Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics

Is anyone really happy, according to Aristotle?


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Considering the opinion of Solon, who says that only the dead are truly happy, Aristotle rejects this position on account of one simple idea: namely, that a necessary criterion of happiness is an “activity of soul.” Since the soul is the living principle of the body, it is impossible to arrive at happiness if dead. Thus, Aristotle optimistically declares that there is nothing preventing a living person who lives virtuously and by reason from being happy.


Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, Book I