Mercurial Essays

Free Essays & Assignment Examples

Nicomachean Ethics (876 words)

Aristotle, in ?Nicomachean Ethics?, claims that to discover the human good we must identify the function of a human being. He argues that the human function is rational activity, since that is what differentiates us from everything else. Peoples good is therefore rational activity performed well.
Aristotle gives a lot of evidence to support his view about the human function. First, he tells us how everything has a soul, and we are looking for the special function of humans. We set aside the view of human function as being life of nutrition and growth. We do this because this function is shared with all living things including plants, and animals. He wants a function that singles humans out. A quote from Aristotle:
Presumably, however, to say that happiness is the chief good seems a platitude, and a
clearer account of what it is still desired. This might perhaps be given, if we could
first ascertain the function of man. For just as for a flute player, a sculptor, or any
artist, and, in general, for all things that have a function or activity, the good and the
??well?? is thought to reside in the function, so it would seem to be for man, if he has a
function. Have the carpenter, then, and the tanner certain functions or activities, and
has man none? Is he naturally functionless? Or as eye, hand, foot, and in general each
of the parts evidently has a function, may one lay it down that man similarly has a
function apart from all these? (NE 1.7 1097b22?33)
You can look at this argument in a couple of different ways. I see it as expressing how each individual piece has a function but the overall function only makes since if you look at it as a whole. The overall function of man is accomplished through the many functions of his parts.

What is the one thing we have that nothing else does? The ability to reason. Since humans have a life of activity which fulfills our lives, we look at the activity that we do as our function. Aristotle?s search for good is a search for the highest good, and he thinks the highest good has three characteristics: it is desirable for itself, it is not desirable for the sake of some other good, and all other goods are desirable for its sake. From a philosophers point of view it?s good to have knowledge. Not just for knowledge but to have a better understanding to flourish. So by gaining knowledge and doing it well, he is doing good.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

Function is the ability to reason of some sorts, and to have good you must reason well. Now anyone can do an activity but he does use an example of a harpist. The harpist function is to play a harp, which is the rational activity. Now the human good of a harpist isn?t just to play the harp but to play it well. If the harpist plays the harp but never does it well, never tries, then he is not accomplishing human good. Every person has a function to perform, and if you want to be happy you will do it well so you can accomplish the human good.

Is human good really the ability to reason well? What do I think is good? To be happy, to have great wealth, to succeed? All of the above? I think good is an accumulation of everything. Some people can be poor and does that well, but I don?t think they are fulfilling the human good. Wouldn?t a human good be something that accomplishes good in some way for many? I do believe the human good for a harpist could be playing the harp well, but not for the reasoning Aristotle gives. If being a harpist is what makes you happy then you will want to do it well, and if by you playing your harp well bring happiness to others aren?t you performing good? Bringing good to one or many is good not being accomplished in a single function.

What if you were a good murderer? You learned early on you were good at it so you refined your skill to do it very well. Are you accomplishing the human good? I do not believe so. The function you are performing is evil and bad. Just because you do it good and are great at it does not mean your performing good.

Human function is the ability to reason. Why does it only have to be the ability to reason? The human function can be the ability to reason, to grow, and perception, an accumulation of everything into one. We are far advanced from animals and plants; they could never hope to accomplish all three. Yet we can, we can function in many ways and I believe the accumulation of all makes us flourish. If an alien arrives tomorrow with the ability to reason, will that destroy our function? Does a harpist have a single function to play the harp? What if he is a father, husband, doctor, and harpist? What then would be his function? Everything that makes up an individual is their function. Your function cannot be narrowed down to one thing.


I'm Belinda!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out