Full Human Flourishing

Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 81:193-204 (2007)
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Abstract

Human ability to freely choose requires knowledge of human nature and the final end of man. For Aristotle, this end is happiness or full flourishing, whichinvolves various virtues. Modern scholarship has led to debate over which virtues are absolutely necessary. Taking into account the hierarchical nature of the soul and the fact that relationships with the divine and with others are necessary for human flourishing, it can be seen that human flourishing requires contemplation, phronesis and all the moral virtues, as perfections of the various parts of the soul. The truly happy person has actualized all of his faculties and potential relationships. Rather than taking one of the standard exclusivist or inclusivist viewpoints on this ‘problem of the two lives,’ this paper argues that a holistic reading of Aristotle’s ethical works requires a hierarchical and relational view of the virtues, with all of them necessary for human flourishing.

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Mark K. Spencer
University of St. Thomas, Minnesota

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