Perfection and Happiness

Anthony Kenny

in Aristotle on the Perfect Life

Published in print July 1992 | ISBN: 9780198240174
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680106 | DOI:
Perfection and Happiness

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Happiness is the most perfect (teleion) of all things: it is chosen for its own sake and never for anything else; it is never chosen for the sake of honour, pleasure, understanding, or virtue. Perfection is given by Aristotle as a formal property which happiness must possess. However, he also makes use of the notion of perfection in giving his own definition of happiness after developing the argument from the function of man. Aristotle says that anyone who deserves the description kalos kagathos must have all the individual virtues, just as a body can only be healthy if all, or at least the main parts of it, are healthy. The word ‘perfect’ in both treatises (Nicomachean and Eudemian) can bear either of the meanings ‘complete’ or ‘final’. But in the definition of happiness the Nicomachean treatise places the emphasis on finality, while the Eudemian places the emphasis on comprehensiveness.

Keywords: perfect; happiness; Aristotle; Nicomachean; Eudemian; complete; final

Chapter.  2995 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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