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Aristotle and the Highest Good

What is “the good”? “The good” is defined as the ultimate place where everything makes sense and falls into place. In order to have a good life, a person must do something in their life. As Aristotle explains his views and thoughts on pleasure and why it is not good, he tends to be grey with his points (Curtis, lecture notes). According to Aristotle, he believed that pleasure is good but not “the good”. Aristotle’s views as to why pleasure is not “the good” stand out and make sense in the overall picture.

Aristotle believes that pleasure is not “the good” because “the good” is definite whereas pleasure is indefinite because it admits more and less. If someone’s judgment rests solely on being pleased throughout life, the same feeling occurs with other virtues as well (Book X, Chapter 3, P2). It makes people more and less in agreement with their virtues and allows them to continue doing pleasant actions more often.

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On the other hand, if someone can come to a sensible conclusion on the variety of pleasures, then they fail to state the reason. Humans desire pleasure because it completes activities and taking part in different activities fills up our lives and makes it what we desire (Book X, Chapter 6, P6).

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When dealing with pleasure, Aristotle says that it is possible to move quickly or slowly into pleasure but not move quickly or slowly during the activity. When a person finds something they like, they most of the time don’t hold interest in it for very long and find another thing that satisfies them more (Book X, Chapter 6, P6).

Pleasure is different for each person. Every person has different expectations for the idea of pleasure. He believes that pleasure is so easy that everyone acquires it as a child from his or her parents and surroundings. Because they inherit pleasure from their surroundings, some are motivated by pleasure yet several believe that pleasure is bad but still do it. An example of this would be drugs, drinking, sex, and so on (Curtis, lecture notes). When people follow this, they counter their own arguments. Another one of Aristotle’s theories is that pleasure varies for different species (Curtis, lecture notes). Everything from sight, smell, touch, and sound make their pleasures correspond to a certain activity. Each animal has a different idea of pleasure and varies whether it is a painful or satisfying pleasure (Book X, Chapter 5, P8).

What is a pain if it can be considered a pleasure? Pain resembles a foreign pleasure. Aristotle’s analogy of pain is explained like this: in life, our bodies empty and refill with food every single day. Pain acts as the emptying and pleasure act as the refilling (Book X, Chapter 3, P6). He says that refilling is not a pleasure. While the refilling is happening, you may feel happy or satisfied but you will soon be empty again (Book X, Chapter 3, P6). The pain, in this case, perishes the pleasure (Book X, Chapter 5, P5).

Pleasure may seem like the number one goal but the ultimate goal, Aristotle says, is happiness. Happiness is the most choiceworthy virtue and is not a state (Book X, Chapter 6, P2). Happiness is the most important quality but most people cannot recognize that or tend to look past it (Book X, Chapter 6, P6). We believe that celebrities are our goals in life when in reality they may not have good characteristics. Celebrities are scripted and follow a different lifestyle that most people do.

Aristotle explains the state of being amused is not happiness. When a person is amused, they are entertained or intrigued just while that event is happening and not in the long run (Book X, Chapter 6, P2). What is good is complete, where the process and becomings are incomplete. The problem with this is that it takes your mind off of the present issues at hand but when it is over, you are as if you are left with nothing or you are empty (Book X, Chapter 6, P6). Another example of this would be trying something new. When a person tries something for the first time, it is exciting and nerve-racking at first but will eventually fade away with time (Book X, Chapter 6, P6).
Aristotle believes that studying is our highest virtue. Everyone has studied something before in his or her lives and it is extremely common.

The reason why it is our highest virtue is that studying is self-sufficient so we do not need others (Book X, Chapter 7, P4). Because we do not need others, we don’t rely on people and learn how to become independent. People cannot force us to study because it is a choice that we make throughout learning. Humans are constantly gaining knowledge and growing so people derive the most joy from learning new things (Book X, Chapter 7, P4). Aristotle believes that studying is healthy and a good habit for humanity.

Aristotle’s conclusion on pleasure is accurate because of how he explains it as not apart of “the good”. Pleasure is a subcategory to “the good”. It falls under “the good” but is the only good thing in our lives. Aristotle believes that pleasure acts as an ingredient in multiple scenarios (Curtis, lecture notes). Having pleasure acts as an ingredient sums up the feeling of pleasure. Philosophy, according to Aristotle, is the purest of pleasure in that learning gives us the most enjoyment (Book X, Chapter 7, P1). Becoming more intelligent and learning as well as teaching throughout our lives helps us to exceed our expectations and help us to obtain a sense of “the good”. We all have different interpretations of pleasure and “the good” but the general knowledge of pleasure is what we base happiness off of. Only humans can understand the reason and this helps us every day of our lives. Aristotle’s views on pleasure and the conclusion he came to were reasonable and a good argument as to why pleasure is not “the good”.

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Aristotle and the Highest Good. (2020, Oct 29). Retrieved from

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