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Aristotle's Eudaimonia

The disagreement arises out of what Aristotle meant by human nature, or man's ergon: did he ultimately believe that man's function and meaning are encompassed only in rational thought, or also in the application of man's rational faculties toward and along with other functions? There is no conflict, however, regarding the relationship between man's ergon and eudaimonia. Philosophers are consistent in their writings on Aristotle that eudaimonia, or the supremely good life and the one aim toward which human life strives, is the performance of activities in accordance with man's ergon and with excellence. In other words, man ought to pursue activities which are natural to his function and meaning as man, and ought to perform these activities properly and with excellence. These activities will not seem alien or difficult, precisely because they are in accordance with man's ergon; furthermore, a good man's performance of these activities will confer upon him true pleasure: "[g]oodness does not consist in avoiding pleasure in the interests of some higher ideal but in being right about what is truly pleasant"(Annas 289).

Aristotle's idea of pleasure was not simply bodily pleasure, such as that derived from the satisfaction of physical needs like hunger, fatigue, and sexual desire: "If pleasure were limited to pleasure from these sources, then it would be a hindrance to the good life...The good man's life will include these pleasures, will be structured in such a way that the bodily pleasures have a place subordinate to intellectual and virtuous activities and the pleasures derived from these" (Annas 286).

Freud's ideas on pleasure and happiness were markedly different. He believed that happiness is an unattainable state, and that its attainment would be a threat to survival. According to Freud's theory, happiness and pleasure are always produced by "reduction in tension" (Kalin 173), by a return to the infantile state. Thus, w...

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Aristotle's Eudaimonia. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:09, December 01, 2015, from
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