According to Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics, what is the "chief good"—at which all human activity and desire is directed?

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For Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics , happiness is the ultimate good because it's the only good that can be sought for itself and not as a means to some other end. In other words, if someone asks us why we want to be happy, we don't need to give...

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For Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics, happiness is the ultimate good because it's the only good that can be sought for itself and not as a means to some other end. In other words, if someone asks us why we want to be happy, we don't need to give reasons—we might even inquire as to why someone would ask us such a strange question.

Happiness, by its very nature, is something that each and every one of us wants to have. Not even intelligence or virtue are so universally desired as an "end," rather than a "means". We seek intelligence or virtue because they make us happy, therefore making happiness (as Aristotle argues) the ultimate good.

That being said, Aristotle also states that happiness can only truly be judged over the course of one's life. According to him, a happy life is one the has been lived in accordance with the virtues of moral excellence, such as prudence, wisdom, and courage.

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I think that the best answer to this is that all human beings are trying to find happiness.

Aristotle says that everything we do is in some way aimed at a goal (or "end") that we think is good.  Different people can have different ends that they think of as good, but they all lead to one thing.  Let's say you and I are different -- I want to make enough money to retire when I am 45 and spend my life writing a novel (I don't).  You want to make only enough money to support yourself as you do good works and help the poor.  These seem to be different ends.  So what do they have in common?

To Aristotle, we are both seeking happiness.  These things I have mentioned are just intermediate goals.  They are not really what we seek.  What we are both seeking is happiness.  Once we are truly happy, we no longer have to try to achieve anything more.

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