1. In books 1 and 10, Aristotle explains what happiness is, as he defines it. Focusing on books 1 and 10, explain what Aristotle means at 1.7 when he says happiness is an: activity of soul in accord with virtue, and if there are several virtues, then in accord with the best and most complete one. Explain what he saying here. What is virtue and what does it have to do with happiness? What role does reason play in our happiness? Next, if there are "several virtues," what are they and which is "the best and most complete one"? What does Aristotle mean by "most complete"? Why is this virtue "the best and most complete"? Lastly, Aristotle says, in addition to "activity in accord with virtue," that in order to be happy we need to have a "complete life" (1.7 1098a lines 17–20) What does he mean by a "complete life"; what does it consist of? And how does it relate to happiness? 2. First, what are the preconditions of any form of friendship (Books 8 and 9)? Explain what friendship is for Aristotle generally and what the three types of friendship are in particular. Describe them in all their characteristics including: the good or object of exchange; whether the friend is treated as a means or an end; a true friend or not, the degree of completeness or incompleteness; the issue duration; and issues of equality/inequality and like/unlike. What does it mean that a true friend is treated as an "end in themselves," whereas someone less than a true friend is merely a means? What makes "complete friendship" complete? (What does it mean to be complete?) What is the relationship between friendship and happiness? Will all three types of friendship produce happiness? If not, which one and why?

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The first key concept a student attempting to respond to this series of questions should address is the concept of "happiness." The Greek term used by Aristotle is "eudaimonia," which would, perhaps, better be translated as "well-being." Unlike "hedone" or pleasure, which is a transitory sensation, eudaimonia means something closer to well-being or having a good life. Thus for Aristotle, a life devoted to sensual pleasure would not be an example of eudaimonia.

Aristotle defines the good as something people must seek as an end in itself rather than as a means to an end. In other words, while people seek money, they rarely do so to obtain money itself but rather seek money because it can enable them to obtain other goods such as material objects, security, and prestige. Thus it might be a step toward a good life but not the good life itself. The good or complete life, therefore, is one in which a person attains an ultimate rather than proximate good, or something that is good in itself rather than simply a means to other good things.

The term translated as "virtue" is "arete" which means something on the order of "excellence." While in earlier Greek texts, it could refer to specific skills such as martial prowess (the root of the term is "Ares," the Greek god of war) or skill in making shoes or riding horses, Aristotle's teacher, Plato, argued that there was one unifying virtue or "arete" of which specific skills were reflections.

This overarching virtue was that of a human qua human being. Since what is distinctive about humans is reason, for Aristotle reason was a central component of virtue and the contemplative life, which involved the greatest exercise of reason: the most perfect life.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on November 6, 2019
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