44 pages 1 hour read


Nicomachean Ethics

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | BCE

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Books 1-3Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Book 1 Summary

Aristotle begins by asserting that every endeavor and action is set forth in pursuit of goodness as an end. This constitutes the foundation of ethics. However, he acknowledges that a desire to achieve what is good does not always produce this outcome. Aristotle suggests that understanding ethics and knowing what must be done to achieve good are keys to reproducing this desired result. He also asserts that the good of society—“the city”—takes precedence over the good of the individual (2). This provides a connection between ethics and political science, which Aristotle uses as the methodology for his study of ethics.

He then sets out to define the terms that dictate his point of study. Aristotle proposes that “good” may be associated with “happiness.” The basis of this claim is that doing good produces happiness in the individual. He rejects certain understandings of the word “happiness,” denying associations with wealth or gratification. Happiness goes beyond these characteristics; it suggests that there is something intangible and singular that can be achieved through good. Aristotle submits that there are three ways people view happiness: through pleasure, politics, and learning.