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Post 1: Write a mini-essay on what would make you happy in this life. List what you really want and desire in order to be happy. Write a 1-page critique of your views from Aristotle’s perspective. Be sure to substantiate your critique with ideas from Aristotle’s chapter in Great Traditions. Outline in depth Aristotle’s ethical theory and apply it to your life.

 

Those things that would make me happy in this life are a combination of things shallow, and things profound. To say that material things do not bring me immediate happiness would be a blatant, sanctimonious, lie. But by the same token, I cannot say that I am simple enough that those material things would bring me ultimate happiness and fulfillment. What would make me happy above all things in this world, is to live and die, to be thought of and remembered, as a man of virtue and integrity. I believe that in order to be known as a man of virtue, I must live as a man of virtue; and this involves many things, but above all else this involves integrity, selflessness, and loyalty. Whether or not I succeed hinges on whether or not my convictions can overcome my own inherent, selfish, compulsions. This conflict between my convictions and my compulsions will shape my decisions and my actions. And it will be my actions, not my words that determine whether or not I will be considered a person of virtue. If I do in fact succeed in living a just and virtuous life, then at the end of my life I can look at my life and myself and die happily with a strong sense of dignity and accomplishment.

 

By Aristotle’s logic, our ultimate desire is something that is self-sufficient and final. It is fulfilling all by itself, and it does not lead to something else. My desire to lead a virtuous life does not lead to anything else; rather, other things lead to it. All of my actions ultimately lead to that one end, as Aristotle states “for it is the for the sake of this that all men do whatever else they do” (24). My actions and my decisions might lead to an immediate goal, but that goal in turn leads to another. This continues to form a hierarchy, with one ultimate goal at the top.