Life Philosophy in “Nicomochaen Ethics” and “Exodus”

“Nicomochaen Ethics” is a piece of work consisting of ten books written by Aristotle. It is considered one of the best ethical treatises ever written and presents a broad exploration of the way a man should live a life (Miller 1). “Exodus” is the book included in the Old Testament of the Bible. It tells the story of the Israelites leaving Egypt, which is regarded by many specialists as a real historical event (Matheny 18).

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The book explores the laws aimed to guide the righteous life of people devoted to God. Both works explore the eternal theme of the purpose of human life and the righteous way to live it and help to discover Greek philosophical approach and Jewish faith approach to existence.

Fundamental Principles

The fundamental principle formulated in “Nicomochaen Ethics” reflects the statement that the highest value in human life is the supreme good (Zunjic par.5). The supreme good is regarded as happiness. It is justified by the notion that everything in our life can be considered good only if it makes us happy.

The fundamental principle formulated in “Exodus” reflects the statement that the highest value in human life is the commitment to God’s covenant and obedience to his laws. This principle is justified by the notion that following the rules given by God and avoiding any disobedience are considered the ultimate purpose of human life.

The Problems with Starting from a Philosophical Perspective

In “Nicomochaen Ethics”, Aristotle attempts to deal with the problem of defining the highest value of human life. He addresses the Theory Forms and claims that considering truth the highest value is inappropriate (Aristotle 6). He also explores the nature of the Good that should be studied by ethics and insists on the necessity to discover the practical philosophy instead of relying on theory. The author tries to define the purpose of human life.

Happiness, which is considered the ultimate factor able to determine whether the nature of a thing is good or not, is considered the ultimate purpose of our life. The author search for appropriate criteria (virtues), examines them, and applies his original criteria arguing that intellectual activity as an expression of the virtue is the ultimate goal of human life (Pakaluk 2).

The Problems with Starting from a Faith Perspective

“Exodus” presents the problem with starting from a faith perspective. The book explores the causes of human suffering and insists on the necessity to follow God’s covenant to receive his mercy. In this work, the highest value of human life is defined as obedience to God’s laws, and human happiness in its general sense does not appear to be the ultimate goal.

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However, God promises his people to support them and provide with everything necessary for a happy life if they demonstrate strong faith. Therefore, though the happiness is not regarded as the highest value of human life, it is provided by God if the ultimate goal, a strong commitment to the covenant, is achieved.

The Benefits that Derive from a Philosophical Analysis of the Purpose of Life

The philosophical analysis of the purpose of life presented in “Nicomochaen Ethics” has several benefits. The philosophical approach regards human happiness as the ultimate goal and gives a clear explanation of how to achieve it. The author defines appropriate virtues as the cornerstones of the successful finding of happiness by any person.

Though the author considers the virtues as the dispositions that are given to a person from birth, his extensive explanation of their specifics and corresponding vices suggest that certain attempts to stick to the behavioral patterns typical for each of the virtue can help to achieve happiness. Therefore, following the rules defining the righteous virtues benefit humans with a happy life.

The Benefits that Derive from a Faith Orientation toward Life

Faith orientation toward life encouraged by “Exodus” also has distinctive benefits. The Israelites are encouraged to lead the life that is faith-orientated by the willingness to make actions that are pleasing to God and can help to gain his mercy. The main benefit of such life is being considered a faithful and righteous person by the Creator.

Though such approach does not focus on human happiness in common sense, it suggests that God will demonstrate his mercy and benefit the faithful people with good life, as he is described as “kind” and rewarding those who fear him and follow his covenant (Holy Bible: New International Version, Exodus 20).

Evaluation of the Approaches

The philosophical approach to life and Jewish faith approach to human existence appear to be founded on different beliefs. While Greek philosophy regards humans as the central figures of the world Jewish approach puts God in the center. Human happiness is considered the ultimate value and purpose of human life by Aristotle while “Exodus” defines obedience to God’s laws as the major purpose of human life. However, obedience to God’s laws suggests the possibility of achieving happiness though it is not regarded as the main goal.

It is rather difficult to define which of the approaches is superior, as they are based on different worldviews. The philosophical approach is more likely to be regarded as the superior one by people considering happiness the main objective of life while the faith approach is more likely to be regarded as the superior one by religious people regarding following God’s rules and aspiring to eternal life after death as the goal of their life.

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Analysis of “Nicomochaen Ethics” and “Exodus” reveals the specifics of defining the purpose of human life by philosophical and faith-orientated approaches.

Works Cited

Aristotle. Nicomochaen Ethics. Trans. Carl Reeve. Indianapolis, Indiana: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2014. Print.

Holy Bible: New International Version. Biblica, Inc. 2011. Web.

Matheny, Garry. Exodus. Maitland, Florida: Xulon Press, 2011. Print.

Miller, Jon. Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics: A Critical Guide. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Print.

Pakaluk, Michael. Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics: An Introduction. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Print.

Zunjic, Bob. Aristotle. The Nicomachean Ethics. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2020, May 12). Life Philosophy in “Nicomochaen Ethics” and “Exodus”. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/life-philosophy-in-nicomochaen-ethics-and-exodus/

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