What Does It Mean To Live A Good Life?
In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle posits an answer to the question of how to live the best life.
In a modern day context, a typical answer to living a good life is found in the “American Dream”: a big house in the suburbs with a front and backyard, two point five kids, two cars, a white picket fence, etc.
According to Aristotle, few people will be able to articulate the steps that lead to the achievement of that dream. He posits that “all aim at some good and seek what is lacking, and yet they leave out the knowledge of it” (Ethics, 1097a5-6).
This is what makes Aristotle such an important figure to study because he gives us the knowledge of how to live the best life possible. It may not always end with the achievement of the American Dream, but following Aristotle’s advice by pursuing a virtuous life will likely improve the well-being of any given individual.
In this chapter, I examine how Aristotle defines goods and how the pursuit of these goods leads to virtue. Then I discuss virtue and the differences between ethical and intellectual virtue, how they are related, and how they affect the pursuit of a virtuous life. Then I look at justice, the virtue that Aristotle acknowledges as the most complete virtue. Finally, I show how Aristotle uses justice as a proportion and as a complete virtue and its significance to the virtuous life.
Aristotle uses these ideas as a foundation for people should they desire to choose the best life possible. The most remarkable aspect about Aristotle’s articulation of the virtuous life is that he imagines one that can actually be realized.