Monday, February 13, 2012

Ethics - Aristotle

Unlike Plato, this was my first reading of Aristotle. I've read about him certainly, but never directly followed up and read his text. Or, it should be said, the notes that were taken from his lectures and printed up as text. (If we ever get a time machine, one of the first missions should be to go back to Ancient Greece and get some recordings!)
The style of writing is very different than Plato's dialogues. Much denser. Most every paragraph I would have to circle back and reread to make sure I was really understanding what was written. So be gentle with me, fellow readers! If I missed a point or you have disagreement with my interpretation, please point it out.

Book One of 'Ethics' is largely a discussion on finding the greatest good. Aristotle considers several popular avenues and defines the greatest good as 'happiness'. Not, mind you, a search for 'slavish' pleasure but a deeper happiness. He considers this a great goal for the people and if it is great for the people, it is of course good for the state as well.
He looks at different paths to happiness. He puts aside the pursuit of wealth as a real goal since wealth is simply used towards other means. His solution is this:

Why then should we hall happy the man who works in the way of pefect
virtue, and is furnished with external goods sufficient for acting his part in
the drama of life: and this during no ordinary period but such as constitues a
complete life as we have been describing it.

This seems like a very reasonable answer to me.

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