Were someone to combine both careers, practicing politics at certain times and engaged in philosophical discussion at other times as Plato's philosopher-kings do , he would lead a life better than that of Aristotle's politician, but worse than that of Aristotle's philosopher. It is obscure what weakness of will would amount to on this construal of the practical syllogism. One may, for example, be excessively concerned with sex or insufficiently interested in it; the temperate person will take the appropriate degree of interest and be neither lustful nor frigid. He mentions among other factors the importance of money, friends, political power, even a decent level of physical attractiveness although he says nothing about other-worldly considerations like the love of God. The final theory to be considered here is an attempt to capture all that is good, while avoiding all the serious problems of the other theories discussed thus far. Furthermore, if the first term in the premises gives the reason for the action, then the reason to avoid sweets is the concern to be temperate, rather than the concern for health.
Nonetheless, Aristotle insists, the highest good, virtuous activity, is not something that comes to us by chance. Much more… 47e—48a Here Socrates argues that life is not worth living if the soul is ruined by wrongdoing. It ranges over topics discussed more fully in the other two works and its point of view is similar to theirs. To learn about the right principle, we must examine the intellectual virtues. Most importantly, Aristotle understood happiness as available to the vast majority us, but only, crucially, if we decide to apply ourselves to its creation—and he led by example.
What we need, in order to live well, is a proper appreciation of the way in which such goods as friendship, pleasure, virtue, honor and wealth fit together as a whole. Addressing the moral skeptic, after all, is the project Plato undertook in the Republic: in Book I he rehearses an argument to show that justice is not really a virtue, and the remainder of this work is an attempt to rebut this thesis. That one has to do with how you handle your resources. Practical wisdom, or prudence , is one of the five faculties by which people can grasp the truth. One of Plato's central points is that it is a great advantage to establish a hierarchical ordering of the elements in one's soul; and he shows how the traditional virtues can be interpreted to foster or express the proper relation between reason and less rational elements of the psyche.
Here we are engaged in ethical inquiry, and are not asking a purely instrumental question. When the total situation is appreciated, more than the two repugnant alternatives of the dilemma will emerge. My concern here is not the vexed question of the place of contemplation in the happy life. For example, consider a juror who must determine whether a defendant is guilty as charged. But it is the Stoics' critics, not the Stoics themselves, who maintain that the actual possession of these items is a necessary condition of the life according to nature. Flourishing, however, is a functional definition.
But more often what happens is that a concrete goal presents itself as his starting point—helping a friend in need, or supporting a worthwhile civic project. Although Aristotle characterizes akrasia and enkrateia in terms of a conflict between reason and feeling, his detailed analysis of these states of mind shows that what takes place is best described in a more complicated way. It is praiseworthy only if it can be shown that a self-lover will be an admirable citizen. The happy person will value contemplation above all, but part of his happy life will consist in the exercise of moral virtues in the political sphere and the enjoyment in moderation of the natural human pleasures of body as well as of soul. When reason remains unimpaired and unclouded, its dictates will carry us all the way to action, so long as we are able to act.
Is it the assumption that there are real life moral dilemmas? The best strategy for attaining a maximal amount of pleasure overall is not to seek instant gratification but to work out a sensible long term policy. Some small part of him is in a natural state and is acting without impediment 1152b35—6. These simple and essential questions have been with us for millennia and most of us find ourselves wondering about them as we mature. Why such a restricted audience? I similarly wrote about how Aristotle argues that wisdom should be pursued for its own sake. Second, in the akratic, it temporarily robs reason of its full acuity, thus handicapping it as a competitor. In one of several important methodological remarks he makes near the beginning of the Nicomachean Ethics, he says that in order to profit from the sort of study he is undertaking, one must already have been brought up in good habits 1095b4—6. Second, there is the idea that whenever a virtuous person chooses to perform a virtuous act, he can be described as aiming at an act that is in some way or other intermediate between alternatives that he rejects.
When feeling conflicts with reason, what occurs is better described as a fight between feeling-allied-with-limited-reasoning and full-fledged reason. Equipped with this disposition, the agent can assess the particular situation against the demands of the different virtues so as to form a balanced decision what to do. One must make a selection among pleasures by determining which are better. Before I turn to some of Gottlieb's more contentious and problematic claims, I have some concerns about the general approach of the study. If life is to be worth living, he argues, it must surely be for the sake of something that is an end in itself—i.
Aristotle's analysis of friendship supports the same conclusion. The possibility of exceptions does not undermine the point that, as a rule, to live well is to have sufficient resources for the pursuit of virtue over the course of a lifetime. But Aristotle gives pride of place to the appetite for pleasure as the passion that undermines reason. Let's proceed, without argument, on the assumption that it is possible to have a theory of one, general, kind of wisdom. Aristotle on Prudence In the , Aristotle takes a closer look at practical wisdom, and its relation to the political arts, to universal and particular knowledge, and to intuition. The highest level of the soul is occupied by mind or reason, the locus of thought and understanding.
Aristotle's search for the good is a search for the highest good, and he assumes that the highest good, whatever it turns out to be, has three characteristics: it is desirable for itself, it is not desirable for the sake of some other good, and all other goods are desirable for its sake. When things go south we might have to take counsel with Epictetus, or even Diogenes. Reeve takes up the second strategy, but still manages to make the text lucid and readable. One of his reasons for thinking that such a life is superior to the second-best kind of life—that of a political leader, someone who devotes himself to the exercise of practical rather than theoretical wisdom—is that it requires less external equipment 1178a23—b7. The only thing that I would like to add is that, at least as believers see it, there is an additional, and a very important dimension of our human lives that Aristotle left out in his Ethics, and that is the fact that we are also spiritual beings. Anger is a pathos whether it is weak or strong; so too is the appetite for bodily pleasures.