, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 57-71
Date: 19 Oct 2010

An All-inclusive Interpretation of Aristotle’s Contemplative Life

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The debate between ‘inclusive’ and ‘dominant’ interpretations of Aristotle's concept of happiness (eudaimonia) has become one of the thorniest problems of Aristotle interpretation. In this paper, I attempt to solve this problem by presenting a multi-step argument for an ‘all-inclusive’ thesis, i.e., the Aristotelian philosopher or contemplator, in the strict sense, is someone who already possesses all the intellectual virtues (except technē), all the moral virtues (by way of the possession of phronēsis), and considerable other goods. If this thesis is correct, the inclusive and dominant interpretations will converge, for the philosopher turns out to be the happiest human being both in the inclusive and dominant senses.

I would like to dedicate this paper to G. R. F. Ferrari, my mentor during my visit at UC, Berkeley, for his constant encouragement and always sympathetic criticisms. I also thank Carlo Natali, Dorothea Frede, A. A. Long, Purushottama Bilimoria, David Crane, Vanessa de Harven, and Olof Pettersson, for their comments and discussions on earlier drafts of this paper.