Contemplation and Action within the Context of the Kalon: A Reading of the Nicomachean Ethics

Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 83:173-182 (2009)
  Copy   BIBTEX


In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle seems to take it for granted that the contemplative man is morally virtuous. Yet in certain passages he suggests that morally virtuous actions can impede contemplation. In this paper I examine the relationship between contemplation and morally virtuous action in Aristotleā€™s ethics. I argue that, when understood within the context of the motivating power of the kalon, contemplation and morally virtuous action are related to one another in such a way that one cannot be contemplative without being morally virtuous and vice versa. I begin by showing how eudaimonia is used in the Nicomachean Ethics to interpret the erga kai ho bios, that is, lived experience, and to bring to light the kalon as the motive for morally virtuous actions. I argue that since the kalon is also the motive for contemplation, morally virtuous action and contemplation imply one another.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 78,003

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Divine and human happiness in nicomachean ethics.Stephen S. Bush - 2008 - Philosophical Review 117 (1):49-75.
Aristotle on well-being and intellectual contemplation: David Charles.David Charles - 1999 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 73 (1):205–223.
Aristotle on well-being and intellectual contemplation: Dominic Scott.Dominic Scott - 1999 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 73 (1):225–242.
Cooper on ancient ethics.R. Heinaman - 2000 - Polis 17 (1-2):161-185.
On the Eudemian and Nicomachean Conceptions of Eudaimonia.Roopen Majithia - 2005 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 79 (3):365-388.
Wisdom and Action Guidance in the Agent-Based Virtue Ethics of Aristotle.S. Thomas Sherman - 2006 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 80 (4):481-506.
Contemplation and the Moral Life in Confucius and Aristotle.Sean Drysdale Walsh - 2015 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 14 (1):13-31.
Right action and the non-virtuous agent.Liezl van Zyl - 2011 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 28 (1):80-92.


Added to PP

66 (#187,704)

6 months
2 (#326,586)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Michael Wiitala
Cleveland State University

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references