Contemplation, and Happiness: An Essay on Aristotle

However we arrive at secure principles in philosophy and science,whether by some process leading to a rational grasping of necessarytruths, or by sustained dialectical investigation operating overjudiciously selected endoxa, it does turn out, according toAristotle, that we can uncover and come to know genuinely necessaryfeatures of reality. Such features, suggests Aristotle, are thosecaptured in the essence-specifying definitions used in science (againin the broad sense of epistêmê).

Aristotle's ethics is reviewed and his distinction between pleasure and happiness is explained.

Furthermore, every ethical virtue is a condition intermediate (a “golden mean” as it is popularly known)between two other states, one involving excess, and the otherdeficiency (1106a26-b28). In this respect, Aristotle says, the virtuesare no different from technical skills: every skilled worker knows howto avoid excess and deficiency, and is in a condition intermediatebetween two extremes. The courageous person, for example, judges thatsome dangers are worth facing and others not, and experiences fear toa degree that is appropriate to his circumstances. He lies between thecoward, who flees every danger and experiences excessive fear, and therash person, who judges every danger worth facing and experienceslittle or no fear. Aristotle holds that this same topography appliesto every ethical virtue: all are located on a map that places thevirtues between states of excess and deficiency. He is careful to add,however, that the mean is to be determined in a way that takes intoaccount the particular circumstances of the individual(1106a36-b7). The arithmetic mean between 10 and 2 is 6, and this isso invariably, whatever is being counted. But the intermediate pointthat is chosen by an expert in any of the crafts will vary from onesituation to another. There is no universal rule, for example, abouthow much food an athlete should eat, and it would be absurd to inferfrom the fact that 10 lbs. is too much and 2 lbs. too little for methat I should eat 6 lbs. Finding the mean in any given situation isnot a mechanical or thoughtless procedure, but requires a full anddetailed acquaintance with the circumstances.

“Pleasure: Aristotle's Response to Plato”.

The preferred first of these was a near transposition of Aristotle’s account of pleasure ..

In its most rudimentary formulation, hylomorphism simply labels each ofthe two factors: what remains is matter and what is gained isform. Aristotle’s hylomorphism quickly becomesmuch more complex, however, as the notions of matter and form arepressed into philosophical service. Importantly, matter and formcome to be paired with another fundamental distinction, that betweenpotentiality and actuality. Again in the caseof the generation of a statue, we may say that the bronze ispotentially a statue, but that it is an actual statuewhen and only when it is informed with the form of astatue. Of course, before being made into a statue, thebronze was also in potentiality a fair number of otherartefacts—a cannon, a steam-engine, or a goal on a footballpitch. Still, it was not in potentiality butter or a beachball. This shows that potentiality is not the same aspossibility: to say that x is potentially F is to say thatx already has actual features in virtue of which it might bemade to be F by the imposition of a F form upon it. So, giventhese various connections, it becomes possible to define form andmatter generically as