducive to leading the good life? The goal of the
ethical life, according to Aristotle, is good. All human activity is directed
toward this good, the highest of which is Eudaimonia. There are two kinds of
good, intrinsic and instrumental. Intrinsic goods are those which are good in
and of themselves. The only thing that is completely intrinsic is happiness, or
Eudaimonia. Instrumental goods are those which are good only because they are
used for some other thing or purpose. Money is the most obvious instrumental
good, as it is used to obtain other goods. Any individual with a virtuous soul
is capable of realizing the good life. One must live with moral and intellectual
virtues, excellences, and high standards to accomplish this goal. There are
three lifestyles one may lead: the vulgar, the political, or the contemplative.

The vulgar lifestyle is based on instant gratification. Goods are simply
pleasures one enjoys immediately and temporarily. This lifestyle is guaranteed
to fail in the quest for Eudaimonia. The political lifestyle in one in which
happiness is determined by honor achieved. There are two types of honors one can
obtain in the political life, the real and the bogus. Bogus honors are simply to
gain status in society and could be bought, but real honors are awards for doing
good and helping others. While politics itself is the study of the good, one
could easily disgrace oneself and become ostracized from the community. The
contemplative lifestyle is one based upon speculation and reflection into
one’s own life. This lifestyle is ethical and is the best way to guide one
towards the good life and true happiness.

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