Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics - important terms

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Mark Kingwell

ARISTOTLE: NICOMACHEAN ETHICS The Highest Good Aristotles argument that there must be a highest good (1.2): (1) We do not choose everything for the sake of something else. Proof: Otherwise there would be an infinite regress, which is clearly false. (2) If we do not choose everything for the sake of something else, then there is some end that we pursue for its own sake. (3) Hence there is some end that we pursue for its own sake [from (1) and (2)]. (4) If there is some end that we desire for its own sake, then this is the most complete end, i. e. everything else is pursued for the sake of it. (5) If there is a most complete end, then this will be the highest good, since we pursue it for its own sake. Therefore: There is a highest good [from (3), (4), (5)]. Each end is complete, but the first type is more compete (1.7): (1) The highest good must be a complete end. (2) Either (a) there is only one complete end, or (b) there are several complete ends. (3) If (a), then this is the highest good, and it is unique. (4) If (b), then they can be ordered in a scale from the least to the most complete. (5) The most complete will then be the highest good and, again, it will be the only one. Therefore: There is only one highest good. The Function Argument. Aristotle proposes that we could find out what happiness is if we grasp the characteristic activity (function) of a human being. First, note that we use evaluative terms of things other than human beings and their actions. In partic
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