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Happy Lives and the Highest Good: An Essay on Aristotle's
     

Happy Lives and the Highest Good: An Essay on Aristotle's "Nicomachean Ethics"

by Gabriel Richardson Lear
 

ISBN-10: 0691126267

ISBN-13: 9780691126265

Pub. Date: 12/27/2005

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Gabriel Richardson Lear presents a bold new approach to one of the enduring debates about Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics: the controversy about whether it coherently argues that the best life for humans is one devoted to a single activity, namely philosophical contemplation. Many scholars oppose this reading because the bulk of the Ethics is

Overview

Gabriel Richardson Lear presents a bold new approach to one of the enduring debates about Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics: the controversy about whether it coherently argues that the best life for humans is one devoted to a single activity, namely philosophical contemplation. Many scholars oppose this reading because the bulk of the Ethics is devoted to various moral virtues—courage and generosity, for example—that are not in any obvious way either manifestations of philosophical contemplation or subordinated to it. They argue that Aristotle was inconsistent, and that we should not try to read the entire Ethics as an attempt to flesh out the notion that the best life aims at the "monistic good" of contemplation.

In defending the unity and coherence of the Ethics, Lear argues that, in Aristotle's view, we may act for the sake of an end not just by instrumentally bringing it about but also by approximating it. She then argues that, for Aristotle, the excellent rational activity of moral virtue is an approximation of theoretical contemplation.

Thus, the happiest person chooses moral virtue as an approximation of contemplation in practical life. Richardson Lear bolsters this interpretation by examining three moral virtues—courage, temperance, and greatness of soul—and the way they are fine. Elegantly written and rigorously argued, this is a major contribution to our understanding of a central issue in Aristotle's moral philosophy.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691126265
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
12/27/2005
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ix
CHAPTER ONE
Introduction 1
CHAPTER TWO
The Finality Criterion 8
1.Introduction 8
2.What It Is to Be an Aristotelian Telos 11
3.Teleology in the Nicomachean Ethics 15
4.Teleology, Desire, and Middle-Level Ends 31
5.The Puzzle in NE I.7 and Two Possible Solutions 37
6.Ackrill 's Inclusivist Solution 40
CHAPTER THREE
The Self-Sufficiency of Happiness 47
1.Self-Sufficiency: Three Problems for a Monistic Reading of Eudaimonia 48
2.Self-Sufficiency as a Mark of Finality 51
3.Self-Sufficiency in the Philebus 53
4.The Self-Sufficiency of Monistic Goods 59
5.Choiceworthiness and Self-Sufficiency 63
6.Self-Sufficient Happiness 69
CHAPTER FOUR
Acting for the Sake of an Object of Love 72
1.Love and Final Causation in Aristotle's Scientific Works 73
2.How Teleological Approximation Could Solve the Problem of Middle-Level Ends 85
3.Approximation in the Nicomachean Ethics 88
CHAPTER FIVE
Theoretical and Practical Reason 93
1.The Separateness and Similarity of Theoretical and Practical Reason 94
2.Theoretical Sophia versus Practical Wisdom 108
3.The Relationship of Phronésis to Theoretical Wisdom 115
CHAPTER SIX
Moral Virtue and To Kalon 123
1.To Kalon Outside Human Action 126
2.To Kalon in Human Action 130
3.The Account of Fine Action at Rhetoric I.9 133
4.To Kalon and Spirited Desire 137
CHAPTER SEVEN
Courage, Temperance, and Greatness of Soul 147
1.Courage: NE III.6-9 148
2.Temperance: NE III.1-12 162
3.Greatness of Soul: NE IV.3 168
CHAPTER EIGHT
Two Happy Lives and Their Most Final Ends 175
1.The Competition between the Philosophical and Political Lives 177
2.The Superior Finality of Contemplation 181
3.Human Approximation of Divine Life: Part One 188
4.Human Approximation of Divine Life: Part Two 193
5.Choosing Moral Virtue for the Sake of Contemplation 196
APPENDIX
Acting for Love in the Symposium 209
1.Possessing the Object of Love 209
2.The Intrinsic Value of Intermediate Objects of Love 216
Works Cited 221
Index Locorum 229
General Index 237

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