Acquiring Happiness – Aquinas and Aristotle

Acquiring Happiness – Aquinas and Aristotle Aristotle believed that the highest of all goods achievable by action, for all men, from the average to the aristocrat, was happiness (p. 24). In addition, he added that happiness was the final good, or the end of action (p. 25). He believed that, by nature, happiness is achieved by “exercising reason in accordance with virtue.” He said that, in performing virtuously, one should act morally according to a mean which lies between two vices, as the two vices (the extremes) fall short of what is right (p. 28). Aristotle believed that, in addition to reason, men should pursue truth through philosophy and contemplation, using logic and the observation of nature. He believed “the basis for intelligent conduct is the union of true knowledge of what we ought to do and the desire to do it” (p. 29). Therefore, his basic theory was that although reason plays an important part in proper moral action, a life of intellectual contemplation is more important and what will bring the ultimate true happiness to an individual. Aristotle believed that contemplation, logic and reason pointed the way to achievement and happiness. He looked at things from a purely philosophical view. Aquinas, on the other hand, incorporated a spiritual side to his theory of what brings happiness, as he was a devout Christian. Aquinas’ beliefs were similar in that he agreed with Aristotle in that happiness comes from contemplation. However, Aquinas believed that happiness comes from the Page 2 contemplation which brings one to know God and His nature (p. 80). Aquinas maintains that there are two kinds of happiness: natural happiness and supernatural happiness (p. 77). We can obtain natural happiness in our own power, through our human faculties. Supernatural happiness only comes through revelation from God. Aquinas went on to say that it is difficult to achieve both natural and sup…

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