One of Aristotleâ€™s conclusions in the first book of Nicomachean Ethics is that â€œhuman good turns out to be the soulâ€™s activity that expresses virtueâ€(EN 1.7.1098a17). This conclusion can be explicated with Aristotleâ€™s definitions and reasonings concerning good, activity of soul, and excellence through virtue; all with respect to happiness. Aristotle opens his argument with the statement: â€œthe good has been well described as that at which everything aimsâ€(1.1.1094a2). This premise means that all actions aim at an end that is good. Moreover, through this definition of good, there are numerous goods corresponding to numerous actions. How can we know which good is the best, or highest good? Aristotle introduces a hierarchy of goods. In order to have an end there must be an activity, yet â€œthe product (of the activity) is by nature better than the activityâ€(1.1.1094a6). Rather, each end in turn aims for something else: another end. It seems that this hierarchy would perpetuate into infinity, however Aristotle establishes that there is an action that has an absolute end, meaning that the end aims at nothing else. The action that produces the absolute end is pursued â€œbecause of itself;â€ thus this end will be the highest and best good (1.2.1094a18-22). Further, Aristotle parallels the highest good with happiness: â€œAs far as its name goes, most people virtually agree [about what the good is] â€¦ (and) call it happinessâ€(1.4.1095a17-19). In order for happiness to fit Aristotleâ€™s definition of the good it must be â€œunconditionally completeâ€ meaning â€œchoiceworthy in itselfâ€(1.7.1097a34) and â€œself-sufficientâ€ meaning â€œlacking nothingâ€(1.7.1097b15). To be the highest good happiness will need to be the â€œmos... ...Aristotleâ€™s conclusion relates human good, activity of soul and excellence. It is this expression of virtue through action that allows happiness to be obtained. Such dependence on virtue sets the scene for Aristotle to examine virtue more closely. He will elaborate on the two parts of reasoning well (virtue). The first part of reasoning well is having the right desires to aim oneself at the right good and not just the apparent good. The second part of reasoning well is knowing how to get to this proper desire. This will be further elaborated in book two where Aristotle will explore what it means to reason well and what is means to be virtuous. Work Cited Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics. Translated by Terence Irwin. Hackett Publishing Company: Indianapolis. 1985. Note: In citations,  indicate translators additions, while ( ) indicate my own additions.
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