Aristotle on Pursuits of Good, the Nature of Political Science, & Happiness

 

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Aristotle – The Nicomachean Ethics

 

Chapter I: The Object of Life

I. Every rational activity aims at some end or good. One end (like one activity) may be subordinate to another.

Arts, sciences, etc. All of these strive for the outcome of a good or purpose (Aristotle defines good as ‘that at which all things are aimed’), some activities are thus directly linked to outcomes that are done for a particular end goal in mind. Some are done for their own sake, while others are done for a ‘supreme good’. Aristotle uses the example of horse trapping being subordinate to horsemanship which is related to military action with the intended outcome being of victory. It doesn’t matter what you are doing only that all outcomes are recognized to be generally achieved for the good. Does it not follow, then, that a knowledge of the good is of great importance to us for the conduct of our lives? Are we not more likely to achieve our aim if we have a target? This is why Aristotle believes it is important to outline the definition of what is ‘Good’ and how that is achieved by these (or specific) activities.

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A Touch of Classical Wisdom III

Care for what you happen to have. Nothing can truly be taken from us. There is nothing to lose. Inner peace begins when we stop saying of things, “I have lost it” and instead say, “It has returned to where it came from.” Have your children died? They are returned to where they came from. Has your mate died? Your mate is returned to where he or she came from. Have your possessions and property been taken from you? They too have been returned to where they came from.
Perhaps you are vexed because a bad person took your belongings. But why should it be any concern of yours who gives your things back to the world that gave them to you?
The important thing is to take great care with what you have while the world let’s you have it, just as a traveler takes care of a room at an inn.

~The Art of Living, Epictetus; a Roman Stoic philosopher and teacher. (c. 55-135AD)