Aristotle about a Perfect Happiness
As a consequence of having an active component of happiness is the possibility of differentiating and valuing it. Accordingly, the highest and most precious happiness can be obtained by those activities which “are desirable in themselves from which nothing is sought beyond the activity.” For Aristotle, examples of such activity are the virtuous actions because “to do noble and good deeds is a thing desirable for its own sake.” The philosopher goes further in his distinguishing the hierarchy of happiness, and points that the highest instance should be related to the realm of the human reason. Accordingly, for Aristotle, the perfect happiness can be obtained through the contemplative activity.
They are two reasons for this “firstly, this activity is the best (since not only is the reason the best thing in us, but the objects of reason are the best of knowable objects; and, secondly, it is the most continuous, since we can contemplate truth more continuously than we can do anything.”
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It is important to emphasise in this fragment one important element namely the prioritising the instance of the reason. Aristotle will say in another place that “If reason is divine, then, in comparison with man, the life according to it is divine in comparison with human life. Consequently, “the life according to reason is best and pleasantest since reason more than anything else is the man. This life, therefore, is also the happiest.”
Certainly, Aristotle’s position seems to be based on a thorough observation, however, if we follow his narration, the one group of people would be automatically deprived of the right to be happy. For the mentally challenged persons, the instance of reason faces substantial limitations. Obviously, there is a wide range of different levels of mental retardation; nevertheless, each one of them experiences some obstacles regarding their reason’s capability. Considering the mentally disabled persons, Aristotle seems to hold the position that perfect happiness is beyond their reach. It can be even assumed that for cases where the brain activity is severely impaired, any kind of happiness is impossible.