ARISTOTLE’S VISION OF POLITICAL EUDAIMONIA QUA THE DIVINE IN ETHICA NIKOMACHEA

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Abstract

This paper firstly explores Aristotle’s moral vision of eudaimonia or ‘happiness’ in Ethica Nichomachea (EN). The ensuing discussion points out that the life of excellence (arête) in all classical Greek philosophy culminates in the attainment of eudemonic being, equivocating likeness to the divine to the highest possible degree. The paper goes on to disclose significant differences concerning happiness between the
moral and political philosophy of Aristotle and that of his predecessors, Socrates, and Plato. In turn, the present inquiry explores Aristotle’s claim in EN that the education of a sufficient number of citizens of superior refinement best accomplishes human flourishing in both the private and public spheres. According to Aristotle, the paramount achievement of eudaimonia in individuals and the city-state
happens through the moral and intellectual education of citizens of refinement in political science (politike episteme). Consequently, the present exploration carefully investigates the crux of Aristotle’s vision of educating citizens of quality as this aspect of his ethics best illumines the holistic aim scope and curriculum of his proposed study in politike episteme (the science integrating all sciences). Finally, the present endeavor explores the superiority that Aristotle allots to contemplative or divine theoria in the
latter part of his ethical treatise (Book X.7-8), where, he establishes a hierarchy between phrõnesis (practical wisdom) and theoria (contemplative wisdom), ascertaining the higher standing of the latter, a claim that inevitably leads him into paradox. Nevertheless, he also considers that perhaps contemplative wisdom surpasses divine reason, therefore, any form of duality between ‘lower’ and ‘higher’ between
praxis and theoria. As such, eudaimonia qua contemplation is the constitutive non-dual ground of the human soul that manifests itself in the eudaimon for the sake of happiness. Further, sublime theoria—its root enduring in theos—bears the ontological power of totality, therefore, may irretrievably potentiate complete conversion in the moral and spiritual life of the individual and so doing; appears to unite practical and theoretical wisdom in service to the divine in humans. The moral conversion qua divine
theoria is precisely the magnificence that effectually transforms the human psyche to an ennobled and integrated person of subtle self-refinement, in whom both practical excellence and contemplative wisdom cohere and benevolently reconcile, coalescing: into a single virtuous activity (Sophia) that benefits
humanity and the whole of the social and political order. This way, Aristotle seems to contend that the divine activity of contemplative wisdom spreading-out for the sake of the whole of human welfare annuls, perhaps, withdraws the appearance of hierarchy. However, his primary purpose in most of the text (from Book I to Book X.6-8) is to disclose ways that moral excellence and the intellectual study of political science may potentially elevate both individual and politeia to a more humane and constitutionally virtuous way of life. He appropriately reminds us that the uncovering of the divine element within us discloses not divine but human happiness (anthrõpinen eudaimonia)-, which given the direction of EN, essentially translates to individual and collective political eudaimonia qua the divine (theion ti).
Original languageEnglish
Article numberISSN: 1944-6934 :: 13(01):1–36 (2020)
Pages (from-to)1-36
Number of pages36
JournalInternational Journal of Arts & Sciences
Volume13
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2020
EventInternational Journal of Arts & Sciences : Annual International Conference in Malta - University of Malta, Valletta, Malta
Duration: 26 Jan 202030 Jan 2020
https://maltaconference2020.sched.com/

Keywords

  • Ethics, Eudaimonia, Psyche, Political Science, Meritorious citizens, Wisdom, divinity.

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