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How does Aristotle define happiness?

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Quick Answer

To Aristotle, happiness is a goal that is achieved by exercising good virtue over the course of one’s lifetime. Practicing positive behavioral habits is how one grasps the overall purpose of human life.

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Full Answer

Realizing one’s own capabilities by intellectually considering the substance of one’s happiness is the first step to achieving happiness, Aristotle says. The next is to maintain a balance between good virtues and bad habits or circumstances.

Happiness is not material wealth, nor is it pleasure, be it spiritual or otherwise. However, Aristotle concedes that health, stability, success, and even one’s physical appearance are important factors in one’s overall well-being. Even so, Aristotle maintains that behavioral habits and not merely good fortune determine whether or not one is truly happy.

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