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Northwest Samar State University

Humanities 2-(Philosophy of Man)

Carlo Singua Inocentes

Instructor:Ramil Lanuza

I-Aristotle (384322 B.C.E.)

Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle was born circa

384B.C. in Stagira, Greece. When he turned 17, he
enrolled in Platos Academy. In 338, he began
tutoring Alexander the Great. In 335, Aristotle
founded his own school, the Lyceum, in Athens,
where he spent most of the rest of his life studying,
teaching and writing. Aristotle died in 322 B.C., after
he left Athens and fled to Chalcis. Aristotle had
contributed to logic, metaphysics, mathematics,
physics, biology, botany, ethics, politics, agriculture,
medicine, dance and theatre. He was a student of Plato who in turn studied under
Socrates. He was more empirically-minded than Plato or Socrates and is famous for
rejecting Plato's theory of forms.As a prolific writer and polymath, Aristotle radically
transformed most, if not all, areas of knowledge he touched. It is no wonder that
Aquinas referred to him simply as "The Philosopher." In his lifetime..
II- Aristotle: Ethics and the Virtues
The Goal of Ethics_
Aristotle applied the same patient, careful, descriptive approach to his examination
of moral philosophy in the (Nicomachean Ethics). Here he discussed the conditions
under which moral responsibility may be ascribed to individual agents, the nature of the
virtues and vices involved in moral evaluation, and the methods of achieving happiness

in human life. The central issue for Aristotle is the question of character or personality
what does it take for an individual human being to be a good person?
Every activity has a final cause, the good at which it aims, and Aristotle argued that
since there cannot be an infinite regress of merely extrinsic goods, there must be a
highest good at which all human activity ultimately aims. This end of human life could be
called happiness (or living well), of course, but what is it really? Neither the ordinary
notions of pleasure, wealth, and honor nor the philosophical theory of forms provide an
adequate account of this ultimate goal, since even individuals who acquire the material
goods or achieve intellectual knowledge may not be happy.
According to Aristotle, things of any variety have a characteristic function that they
are properly used to perform. The good for human beings, then, must essentially involve
the entire proper function of human life as a whole, and this must be an activity of the
soul that expresses genuine virtue or excellence. Thus, human beings should aim at a
life in full conformity with their rational natures; for this, the satisfaction of desires and
the acquisition of material goods are less important than the achievement of virtue. A
happy person will exhibit a personality appropriately balanced between reasons and
desires, with moderation characterizing all. In this sense, at least, "virtue is its own
reward." True happiness can therefore be attained only through the cultivation of the
virtues that make a human life complete.

Achieving Happiness
"Happiness depends on ourselves." More than anybody else, Aristotle enshrines
happiness as a central purpose of human life and a goal in itself. As a result he devotes
more space to the topic of happiness than any thinker prior to the modern era. Living
during the same period as Mencius, but on the other side of the world, he draws some
similar conclusions. That is, happiness depends on the cultivation of virtue, though his
virtues are somewhat more individualistic than the essentially social virtues of the
Confucians. Yet as we shall see, Aristotle was convinced that a genuinely happy life
required the fulfillment of a broad range of conditions, including physical as well as
mental well-being. In this way he introduced the idea of a science of happiness in the
classical sense, in terms of a new field of knowledge.
Essentially, Aristotle argues that virtue is achieved by maintaining the Mean, which is
the balance between two excesses. Aristotles doctrine of the Mean is reminiscent of

Buddhas Middle Path, but there are intriguing differences. For Aristotle the mean was a
method of achieving virtue, but for Buddha the Middle Path referred to a peaceful way
of life which negotiated the extremes of harsh asceticism and sensual pleasure seeking.
The Middle Path was a minimal requirement for the meditative life, and not the source
of virtue in itself.
In a particularly influential section of the Ethics, Aristotle considered the role of
human relationships in general and friendship {Gk. [philia]} in particular as a vital
element in the good life.
For without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods.
Differentiating between the aims or goals of each, he distinguished three kinds of
friendships that we commonly form.
A friendship for pleasure comes into being when two people discover that they have
common interest in an activity which they can pursue together. Their reciprocal
participation in that activity results in greater pleasure for each than either could achieve
by acting alone. Thus, for example, two people who enjoy playing tennis might derive
pleasure from playing each other. Such a relationship lasts only so long as the pleasure
A friendship grounded on utility, on the other hand, comes into being when two
people can benefit in some way by engaging in coordinated activity. In this case, the
focus is on what use the two can derive from each other, rather than on any enjoyment
they might have. Thus, for example, one person might teach another to play tennis for a
fee: the one benefits by learning and the other benefits financially; their relationship is
based solely on the mutual utility. A relationship of this sort lasts only so long as its
A friendship for the good, however, comes into being when two people engage in
common activities solely for the sake of developing the overall goodness of the other.
Here, neither pleasure nor utility are relevant, but the good is. Thus, for example, two
people with heart disease might play tennis with each other for the sake of the exercise
that contributes to the overall health of both. Since the good is never wholly realized, a
friendship of this sort should, in principle, last forever.
Rather conservatively representing his own culture, Aristotle expressed some rather
peculiar notions about the likelihood of forming friendships of these distinct varieties
among people of different ages and genders. But the general description has some

value nevertheless, especially in its focus on reciprocity. Mixed friendshipsthose in

which one party is seeking one payoff while the other seeks a different oneare
inherently unstable and prone to dissatisfaction.

