Sep 18 • 6M

Aristotle on the three kinds of happy life

Practical Wisdom podcast, episode 12

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Appears in this episode

Massimo Pigliucci
Practical Wisdom is a short weekly podcast produced by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci of the City College of New York. The idea is to sample the philosophical writings of a wide range of Greco-Roman authors in search of insights that may be useful for modern life. Currently, we are examining five works: Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics; Cicero’s Tusculan Disputations; Epictetus’s Discourses; Epicurus’s Being Happy (letters and aphorisms); and Plato’s early Socratic dialogues (Ion, Laches, Lysis, Charmides, Hippias Major, Hippias Minor, and Euthydemus). Available also on Apple, Google, and Spotify.
Episode details

“On the basis of the lives they lead, the many … seem to suppose, not unreasonably, that the good and happiness are pleasure. And thus they cherish the life of enjoyment.

The especially prominent ways of life are three: the one just mentioned, the political, and, third, the contemplative. …

The refined and active … choose honor, for this is pretty much the end of the political life. But it appears to be more superficial than what is being sought, for honor seems to reside more with those who bestow it than with him who receives it; and we divine that the good is something of one’s own and a thing not easily taken away. …

Third is the contemplative life, about which we will make an investigation in what will follow.

The moneymaking life is characterized by a certain constraint, and it is clear that wealth is not the good being sought, for it is a useful thing and for the sake of something else.

Thus someone might suppose that the previously mentioned things are ends to a greater degree than is money, for at least they are cherished for their own sakes.” (Nicomachean Ethics, I.5)

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