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Aristotelian Teleology: The Bridge Between Natural Philosophy and the Problem of “The Good Life”

  • Alexander S. Rosenthal-Pubul
Chapter

Abstract

If Socrates was a lived embodiment of the theoretic or philosophical life, it belongs to Aristotle to establish its autonomy. For the Greek philosophers, politics was the natural continuation of ethics, as both sciences aim at the Good. Hence, given the Socratic identification of virtue with knowledge, the theoretic life was inherently bound up, for Socrates and Plato with the political life. Aristotle’s distinction between the political and theoretic life and their corresponding virtues, rests on his key concept of teleology according to which different forms of life which vary according to their end. Depending on what human beings choose as their supreme end or good – pleasure, honor, or wisdom – different kinds of lives follow – the life of enjoyment, the political life, and the theoretic life. Teleology is also the vital bridge between Aristotle’s natural philosophy and his ethics and politics. In nature there are ends or goods which are realized through natural processes. Comparably, man as part of the natural order also has an end or supreme good. Hence by using teleology, Aristotle will aim to establish the hierarchy among goods and so assess the question “which of these most fully realizes the good life?”

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander S. Rosenthal-Pubul
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Advanced Governmental StudiesJohns Hopkins UniversityWashington, DCUSA

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