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Aristotle’s View on Happiness Found in the Nicomachean Ethics: Analytical Overview

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Aristotle was a Greek philosopher that lived in the fourth century BC of Ancient Greece. He spent his life analyzing different philosophical texts; which led to his work on a good human life and happiness. Aristotle believed that in order to achieve a good human life we must be a good human being through our actions. In the film, Groundhog Day, we meet a weatherman, Phil Connors, who repeats the weather countless times on February 2nd. As Phil continues to repeat his day, he begins to perform acts of wrongdoing, because he knows that he will not be held accountable for his actions. Eventually, Phil gets tired of repeating the same things, so he finds ways to kill himself. Phil’s co-worker, Rita, explains to him that he should not kill himself, and instead try to improve his lifestyle. Throughout the film we see a change in Phil’s moral and personality, because he goes from being lost himself and through his improved choices, Phil finds a new purpose for life. In this essay I will discuss the film, Groundhog Day, and compare this film to Aristotle’s view on happiness found in the Nicomachean Ethics.

The film, Groundhog Day, resembles Aristotle’s view on the good life and happiness, because we see Phil Connors transform from being an unhappy person to someone that has found their happiness through their new view on life. The beginning of the film starts with Phil being unhappy with his job, and feeling like he has no purpose in his life. As the film progresses, we see that Phil is given multiple chances to find happiness throughout this moment, and through those chances, he ends up finding what it truly means to discover happiness and virtue.

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Phil Connors was stuck on the day, February 2nd, and the day kept repeating and repeating. In the beginning, Phil took part in bad acts, because he knew that there would be no consequences. If Phil were to kill someone, steal, or perform other bad parts; it would not matter because Phil will repeat the day with a clean slate. Phil is living in a world that is free from consequences. However, repeating these bad acts can take a toll on our mental health, because we are performing the same kind of acts, and repetition alone can lead to frustration.

Aristotle believes that there are two types of virtue, “intellectual and moral, and they are both achieved by repeating actions of virtue” (Nicomachean Ethics). Phil was able find true happiness and virtue, because as he kept repeating his day, Phil realized through his mistakes and with the help of Rita, that he need to perform actions that will have an impact on not only himself but those that surround him. This film shows the similarities between the happiness Phil experiences as well as the conceptions of happiness found in the Nicomachean Ethics. Phil demonstrates both intellectual and moral virtues. For example, when Phil help older women change their flat tires, he showed actions of moral virtue. This an example of moral virtue, because Phil acquired this virtue through repetition of being able to help others. Another example is when Phil was able to learn a new foreign language. This would be an example of intellectual virtue, because this virtue is typically taught by others and not just attained through repetition; which is how Phil was able to learn the language.

At the end of the film, Phil realizes all of the different motivations that helped him act morally to his own desires in life. Rita played a large role in helping Phil realize the bigger purposes in life, and that is to perform actions that will bring you the utmost happiness. She believed that if Phil took part in activities that improved his life then he will find virtue and happiness. One of Phil’s strongest motivation was his self-realization and his desire for true happiness.

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Aristotle’s View on Happiness Found in the Nicomachean Ethics: Analytical Overview. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/aristotles-view-on-happiness-found-in-the-nicomachean-ethics-analytical-overview/
“Aristotle’s View on Happiness Found in the Nicomachean Ethics: Analytical Overview.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/aristotles-view-on-happiness-found-in-the-nicomachean-ethics-analytical-overview/
Aristotle’s View on Happiness Found in the Nicomachean Ethics: Analytical Overview. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/aristotles-view-on-happiness-found-in-the-nicomachean-ethics-analytical-overview/> [Accessed 8 Feb. 2023].
Aristotle’s View on Happiness Found in the Nicomachean Ethics: Analytical Overview [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 27 [cited 2023 Feb 8]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/aristotles-view-on-happiness-found-in-the-nicomachean-ethics-analytical-overview/
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