Previous | | Next | | E-Mail | | Contents | | V&FT
"'. . . that He may teach us about His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.'
For from Zion will go forth the Law
Even the Word of God from Jerusalem."
|In Aristotles Nicomachean Ethics mans highest good is considered to be "well-being" or happiness; yet there can only be linguistic agreement on this point, for "happiness" is different from person to person. Aristotle made the same mistakes with respect to man qua mans "rational function" as did Plato. He also shared Platos oblivion to the "forbidden fruit syndrome" (i.e., men often do what is immoral simply because it is enticingly against the law) and thereby held that no man knowingly does evil. Such moves were necessitated by his rationalistic system and false anthropology.||
More on Greco-Roman Humanism is found here.
|Even if we grant Aristotle that it is meaningful and true that "all men desire happiness as an end," he still commits a naturalistic fallacy by directly going on to say that "all men, therefore, ought to desire happiness as an end." (All descriptions do not in themselves yield prescriptions.) By the doctrine of the golden mean Aristotle held that the right thing to  do was to choose a mediating course between excess and deficiency; due to varying situations the golden mean will not be the same for all men or for all time. However, a descriptive variety of situations does not imply that moral (prescriptive) absolutes cannot apply irrespective of circumstance.|
|Finally, Aristotles attack on hedonism turns back on his own system. He rightly observed that some things which bring pleasure (hedonism holds that pleasure is the sole good) are still disgraceful and immoral; further, pleasure is not the supreme or "intrinsic" good because pleasure combined with something else (e.g., wisdom) is better than pleasure alone. These same comments could be made about "happiness," but Aristotle inconsistently failed to make them. We can only agree with Aristotles own evaluation of ethics as based on his system: it is an inexact science-of little help or plausibility.|
Vine & Fig Tree
12314 Palm Dr. #107
Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240
[e-mail to V&FT]
[V&FT Home Page]