1.Aristotle on the Perfect Life
By Anthony Kenny
Aristotle's teaching on the subject of happiness has been a topic of intense
philosophical debate in recent years; it is of vital importance to the question of
the relevance of his ethics in the present day. Aristotle's admirers struggle to read
a comprehensive account of the supreme happiness into the Nicomachean
Ethics; Kenny argues that those who are prepared to take the neglected
Eudemian Ethics seriously preserve their admiration intact without doing
violence to any of the relevant texts of the Nicomachean Ethics. Kenny has
refined his position on the relation between the two works, offering a fresh
examination and interpretation of the Eudemian Ethics on the basis of the 1991
Oxford Classical Text. He combines scholarly discussion of the Greek texts with
reflection of the topics covered by Aristotle, taking account of post-Aristotelian
treatments of themes such as moral vocation and moral luck.
2. Aristotle's Conception of Freedom
By Long, Roderick T.
Aristotle for Liberals. In the present struggle between liberals and communitarians,(1) it
is most often the communitarians who are seen bearing the standard of Aristotle. Yet
liberalism's Aristotelian roots are deep; a continuous line of influence can be traced from
Aristotle through the Scholastics to Locke and Jefferson (the natural law strand), and
alongside it a parallel line from Aristotle through Polybius to Montesquieu and Madison
(the constitutionalist strand).(2) Fred Miller's recent book Nature, Justice, and Rights in
Aristotle's Politics(3) is the latest in a growing number of attempts to reclaim the
Aristotelian heritage, at least in part, for liberalism. As a fellow laborer in the same field,
(4) I very much admire what Miller has accomplished in his book.

In particular, Miller argues persuasively for attributing to Aristotle thee following theses-theses traditionally rejected by communitarians as liberal innovations antithetical to the
Aristotelian point of view:(5)
a) individuals have rights;
b) these rights are natural, not merely legal or conventional;
c) these rights forbid any sacrifice of the individual's interests to the interests of the
d) the state has an obligation to respect and protect these rights;
e) in order to secure these rights, the state's constitutional structure should be arranged
so as to provide checks on governmental power;
f) legitimate political authority rests on the consent of the governed; and
g) a government that fails to respect the rights of its citizens may legitimately be
I believe Miller's case for attributing these seven theses to Aristotle is sound, and I shall
accept it as my starting point. However, in my opinion Miller does not go far enough;
Aristotle's, affinity with modern liberal theory can be made even stronger. In particular, it
can be shown that on four points Miller makes unnecessary concessions to the
communitarian interpretation of Aristotle:
Concession One: Aristotle, unlike the modern liberal, countenances no
right to do wrong.
Concession Two: Aristotle, unlike most liberal natural-rights theorists,
recognizes no rights existing in a "state of nature."

Concession Three: Aristotle, unlike the modern liberal, regards liberty

as having only an instrumental and peripheral value.
Concession Four: Aristotle, unlike the modern liberal, assigns no
central place to autonomy in his conception of rights.
All four of these concessions can be shown to be mistaken--in part on grounds that
Miller himself provides.
No attempt will be made to argue that Aristotle is a liberal. Clearly, he is not. In
particular, his attachment to what Miller calls the Principle of Community and the
Principle of Rulership must effectively bar him from the liberal ranks.(6) Moreover,
Aristotle is willing to place serious restrictions on rights that liberals have traditionally
held dear, including freedom of speech,(7) freedom of religion,(8) freedom of exchange,
(9) and reproductive freedom.(10)
Aristotle, however, is a complex thinker, and his normative social theory contains both
liberal and communitarian tendencies, often closely intertwined. The claim to be
defended here is simply that the liberal, individualist strand in Aristotle is still more
robust than even Miller is prepared to maintain.
Does Aristotle Recognize a Right to Do Wrong? Miller's First Concession is that
Aristotle, unlike the modern liberal, countenances no right to do wrong. Is this
concession correct?
In the course of arguing for the thesis that Aristotle has a theory of rights--thesis (a)-Miller considers an objection by Terence Irwin.(11) Irwin suggests that if rights are to
have any genuine ethical punch--if they are to be "the kind of rights which are morally
distinctive in that their possession and exercise cannot be replaced by other people's

benevolence or sense of duty to the right-holder"(12)--they must have the following

If X has a right to A, then A is due to X, or X is morally entitled to A,
whether or not we regard A's having X as morally best over all.

Reference: Ethics, tr. by Terence Irwin
(Hackett, 1985)
Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.