Aristotle: Happiness is living virtuously?

I'm writing an essay and I don't get any part of the article. If you have read it please help me on what on earth he means by virtue, morals, ethics, and the golden mean. Please put it in terms a four year old can understand I've read essay after essay and still don't get the stupid thing. It's finals week and I'm not exactly running on hours of is one of the essays I read if it helps...please help me :( [external link] …thanks

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2 Answers to “Aristotle: Happiness is living virtuously?”

  1. albocracy says:

    Aristotle believed that the goal of life was to be happy.You find or create happiness by living virtuously.The definition of virtue takes Aristotle all ten books of Nicomachean Ethics to state but on a fourth grade level it means doing what is right. He wrote the books to answer the question “How should we live? His answer , again greatly shortened was/is “Live honestly and modestly and justly. This will make you pleased (happy) with yourself.Ethics are then righteous actionsMorals are the values that lead to righteous ethics.Virtue is the state of being of having morals and acting ethically.On a forth grade level they are all the same. The all are about acting well.The golden mean says that the right action is often found in the center or middle ground. For example between a cheapskate and shopaholic is the middle ground of a responsible spender

  2. polypides says:

    Instead of reading essays about Aristotle, you should actually try reading Aristotle himself — especially the Nicomachean Ethics, which is one of his most understandable treatises. As to your questions…A virtue is a strength and a vice, is the contrary of a virtue. Thus vices are weaknesses because strengths and weaknesses are logical opposites of a CONTRARY variety. Aristotle is always “big” on various sorts of logical opposition — being the alleged “discoverer” (actual expositor) of logic.Morals and Ethics always involve the DOING verb [Do this; Don't do that; You ought to do; You ought not to do; You must do; You must not do; ---- whatever] more than the BEING verb (I am; S/He/It is; We are; They are; etc.). And most things which human beings DO or DO NOT DO are done or not done by HABIT. Why? Because habits save time, so that we are not required to constantly think about what TO DO while we are in the middle of DOING things.e.g. If you had to think about tying your shoe laces [Since "velcro" fewer people tie shoe-laces; but some of us "geezers" still tie our laces.], or setting the table, or “work routines”, you’d never get anything DONE. You’d be doing far more thinking than DOING. So must of the stuff we learn to do becomes HABIT or “routine”. Now the Greek word for HABIT is ETHOS, from which the term ETHICS is derived. The Latin term for habit is “Mos” from which MORALS is a derived term, in English. So that answers your questions about ethics and morals —- DOING things WELL or BADLY, in addition to DOING good actions and/or DOING bad actions — which most people think of as “morality” [good vs. bad actions].Now about the alleged “golden mean”. Virtues, according to Aristotle, are like “hitting targets”. And the “bulls eye”, of course is always in the MIDDLE of the target. Another word for MIDDLE is “MEAN” [not a "mean person" but a so-called "golden mean" or "golden middle", as in "middle" or dead center of either a bull's eye or a road]. A VIRTUE is a behaviour which is in the MIDDLE between CONTRARY vices.Since you are a young modern woman you have probably heard about 2 BAD THINGS which happen to some young modern women. One is ANOREXIA (refusal to eat) and the other is BULIMIA (gorging oneself and then forcing oneself to throw it all up). Both are usually described by modern people as medical or psychological problems, rather than VICES since the terms “vice and viciousness” have become “loaded (emotion producing) words”, long ago.But, in Aristotle’s original sense of “weakness”, eating nothing (anorexia) is an ERROR OF DEFECT (not eating is a defect in eating) while eating too much (gorging) and then throwing it all up (purging) again is an ERROR OF EXCESS (eating too much) and an ERROR OF DEFECT (getting no nutrition), called BULIMIA. Both conditions (ANOREXIA — error of defect and BULIMIA error of excess) are what Aristotle would call VICES of eating and are CONTRARY habits to the HABIT of normal/healthy, or VIRTUOUS, eating HABITS which contribute to health and STRENGTH/virtue.So the VIRTUE (strength) of eating normally has 2 CONTRARY VICES [weaknesses] among modern young women (for the most part; although some males develop eating disorders) called ANOREXIA (not eating; DEFECT in eating) and BULIMIA (gorging = EXCESS of eating; then purging; EXCESS of “throwing up”). And eating normally, the VIRTUE, is a “golden mean” between the opposed VICES of (1) not eating at all (anorexia) and (2) gorging followed by purging (bulimia).The examples provided in your essay were similar in that COURAGE (a virtue) is a “golden mean” between COWARDICE (Excess of fear and Defect of confidence — a vice involving lack of courage] and RASHNESS [Defect of fear; or no fear; and Excess of Confidence/optimism; a vice involving too much "confidence" and no "fear" at all in dangerous situations].Most virtues [doing the right act at the right time in the right way with respect to the right person or thing] are golden “means/middles” between CONTRARY vices, according to Aristotle. And DOING THINGS RIGHT/WELL in a full life of activity involving REASON makes us HAPPY, according to Aristotle. On the other hand, doing things POORLY and/or doing BAD things makes us, on THE CONTRARY, unhappy, according to Aristotle.One cannot really put “morals/ethics” in terms understandable by a 4 year old. But I hoped this helped. When you get some sleep and have some spare time actually read Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics — which is a lot more clear than Kemstone’s essay, but far more detailed. There is probably a free copy at [external link]