Does a life of deep observation and thinking alone necessarily bring happiness to mankind? In this case, according to Aristotle the sole function of reasoning determines ultimate happiness. Is that universally applicable to every aspect of human life? Can all 6 billion people remain happy if they chose to reason out their actions or actions of others? Yes, a contemplative approach will to a great extent result in a life where people do not live in war with their conscience especially in relation to the question of whether every action they perform on a human level is right or wrong. I disagree with the statement “Perhaps we shall find the best “Good” if we first find the function of a human being” made by Aristotle because, the word “the” is used before he says function which makes a reader believe there is just one single recipe for sustainable happiness or goodness in life.
The sixth sense or the “ability to reason” is the unique and distinctive feature of a human being that distinguishes man from every other living organism as stated by Aristotle in his search for the best “Good” determining function. However, the question is why not consider other functions of human that may also be common in animals as be able to determine definitive good.
The statement is further flawed by the ambitious presumption that mere reasoning can ensure consistent or rather continuous happiness. What Plato and Aristotle do not address in their contradictory philosophies is that every human emotion reasoned or unreasoned is a fluctuating component of human existence. For example, in general, the death of a loved one by means of natural causes can never be reasoned to a level that will eventually bring happiness to all the living acquaintances of the deceased although there are instances that justify actions like “mercy killing” of a loved one who’s suffering by being alive (perhaps due to incurable illness) is worse than being peacefully dead.
“Love” is a human emotion that brings immense happiness and goodness, but more often than not defies logical reasoning and deviates from a contemplative approach to be expressed. The emotion of love though expressed differently is common between animals and human beings. Without love, both romantic and platonic; the earth would be a disastrous abode filled with unattended and under nourished children and miserable men and women with no motivation to endure or exist. We often hear people claiming that they cannot confer one specific reason as to why they love someone close to their heart, but merely associating with them brings tremendous happiness.
What I seek to establish is that, the pursuit of a distinctive function of man and consistent indulgence in that function does not ensure attaining the best good. Rather, it is clearly evident that each human being is different from the other in physical, social, emotional and intellectual regard. Although Aristotle dismisses any other view on happiness to be based on faulty assumptions, his claim appears to be made under the assumption that every human kind will be bestowed with the same privileges and resources by nature, which will assist them in pursuing that distinctive function to attain ultimate happiness. Happiness and goodness are not measurable therefore, limitless. Given the dynamism of human preferences which is affected by various external and internal factors like culture, maturity, IQ etc it is more reasonable to conclude that the source of attaining ultimate happiness is not confined to the one distinctive characteristic of human. Happiness belongs to a wider spectrum and cannot be linked to one specific course of action or state.
Levy D (1979). "The Definition of Love in Plato’s Symposium." Journal of History of Ideas: 14+. Web