Aristotle on the choice of lives: Two concepts of self-sufficiency

In Pierre Destrée & Marco Antônio Zingano (eds.), Theoria: Studies on the Status and Meaning of Contemplation in Aristotle's Ethics. Leuven, Belgium: Peeters Publishing. pp. 111-133 (2014)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Aristotle's treatment of the choice between the political and contemplative lives (in EN I 5 and X 7-8) can seem awkward. To offer one explanation of this, I argue that when he invokes self-sufficience (autarkeia) as a criterion for this choice, he appeals to two different and incompatible specifications of "lacking nothing." On one specification, suitable to a human being living as a political animal and thus seeking to realize his end as an engaged citizen of a polis, a person lacks nothing by possessing a wide range of goods that directly require other people. On the other, more suitable to a god or a beast, a person lacks nothing by having no need of goods that directly require other people. The ambiguity of this criterion renders the choice between the political and contemplative lives difficult.



External links

  • This entry has no external links. Add one.
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

2,035 (#3,373)

6 months
619 (#972)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Eric Brown
Washington University in St. Louis

Citations of this work

Aristotle on Self-Sufficiency, External Goods, and Contemplation.Marc Gasser-Wingate - 2020 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 102 (1):1-28.
Contemplative withdrawal in the Hellenistic age.Eric Brown - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 137 (1):79-89.
Aristotle and the Authoritativeness of Politikē.George Duke - 2014 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 22 (4):631-654.
La mejor forma de vida en el régimen político ideal de Aristóteles.Viviana Suñol - 2014 - Anales Del Seminario de Historia de la Filosofía 31 (2).

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

Ethics with Aristotle.Sarah Broadie - 1991 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Plato's ethics.Terence Irwin - 1995 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Aristotle on Eudaimonia.J. L. Ackrill - 1974 - In Amélie Oksenberg Rorty (ed.), Essays on Aristotle's Ethics. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. pp. 15-34.
Aristotle on eudaimonia.J. L. Ackrill - 1975 - London: Oxford University Press.
Aristotle's ethics.David Bostock - 2000 - New York: Oxford University Press.

View all 30 references / Add more references