Cooper on ancient ethics

Polis 17 (1-2):161-185 (2000)
This review of John Cooper's fine collection of essays Reason and Emotion focuses mainly on his paper ‘Contemplation and Happiness: A Reconsideration.’ In this article, Cooper alters his view -- found in his book Reason and Human Good in Aristotle - on the relation between the accounts of happiness in Books I and X of the Nicomachean Ethics. He now aims for an interpretation which avoids inconsistency between the accounts of happiness in Books I and X, an interpretation which does not see Book X as allowing that the morally vicious thinker can be happy. I argue that Cooper does not succeed. For, on the one hand, he has Book I emphasise that all kinds of virtuous activity, and especially intellectual activity, are necessary for happiness. But in explaining how, for Aristotle, the unintellectual but morally virtuous kind of happy life can be happy, he asserts that Book X affirms that activity with a kinship to divine activity - for example, morally virtuous behavior on its own -- is sufficient for happiness. Hence, his interpretation has Book I assert and Book X deny that all kinds of virtuous behavior, and especially intellectual activity, are necessary for happiness. Also, by making activity with a kinship to divine activity sufficient for happiness in Book X, he commits Aristotle to happiness for the morally vicious thinker, since human intellectual activity on its own has a greater kinship to divine activity than morally virtuous action on its own
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