Aristotle and Relationships at Work Essay

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Aristotle thought happiness was longer in coming, it was the manner of being actualized and fulfilling one's true potential using their own individual gifts:

Again, if the virtues are concerned with actions and passions, and every passion and every action is accompanied by pleasure and pain, for this reason also virtue will be concerned with pleasures and pains. This is indicated also by the fact that punishment is indicated by these means; for it is a kind of cure, and it is the nature of cures to be effected by contraries (Aristotle, III).

Humans, therefore, also exist in the macro sense as being agents of morality through their individual actions. but, human behavior being what it is, morality is only one of the facets of human's evolution towards happiness.

The wider notion of human agency presumably includes, besides actions and choices, emotional dispositions, non-moral or 'prudential' forms of practical reasons, imagination, the concept of attention, a sense (or lack) of self-worthy, insight and perception and a variety of other motor and cognitive skills and traits. A human agent is thus a combination of these and other factors, but from the point-of-view of act morality a moral agent. . . . [from that standpoint then humans] are what we do" (Ibid., 13).

In the modern working environment, people are hoped to be congenial. A positive workplace allows for fun and friendship, which then translates to a happier, more optimistic place to work. Instead of simply noting individual virtue ethics, we then have a broader spectrum of viral ethics. If the workplace as a whole has a culture based on trust, the validity of human resources, and a purpose, then the morality of the organization is not only enhanced, it becomes the culture. We can then extrapolate this into a more social setting in which interests between individuals are not always agreeable. For Aristotle and virtue ethics, this is natural. It is possible to see conflict as positive dissent, something to be encouraged and developed so that not only the individuals can grow and actualize, but the organization may too.

Too, one of the real standards of modern global business -- innovation, has its roots in Aristotelian virtue theory. For the modern business structure, as complex as it is, there are pressures for profit, growth, do more with less, and be competitive. This may, indeed, sound similar to Artistotle's approach toward human growth. Work hard, learn, grow, profit in many avenues without being greedy, respect dissent, compete fairly, and strive for a win-win situation.


The complexities of cultural life in the Ancient World are difficult, sometimes difficult to fathom for modern humans. In these bygone years, men were bound closely with one another in almost every aspect; certain more psychologically and intellectually intimate that even with their wives. The egalitarian principles of men, especially those who were well off enough to read and be concerned with works by Aristotle provided a way to explain why some of the virtues we so take for granted in the contemporary world had a clear, and hierarchical, sense of direction and substance. What matters is that the ideas of psychological closeness and permanence existed and were analyzed at this time as quite important, as opposed to a more modern notion that there is a clear separation between humans, and that the way to nurture friendship is only to have external commonalities (e.g. sports, etc.). Modern humans can learn from the Ancients though, where the possible was a goal, and the striving for that goal part of an expected and cherished set of mores -- and, according Aristotle, without pretext or guilt potential. In the modern workplace, then, we can be Aristotelian in our quest for happiness -- with the emphasis on process, not the complete result. The journey, the teaching event, the experience -- all work towards a state of good. The emphasis remains on process, continually evolving, not always easy, but completely necessary for the overall actualization of the individual, and therefore society…."it is not for everyone and not easy; wherefore goodness is both rare and laudable and noble" (IX).


What is a Great Workplace? (2012). Retrieved from:

Workplace Flexibility in the 21st Century. (2009). Society for Human Resource Management. Retrieved from:

Akril, J. (2010). Essays on Plato and Aristotle. New York: Oxford University Press.

Aristotle. (2007). Nicomachean Ethics. New York: NuVision.[continue]

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