Aristotle’s claims confuse me after watching the documentary on happiness during enrichment hour. Aristotle says that activities that contribute to happiness must be done for their own sake and not serve another purpose. A lot of the people featured in the documentary are involved in and find happiness in activities done for their own sake, like the man surfing and the man who finds joy in family. Others, however, found joy in other ways.
Where I found exceptions to Aristotle’s claims were in the cook and the man who lives on the river. The man who cooks loves his job and is happy to come to work every day; he finds joy in the act of cooking itself so he therefore finds joy in his job. His job, though, provides and income, so it’s not done only for its own purpose. Still, he finds true happiness doing his job. Similarly, the man who lives on the river survives off the land. He finds happiness living amongst nature, but he also has to catch crabs and find other forms of sustenance to feed his family. He finds happiness in going out on the river and catching the crabs, but that’s not the only reason he does it.
I think that these exceptions show that an activity can provide happiness sometimes even when it’s not done purely for its own sake. For example, even though having a dog can be taxing with feeding, walking, and cleaning up after him, I love having my dog. I have to take care of him so he continues to be healthy, but I get very real joy out of owning dogs.