Philosophy Bro explains complex ideas of philosophy in easy to understand language, created by Tommy Maranges, the author of Descartes' Meditations, Bro.

Aristotle's "Nicomachean Ethics, Book I:" A Summary

Look, bros don’t do shit for no reason. We have reasons when we do things - we act with ends in mind, whatever those ends may be. Sometimes we want to get rich, sometimes we want to get laid, whatever. My point is, we don’t bumble through life arbitrarily. Now you might be thinking, “But Aristotle, isn’t getting laid an activity, too?” Hell yeah it is - I didn’t say activities have to have a single end. Often, we seek goods as instrumental to other goods - but there has to be a highest good, otherwise we get an infinite chain of goods, which is obviously impossible.

Everyone pretty much agrees that that final good is happiness. Who doesn’t want to be happy? What asshole is moping around going, “Fuck happiness. I hate being happy.” No one, that’s who. The problem is, not everyone agrees on what happiness is or how to get it, which is what I’m here to clear up for you guys. Some people think that happiness is pleasure, which is just stupid. How could it be? Pleasures conflict all the time. When we’re presented with two competing pleasures, it’s a tough fucking choice, and we always agonize about it; when two options make us equally happy, though, we shrug and say, “I don’t give a flying fuck, bro. Honestly, I’m happy either way.”

Some other political bros think that happiness is honor, and we should seek that. But who wants honor? And why do we give it? People honor bros because of their virtue, so obviously we value virtue more; besides, honor is only had in relation. I’m honored because people honor me; happiness isn’t anything like that at all. So yeah, honor is fucking sweet, but it’s not the final good.

Now, some bros think that we’re after the Form of the Good, whatever the hell that is. Bro, think of all the shit that we consider ‘good’. Literally every activity we do has some 'good’ as its aim. We drink to get drunk. Is drunkenness good? Well, that depends on a lot of shit, like if we can hold our liquor and whether we have important things to do tomorrow; at best, it’s good in relation to a bunch of other conditions. And 'drunkenness,’ the thing, has so few properties in common with 'bros’, which aren’t very like 'exercise’, which isn’t like 'God’ at all. If we’re trying to figure out what we want, how to be happy, all that Form bullshit isn’t going to get us anywhere helpful.

So happiness isn’t some other thing we need to identify and seek - it’s the reason we do shit. It’s the aim of all our activities, we’re always seeking it, and it’s self-sufficient. It’s always a final good. If someone was like, “Why do you want to be happy?” You’d look at him like a fucking idiot. “Because… it’s… happiness, asshole." 

If we’re trying to figure out how to be happy, we have to figure out our purpose. Everything has a purpose, and good things accomplish their purpose well. What makes a good pledge? He’s quiet, compliant, a fucking great driver, and he never has class. That allows him to accomplish his purpose well. What makes a good human? Well, what sets us apart is the soul, our ability to recognize virtue; our purpose, then, is to live in virtue. And what makes people happy? Being fucking good at what they’re supposed to be good at. Who doesn’t love getting As on tests? Who isn’t fucking thrilled to be the best at something? And our highest purpose is virtue; we have to get good at being virtuous to truly be happy.

"But Aristotle, virtue is hard. It doesn’t make me happy at all to hear you say that. How can this be?” Being the best at something is always hard if it’s worth doing. You don’t get to just sit around and be happy or virtuous; you have to work for it. At the Olympics, how do we know who’s the strongest? The guy who lifts the most. And if some guy lifted more at his house the week before, he swears, it doesn’t matter one bit - it’s a matter of who earned it that day. Virtue is hard work, but work isn’t bad, not if you’re doing what you love to do. So yeah, a virtuous man enjoys his virtue, and takes pride in learning it, and improving himself, even if he has to sweat it out once in a while. Virtue has to be learned; we must spend our lives striving for virtue. It’s not a switch you flip and Oh! Now I’m Virtuous.

Happiness isn’t a second-by-second thing, it takes a lifetime. In fact, if you want to know whether a man is truly happy, wait until he dies - you should be able to look back over his life and say by the end, “Yup. Definitely happy.” “But Aristotle, how can dead men be happy?” Well, whiny-guy-I’m-using-rhetorically, that just proves my point. Happiness isn’t something you do, it’s an end you achieve. We can’t say dead mean do stuff, but we can definitely look back and know they achieved shit.

And since all of this starts with the soul, we have to know the soul, which has two parts - rational and irrational. When bros let the irrational part take over, that’s when shit gets out of hand. Yeah, it feels really good to let the irrational part take over sometimes and just fulfill all our appetites, but when shit all comes crashing down, then what? “Bro, I spent all my money, and hooked up with a bunch of chicks, but now I have nothing.” Was it worth it? Nope, not if they’ve abandoned virtue - those bros are miserable. We must, therefore, tame the irrational part of the soul with the rational, and allow that to direct us; after all, that’s what makes us special. We must think, and we must act; we must be virtuous both in mind and in character. And as a bro masters these, becomes wise and temperate, you bet your ass he’s happy as fuck.

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