Study Guide

The Nicomachean Ethics Book 1, Chapter 9 (1099b10-1100a9)

By Aristotle

Book 1, Chapter 9 (1099b10-1100a9)

  • So can happiness be had through learning or becoming accustomed to good ways? Or is it fate?
  • It seems that happiness is divine (and therefore God-given), so that we call some people blessed by it. But it also seems that one could cultivate it through education and diligence.
  • Aristotle equivocates and says that if we think it's better to be able to achieve happiness through our own efforts rather than through divine intervention, then so be it. Let's call it that.
  • Besides, it would seem a bad thing to leave the best and noblest of all ways of being to chance.
  • Aristotle recaps: happiness is an activity of the soul in harmony with virtue; other goods are additions, though sometimes necessary; the political art is best, as it makes citizens good.
  • Because of all this, we can't call a horse, dog, cow, or child happy.
  • Child, you say? Remember that a happy person must also have the full measure of life. A child doesn't yet have that.
  • And finally, a happy person cannot be one who suffers bad luck at the end of his life and is destroyed by it (like King Priam of Troy).