“Wealth Is Evidently Not the Good We Are Seeking” Aristotle

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“Wealth is evidently not the good we are seeking” Aristotle Introduction One of the greatest philosophers of the 19th century, Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), once said “Money is a barrier against all possible evils. ” Indeed, money can be used for good and the acquisition of money can be done in a moral and upright way. He advises the reader to restrain from striving for wealth, since a lot of money does not make one very happy, and he also does not believe that wealth is important for happiness. For instance, one man can be satisfied with small wage, whereas another man will feel poor with twice the amount.

As a matter of course we need enough wealth to live, but more is not necessary. Wealth can free us from working, but for many people this is not a blessing as most people would be terribly bored. Everybody needs a basic income to be able to survive, but after that, wealth is very relative. This view is corroborated in the findings of contemporary empirical research. [1] Money can prevent the suffering from poverty like cold and hunger. Sickness can be relieved by money as well as giving away money to charity can also bring us the satisfaction of relieving others from suffering.

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It is harsh to deny the importance of wealth in our lives. However, we should not accumulate our wealth just for money’s sake only, and we should also have a goal or plan for using our money wisely in order to obtain happiness of our lives. What is happiness? Aristotle holds that a happy life must include pleasure, and he therefore opposes those who argue that pleasure is by its nature bad. He insists that there are other pleasures besides those of the senses, and that the best pleasures are the ones experienced by virtuous people who have sufficient resources for excellent activity.

Aristotle does remind us that virtuous activity is impeded by the absence of a sufficient supply of external goods (1153b17–19). Human happiness does not consist in every kind of pleasure, but it does consist in one kind of pleasure—the pleasure felt by a human being who engages in theoretical activity and thereby imitates the pleasurable thinking of god. Aristotle’s discussion of pleasure thus helps confirm his initial hypothesis that to live our lives well we must focus on one sort of good above all others: virtuous activity. It is the good in terms of which all other goods must be understood. 2] Aristotle also says briefly but powerfully by arguing that money is always for the sake of something else and hence cannot be the end we seek. [3] Aristotle believes that what we need, in order to live happy life, is a proper appreciation of the way in which such goods as friendship, pleasure, virtue, honour and wealth fit together as a whole by practice, deliberative, emotional, and social skills that enable us to put our general understanding of well-being into practice in ways that are suitable to each occasion (Kraut, Richard).

The Current downfalls The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), for example, is founded on the theory that ethical behavior and transparent financial transactions are essential to insure that the spirit of GAAP is followed and markets are making decisions based on the economic realities faced by an organization rather than illusions. People employed in an unethical corporation have an increased likelihood of stealing from their employers, participating in threats or commission of violence, engaging in fraud or sabotage.

Many senior managers had colluded to hide the facts and true picture of their business dealings and financial conditions, while enriching themselves beyond the imaginations of most people. Management failures were not limited to financial manipulation, but also included fiduciary failures, negligence, and customer deceit. [4] We could blame on the greed and dishonesty of many senior executives, who controlled the decisions and had the knowledge of what was going on. Some people have said that “greed is good” however, greed is “excessive self-interest” that is bad.

The greed and dishonesty of many auditors and accountants should be identified as a major contributor to the current environment. How many companies Arthur Andersen got in trouble with because of its questionable audit work? Who can you trust if you cannot trust a major accounting firm? We also need to point out the failure of government regulators and agencies to enforce existing laws and to prosecute those who broke the law hiding their crimes that should have been more strictly dealt with, and inappropriate corporate governance that leads to the top executives’ greed and accumulation of wealth. 5] Aristotle’s Ethics and Business Looked from an Aristotelian perspective, the divorce between ethics and economics seems inevitable rather than extraordinary, ethics and economics should have come apart, they should have proved so hard to reconcile. What should seem surprising is that they should ever have been thought to be connected. [6] Turning to Aristotle’s nicomachean Ethics, the ancient philosopher forces one to ask oneself tough questions and to abandon youthful fantasies about money, power and fame.

Critique exists in Aristotelian terms the values, life choices and deeds of prominent “successful” Americans, including Rudolph Giuliani, Bill Gates, Silicon Valley legend Jim Clark, high-tech entrepreneur Larry Ellison and numerous leading CEOs. The application of Aristotelian principles to the business world is thought provoking and engaging. [7] Aristotle also states that every art and every investigation, and likewise every pursuit and every action, aims at some good; therefore, the good has been defined as the object at which everything aims. Aristotle further states that there in not one single good.

As there are many sciences and branches of knowledge, there are correspondingly numerous ends at which they aim (Aristotle, 350 B. C. E. ). For instance, the aim of medicine is producing health; the economics is acquiring wealth, etc. or honor. While the definition varies among people, even the same person may sometimes give different definitions (Aristotle, 350 B. C. E. ). For example, when a person is ill, he identifies happiness with health, and he identifies it with wealth when he is poor. [8] The same person might have different opinions on what is happiness from time to time.

Wealth can be the good we are seeking if we were in need of money desperately as well as a mean of attaining happiness after all. However, Aristotle insists that wealth robs people of leisure and that it is apt to become so engrossing as to make people lose sight of the fact that money is just a means to happiness rather than an end in itself (1257b34-1258a14). We see Aristotle as defending a universal conception of the good life, according to which happiness is coterminous with the exercise of the virtues, both moral and intellectual.

In business, the relevant moral virtues are courage, self-control, liberality, magnificence, magnanimity, sociability, and justice. With his discussion of the intellectual virtues of prudence and wisdom, Aristotle’s ethics culminates with the teaching that the best use of the mind consists in leading organizations and, more so, in philosophically searching the truth. As such, affording individuals chances to apply their leadership skills and engage in philosophic reflection constitutes the most important mission of Aristotelian business ethics. [9] Conclusion

If you asked an American corporation what it would do with an unlimited amount of wealth, the answer could be endless: increase of stock holder dividends, a new budget for research and development, open new offices, hire more employees, expand the plant, invest in other companies with a bright future, etc. while philosophers seem hesitant about trying to predict how Aristotle would advise major corporations 2000 years after his death. [10] There is no reason for people to assume that Aristotle would be anti-business and anti-profit today based on him 2000 years ago.

It would be inappropriate to use his thought as a blanket disapproval of business and profits. However, we have to admit that Aristotle lived 2000years ago and Ancient Athens was basically an agrarian and military society where the rulers were not concerned with the creation of wealth. In the mean time, money is a good servant, but a bad master, and unchanging truth is that wealth should not be the good we ultimately seek for our happiness but lubrication for machine.

Business education can be effective in changing student awareness of business ethics and moral issues by promoting students’ ability to handle complex ethical decision making, and the education changes student attitudes towards business ethics from scepticism to an understanding of the scope of ethical issues.

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“Wealth Is Evidently Not the Good We Are Seeking” Aristotle. (2016, Dec 12). Retrieved from


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