This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
By Patrick McEvoy-Halston May 2004 Aristotle sometimes portrays the “money life” as a life only “cattle” (317) would choose, that is, as a way of life whose goal is the satisfaction of animalistic, base desires. But Aristotle at other times tells us we need wealth in order to exercise our moral virtues. He even asserts that “wealth is to be sought” (405) because “[t]he practice of generosity consists in the use made of money” (449). Yet it is still true that Aristotle believes in order for “man” to live a fulfilled life he cannot busy himself with the pursuit of money, for in order to live a fulfilled life he must exercise what is best in him, that is, his intellectual virtues, not his moral ones. Aristotle argues that man possesses three different “sides” (415): the animalistic, the human, and the divine. Though we might think that the telos of man would involve the realization of his specifically human nature, it is more accurately conceived as the realization of his (women are excluded?) divine potential. Our goal, according to Aristotle, “[a]s far as is possible, [. . .] [is to] become immortal and do everything toward living by the best that is in us” (416). Our aim is to “achieve” eudamania, that is, to be blessed in the eyes of the gods; and it is therefore not surprising that we become blessed when we exercise our intellectual virtues, for they constitute the divine in us. We should not, therefore, be concerned about our moral virtues, for though they are praiseworthy to humans, “all moral acts are petty and unworthy of the gods” (417). And we most certainly should not devote ourselves to money-making, for though life necessitates that men to some extent concern themselves with money, gods would look “ridiculous [. . .] making contracts, returning deposits, and so forth” (417). What we must do is mimic the gods and occupy ourselves as they do, that is, we must strive to a leisured life, one spent exercising our intellectual virtues in contemplation of the divine. Such a life does not aim at happiness; it “achieves” it in the sense that “things that have the activity of contemplation have happiness, [. . .] [for contemplation, like eudamania,] is valuable in itself”
(418). We must aim for a life, therefore, opposite to both the moneyed and the political life, for both are “full of work” (415), both are preoccupied with the practical necessities of life, and both are ones in which intellectual virtues remain largely “[a]sleep or [. . .] inactive” (317). Work Cited Aristotle. The Philosophy of Aristotle. Comp. Renford Bambrough. Eds. J.L. Creed and A.E. Wardman. New York: Signet, 2003.