Assignment Three : LUSENET : Walsh Intro to Philosophy : One Thread

In Aristotle's essay The Rational Life, there are many interesting points that are made. The one that I agree with the most is that happiness is considered to be an activity of the soul acting in accordance with virtues. It is an active, rather than a passive, process. We must strive for happiness by way of virtuous acts, as well as intellectual growth and reasoning. By doing good and thinking good, we become good.

There are many points, however, that I question or disagree with entirely. The first is when Aristotle speaks of the 3 prominent types of life: the vulgar (body and pleasure), the contemplative (the mind), and the political (manipulative). I believe that the latter type should be renamed the 'active' type, which would be one concerned with our actions and deeds.

Another point in which I must raise issue with is the idea that virtues do not arise within us, but rather that we 'receive' them from nature. This seems to indicate that virtue lies dormant within each of us until it is triggered by an outside factor. Are we to believe that all human beings have an equal measure of this potential for each of the virtues (which Aristotle does not bother to name)or that it varies within each of us? Perhaps some of us are unable to achieve a specific virtue at all.

Thirdly, if our activities determine who we are, when combined with our intentions, how is it that bad deeds are done by good people and good deeds by bad people? If goodness makes for a good person, and the opposite is true, how can any of us truly become good, and therefore happy? By Aristotle's own admission, such a life of contemplative happiness (which he espouses) is "too high for a man" to attain. Is this not an unreasonable expactation?

Also, happiness is considered to be self-sufficient, an end in and of itself. It is not a means, rather an end result. However, wouldn't happiness 'plus' something, say financial riches, be preferable? In this way, one would have the means to help others as well, which surely must be one of the most noteworthy of virtues.

Lastly, the idea that Aristotle makes that "reason more than anything else is man" is somewhat ambiguous. There are few proofs for this idea to be found among the 'common man'. A truer statement would seem to be that "reason more than anything else makes a man a philospher."

Many of these points may seem to be a manner of mere semantics, and not a total disagreement with Aristotle's basic principles, with which I do agree. However, I do believe that these are certainly some valid points for consideration.

-- Anonymous, February 20, 2000

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