The Ethical Dimensions of Aristotle's Metaphysics

in Confronting Aristotle's Ethics

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780226283982
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226284019 | DOI:
The Ethical Dimensions of Aristotle's Metaphysics

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This chapter shows the profound metaphysical character of the idea that the moral virtues are political virtues, since we are forced to think about human nature and activity, and the place of humans in the cosmos. Happiness and virtue create their own enabling conditions, the conditions under which they can be successful. Since virtues become second natures, we need to know about their mode of reproduction. The virtuous person replicates himself through political activity, through developing conditions in which virtues can flourish. Leading a good life therefore depends on knowing the place of people in the universe. A sign of the distance between Aristotle's world and ours is that readers today impute to Aristotle such anachronisms as natural law or metaphysical biology. Instead, the examples of perfect activity at Metaphysics IX.6.1048b23–25—seeing, understanding, thinking, living well, and being happy—are all either uniquely human or shared between people and gods. Human practical activity completes the Metaphysics and the cosmos.

Keywords: metaphysics; moral virtues; political virtues; human nature; cosmos; happiness

Chapter.  11304 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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