Aristotle's "Nicomachean Ethics" is considered to be one of the most important treatises on ethics ever written. In an incredibly detailed study of virtue and vice in man, Aristotle examines one of the most central themes to man, the nature of goodness itself. In Aristotle's "Nicomachean Ethics," he asserts that virtue is essential to happiness and that man must live in accordance with the "doctrine of the mean" (the balance between excess and deficiency) to achieve such happiness.
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Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and scientist born in the city of Stagira, Chalkidice, on the northern periphery of Classical Greece. His father, Nicomachus, died when Aristotle was a child, whereafter Proxenus of Atarneus became his guardian. At eighteen, he joined Plato's Academy in Athens and remained there until the age of thirty-seven (c. 347 BC). His writings cover many subjects – including physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theater, music, rhetoric, linguistics, politics and government – and constitute the first comprehensive system of Western philosophy. Shortly after Plato died, Aristotle left Athens and, at the request of Philip of Macedon, tutored Alexander the Great starting from 343 BC. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, "Aristotle was the first genuine scientist in history ... [and] every scientist is in his debt."Translator, Commentaries and Glossary