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Lecture 5


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York University
PHIL 1100
Henry Jackman

PHIL 1100 LECTURE NOTES – FALL Week 5 – Aristotle - Essentially a contemporary Plato - Father was a Macedonian court doctor - Spent most of his life in Athens and Macedon due to family connection - Age 17 moved to Athens, and studied in Plato’s academy for 20 years - Was seen as an unsuitable replacement to Plato when he died - Age 48 set up his own school of philosophy known as the Lyceum in Athens - Age 61 charged with Impiety (charge Socrates faced) and flees Athens - Age 62 died - We have his ‘exoteric’ (popular works for general consumption – something like plato’s dialogues) – which were lost, and his esoteric works which were more for students like lecture notes Aristotle: “Happiness” as the goal of life - Two kinds of goods: o Instrumental goods: valued for the sake of something else  E.g. money – money is not good for its own sake, we value money because it can purchase other things  Something good as an instrument for acquiring something we want o Intrinsic goods: valued for their own sake  Will vary with person to person  Things can’t all be instrumental goods What is the ultimate goal of life? - “if … there is some end … which we desire for its own sake … and if we do not choose everything for the sake of something else … clearly this must be … the chief good. Will not the knowledge of it, then, have a great influence on life? o If we know what ultimate intrinsic good is, then that will make our life better o If all goals are not instrumental then there must be an ultimate goal – an ultimate intrinsic good Happiness - Happiness is the ultimate goal of human life – the thing we always pursue for its own sake and not for the sake of something else - “honor please, reason, and every virtue we choose indeed for themselves… but we choose them also for the sake of happiness…. o Even these intrinsic goods serve as instruments for something else (something can be both intrinsic and instrumental)  E.g. hate exercising but do it for benefits, but some find it pleasurable for its own sake - Continuation from previous quote: Happiness, on the other hand, no one chooses for the sake of … anything other than itself o Happiness is intrinsic and self-contained o If you have a happy life, that’s all you need o Ultimately honor, pleasure and reason are to be happy Happiness (Eudaimonia) not an Internal State - Happiness is the standard translation of eudaimonia but it is not the only one o E.g. well-being or doing well o Capture the idea that happiness or eudaimonia is not a purely psychological state o If happiness is just the feeling of being happy, like waking up feeling happy, that won’t capture what Aristotle means. He’s not talking about fleeting state - “neither ox nor horse nor any other of the animals happy…also a boy is not happy” o Animals and children are incapable of happiness o Lots of people think in a psychological state that animals can live happily/be happy and many people think the same of children o Aristotle takes this as something obvious that a child cannot be happy, because given the way eudaimonia is used in greek, it’s not a state that you just attribute to a child o When you think of happiness you think of a life lived well - “the fortunes of the descendants … have some effect on the happiness of their ancestors.” o Happiness as a state of life which is affected by events which clearly can’t affect your psychological state o Given that’s the case, the purely psychological reasoning of happiness won’t work - Eudaimonia is a state we’re all looking for, as it is the ultimate goal of life Happiness and Human Function Candidates for the Happy Life - Not psychological state – it has to do with living well; different people have different ideas of what living well refers to o Often involves what you don’t have at the time - Life of making money is not a candidate o No intrinsic value, only an instrumental good for consuming other things - Pleasure (appetitive life) - Honor (political life) - Wisdom (life of contemplation) - There three are the top candidates for what a happy life is - To determine which is the true one, Aristotle believes to look at the function of man The Function of Man - “a clearer account of what *happiness+ is … might perhaps be given, if we could first ascertain the function of man. o Conception that humans have a fixed nature (he’s a theorist of human nature btw), humans have a function – and that function determines what is a good life  E.g. a good knife is a good knife if it can cut well, because that’s what a good knife is considered to be do  E.g. what a good set of eyes has to do with seeing well, not with looking interesting o Aristotle has view that humans in general also have a function, so if we can find out this function, we can find out what made for a good human life - Being alive isn’t a function, because “life seems to be common even to plants…” - It can’t be our perception of life, because perception is “perception… seems to be common … to … every animal. o Seeing what’s around us, hearing things around us are things all sorts of animals do - Human function is “There remains, then, an active life of the element that has a rational principle. o Human’s only things in the world capable of rational thought, of reasoning o It is distinctively human, and if that is a human function then we should think of a good human life as fulfilling that function - “we state the function of man to be … an activity … of the soul implying a rational principle … if this is the case, human good turns out to be activity of soul in accordance with virtue o Virtue here is understood in a non-moral sense, it is not in accordance with rules of church or moral sense of virtue, but there is a much more generic sense of virtue  E.g. it is a virtue of the knife to be sharp, it is a virtue of a heart to beat regularly  Anything that has a function, has a virtue  Virtues are determined by functions Happiness and External Goods Three Types of Goods - Goods of the Soul o Good to be sane, smart, be in control of your passion - Goods of the Body o Good to have a healthy body - Goods of the ‘External’ o Who your family is, how much money you have – things which are independent of you, but viewed as goods o Socrates and plato played down value of external goods when It came to living a good life (suggesting they weren’t important) o Aristotle thinks that they are quite important External Goods - Necessary but not sufficient o no matter how many external goods you have, if you are not virtuous you won’t have a happy life, but they are still important - “it is … not easy, to do noble acts without the proper equipment … o External goods are like instruments that are needed o It is the activity of the soul o If you can’t afford armour, then you can’t find the army, and if you don’t join army you can’t display courage - “ .. and there are some things that the lack of which takes the luster from happiness … for the man who is very ugly in appearance or ill-born or solitary and childless is not very likely to be happy. o Most of these things are not in your [complete/guaranteed] control o Aristotle willing to say if the dice don’t roll your way, you won’t have a happy life - “a multitude of great events if they turn out well will make life happier .. while if they turn out ill they crush and maim happiness… Yet even in these nobility shines through. o Priam (noble king that had all the right virtues, that had misfortune who had a son that had all gr
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