Divine and human happiness in nicomachean ethics

Philosophical Review 117 (1):49-75 (2008)
presents a puzzle as to whether Aristotle views morally virtuous activity as happiness, as book 1 seems to indicate, or philosophical contemplation as happiness, as book 10 seems to indicate. The most influential attempts to resolve this issue have been either monistic or inclusivist. According to the monists, happiness consists exclusively of contemplation. According to the inclusivists, contemplation is one constituent of happiness, but morally virtuous activity is another. In this essay I will examine influential defenses of monism. Finding these accounts superior to inclusivism, but still deficient, I will present and defend a dualistic account of happiness in which two different types of happiness, one divine and one human, are present in Nicomachean Ethics. When Aristotle commends contemplation as a happiness that humans can attain, he is careful to specify that this activity corresponds to a capacity (nous) that is not, properly speaking, human, even though humans can exercise it. Contemplation, the divine good, is the highest good that humans can obtain, but it is not the characteristic human good. The characteristic human good corresponds to the specifically and merely human function, which is an activity of the compound of human reason and emotions.
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DOI 10.1215/00318108-2007-024
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