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Exploring the Essence of Success: A Philosophical Approach

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Ava Stevens
  • Icon Calendar 18 May 2024
  • Icon Page 650 words
  • Icon Clock 4 min read
English (United States)
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Success is a complex, varying concept that has fascinated people for centuries. The essence of triumph can be delved from a philosophical perspective, drawing insights from three prominent theorists. The rational notions of success not only shed light on its multi-dimensional nature but also challenge conventional concepts prevalent in contemporary society. Aristotle, Kant, and Nietzsche offer unique definitions of success, emphasizing contentment, moral duty fulfillment, and self-overcoming for a fulfilling life.

Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics

Aristotle, a famous ancient Greek philosopher, emphasized the pursuit of eudaimonia, often translated as flourishing or well-being, as the ultimate goal of human life. In Aristotle’s virtue ethics, thriving is the final, objective purpose for which all other goals are sought (Papouli 2019 p. 924). The view is based on his comprehension of human nature, purpose, and potentiality. He also argues that the eventual human drive aligns with people’s unique ability to reason and live a life guided by rationality. According to Aristotle, welfare is linked to living a fulfilling life, both individually and socially, and is seen as an all-encompassing notion (Papouli 2019 p. 924). Basically, success exists in harmony with one’s virtues and potential, cultivating and practicing various abilities, like courage, wisdom, and temperance, for a fulfilled life. Aristotle’s philosophical approach to success focuses on inward character development and human capacity rather than external achievements. Hence, Aristotle’s concept of eudaimonia offers a holistic and inward-focused approach to achieving a rewarding life.

Exploring the Essence of Success: A Philosophical Approach

Immanuel Kant’s Moral Philosophy

Immanuel Kant, an influential figure in modern philosophy, proposed a deontological ethical framework centered on duty and moral obligations. For example, Kant’s moral autonomy is manifested in moral actions that meet obligations and respect others’ rights, well-being, and dignity based on informed reason and principled commitments (Wolemonwu 2019, p. 225). He defines success as fulfilling one’s moral duty rather than attaining specific goals or outcomes. By acting per these ethical principles, individuals achieve success through moral worthiness and fulfilling their ethical responsibilities, regardless of external consequences or rewards. Therefore, Kant’s moral philosophy posits that true success is attained by fulfilling one’s moral duty and ethical tasks rather than achieving external goals or rewards.

Friedrich Nietzsche’s Existentialism

Friedrich Nietzsche, a philosopher known for his critique of traditional values, offered a unique perspective on accomplishment through his existentialist philosophy. For instance, Nietzsche emphasized progress, commitment, and strength for self-cultivation, encouraging a heroic attitude toward life and striving for one’s greatest aspirations (Sasan 2023, p. 45). It is Nietzsche’s concept of self-overcoming, which is the path to genuine success that involves transcending one’s limitations, embracing life’s challenges, and continually striving to become the best version of oneself. The process is deeply personal, and success is not measured by external achievements but by people’s ability to affirm their existence and create their values beyond societal norms and conventions. As a result, Nietzsche’s existentialism presented a distinctive perspective on success through self-overcoming and personal growth.


Success is a complex concept explored through the theoretical viewpoints of Aristotle, Kant, and Nietzsche. Aristotle emphasizes prosperity through the harmonious cultivation of virtues. On the other hand, Kant defines success as achieving one’s ethical duties. In turn, Nietzsche considers success through self-overcoming and personal growth, challenging materialistic definitions and reassuring a nuanced pursuit of a fulfilling life.

Reference List

Papouli, E 2019, ‘Aristotle’s virtue ethics as a conceptual framework for the study and practice of social work in modern times’, European Journal of Social Work, vol. 22, no. 6, pp. 921–934, viewed 14 July, DOI: 10.1080/13691457.2018.1461072.

Sasan, JM 2023, ‘Existentialism and its influence on our understanding of knowledge, truth, morality, values, and religion’, European Journal of Learning on History and Social Sciences, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 40–48. Available from: <http://e-science.net/index.php/EJLHSS/article/view/11/10>. [Accessed 14 July 2023].

Wolemonwu, VC 2019, ‘Richard Dean: The value of humanity in Kant’s moral theory’, Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, vol. 23, no. 2, pp. 221–226, viewed 14 July, DOI: 10.1007/s11019-019-09926-2.

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