Aristotles Nicomachean Ethics Book Philosophy Essay

Bethany Little

Professor Johnson

Structured Reading

Structured Reading Assignment: Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics Book. I

Overall Summary:

The dialogue centers on the statement from the Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics that "All Humans Endeavors are target toward an end which is good." Aristotle also uses the dialogue to center on two questions of what constitutes happiness in our lives and are all human activities aim at some good. Aristotle unravels Plato’s characterization explaining that human good is always the end result of their actions and they should act as human’s are designed to behave. The dialogue states that Aristotle believed that we should not just aim at happiness, but rather we do aim at happiness. Ultimately there are resolutions to the questions of what constitutes happiness in our lives and are all human activities aim at some good but it consists of Aristotle’s own opinions about how humans achieve true happiness in their lives.

Main Ideas:

In Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics Book. I Aristotle states "that all human actions are made with the idea of producing some sort of good" this statement lays down the groundwork for an example of virtuous behavior. Aristotle starts to talk about how we can achieve ultimate happiness in our lives but many people disagree about what constitutes this happiness. Aristotle unravels Plato’s characterization that there is a universal standard for what is considered good in the world. Plato explained that there are a wide variety of people in the world and each person may have a different definition of the word "good" then another person’s definition. While others philosophers and human’s associate true happiness with pleasure. Aristotle stated that pleasure is sufficient for animals but not for human life because he believes there is a more than just pleasure that makes human’s truly happy. Aristotle argues that a good person will always act with virtuous behavior and he also states how you have to be virtuous in order to understand ethics. He brings up ethics in his work stating that is used to understand practical reasoning which should result in your actions to be ethical by principles. Aristotle also states in his book that "We may almost say that the great majority of mankind are agreed about this; for both the multitude and persons of refinement speak of it as Happiness, and conceive the good life' or doing well' to be the same thing as being happy." Aristotle then discusses the two types of virtue which are intellectual and moral. He believed that through moral practice many people will be able to balance out deficiencies in their lives and these people will not fall into the temptations and recognize the selfishness it possesses. Aristotle wanted people to understand why they should act virtuous and not just because of external or cultural constraints. He wanted them to understand that virtue is gained from the internal part of human’s.


Aristotle’s biggest idea in my opinion is when he is talking about how there should not be a point in people’s lives where they have absolutely nothing to do and that they should not waste their time with non virtuous ideas. He wants humans to take that time and sculpt or invent something that can ultimately produce a good. I can understand what he is talking about because why work on something that is not going to benefit anyone. When Aristotle begins talking about virtue I can understand what he means when he explains how moral practice will sculpt you into a better person. There are many examples you can use to understand his reasoning behind this idea. For example, if you’re in a group of people after a ship wreck and you only have a limited amount of food and your goal if for everyone to survive on this amount of food you have left. So you decide that you are only going to take a much as you need so that the other people can get as much as they need to survive. The virtuous people will not fall into temptation and take more food than they actually need to survive. If everyone is has virtues then everyone will survive but if they do not have virtues then you will probably not survive. I did find a statement from Aristotle that I do not agree with it is when he constantly says that truly virtuous people will know if they are being virtuous or not through their actions. Everyone has a different definition of what is truly a virtuous act. No one will ever be able to truly state what the definition of a virtuous action is because people will make an argument that who is to stay who can truly say which definition is correct about a virtuous act consists of. If people are getting happiness from their actions then how can Aristotle state that virtuous people will know when they are committing a truly virtuous act?