Upon reading Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, I initially thought that human virtue was to be happy, to achieve happiness. The ultimate end, the final cause, according to Aristotle would be to achieve happiness in one's life. On gaining a better understanding to Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics, I've found that in reality, human virtue is so much more than achieving happiness.
Human virtue is about disposition, skill. It is about the ability for something to function. For example, the virtue of a kitchen knife is to cut. Now if the knife becomes dull, then it loses its ability to cut. Losing its ability to cut means that the knife has lost its virtue.
Does human virtue derive from functioning or happiness? Human virtue derives from functioning. Functioning plays a big part in human virtue. Why? Because if the only reason we did things was to be happy, then we wouldn't do may of the things that we do in life. With the proper functioning, happiness is achieved. The very nature of happiness depends on the function. The goodness of an act or a function is the goodness that is appropriate to that function.
Happiness is about skill and achievement. Someone is happy when they achieve something. This sis so because someone who is always happy and doesn't achieve anything, is not as happy as someone who may be unhappy and achieves something. Even if what this person achieved is achieved out of unhappiness, he's still happy in the end.
Skill brings about happiness also. Happiness is achieved through skill in that people would be happy doing works as long as the work that they"re doing is something they"re skilled in. Just as long as the work uses their specific talents, happiness is achieved. .
For example, someone who is a pianist wouldn't mind going to work to play with an orchestra. Someone can't be a pianist (virtue) unless they learn to play the piano (function). Why? Because as a pianist, playing the piano is someone's skill and by playing with the orchestra, this person gets to use their specific talents.