Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics in Human Life
The search for the meaning of life has been going on since the world’s creation. At different stages of human development, religions and philosophical currents tried to explain it, and the best minds interpreted this concept from different points of view. According to the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, the meaning of life is to strive for happiness, that is, to realize your essence (Cahn, 2009). Moreover, Aristotle believed that the purpose of life is to serve others. Without virtue, happiness, which is the goal of life, is impossible. The essence of goodness lies in the domination of the rational element of the soul over the sensual passions. True ethical behavior consists in taking a reasonable middle ground between the opposite extremes, which are vices. Aristotle recognizes the importance of pleasure but considers its highest kind to be the feeling of contentment caused in a person by the consciousness that their actions are moral and good.
Using the term telos in his philosophy, Aristotle applied it in its natural ambiguity. Aristotle’s telos-end often turns into a telos-goal, and in a sense, the end and the goal are entirely merged with him. The concept of the goal-end is essential for Aristotle since it comes very close to the most fundamental basis of his aesthetics and philosophy in general. In addition, Aristotle introduced the term eudaimonia, a philosophical and ethical tradition, and life attitude according to which happiness is the only or highest human good. Eudaimonia gives a positive answer and elevates happiness to a moral principle of behavior.
In opposition to Aristotle’s opinion about the virtue of every person, there is a modern opinion by Bernard Mayo. Mayo disagrees that virtue can be inherent in every person since it is necessary to consider the qualities of each person (Cahn, 2009). Probably, this characteristic of people should be taken into account, but still, Aristotelian ethics is more profound, because regardless of the personal qualities of each person, it is essential to possess virtue and then, probably realizing this, people themselves will strive to change and become better, and therefore happier.
I believe that Aristotle’s ethics of virtue is correct because often, by doing good deeds, people can feel happier. For example, if a person has the opportunity to help homeless animals by feeding or finding shelter for them, which can save them from death, this must be done. As a result, a person will realize that he saved the life of a creature, and this cannot but rejoice. One can also help children in orphanages deprived of parents’ and children’s happiness. In addition, in his ethics, Aristotle points out that there must be justice, and I agree with this. Justice is an integral part of people’s lives because, without it, chaos can occur, and some people will always be in a better position than others.
Virtue makes people better and allows them to make the world more perfect. Virtuous people can be considered more formed personalities than those who do not seek to do good for other people or beings. Virtue is a character trait deeply rooted in its owner, something that can be said to go to the very depths, unlike simple predispositions. It is associated with many other actions, emotions, emotional reactions, choices, values, desires, perceptions, attitudes, interests, expectations, and feelings. To possess virtue means to be a specific type of person with a certain complex mindset. A happy life can be called a life that a person has lived by helping other people and doing virtuous deeds.
In conclusion, virtue, according to Aristotle, is an essential part of human life. According to the philosopher, the meaning of life is to do good deeds that bring joy, strengthen justice and make the world a better place. Undoubtedly, there are also oppositional opinions that challenge Aristotle’s ethics, but still, thinking about the details of Aristotle’s ethics, it can be concluded that he was right. After all, by doing good deeds, people become better, and for some, it brings happiness, moral satisfaction, and peace.
Cahn, S. (2009). The nature of virtue. Oxford University Press.