“Wat moet ik doen?” Aristoteles over phronèsis en praktisch intellect

Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 68 (3):475-506 (2006)
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Ethics of any kind basically assume that all human beings by nature aim at happiness. However, this general starting point has to be made concrete in order to be relevant for action, and hence suitable for moral appreciation. What does my happiness consist in? Contrary to what has often been taken for granted, the concrete aim is not instrumental or subsidiary to the overall aim of happiness. To me, my particular aim is rather identical with happiness. The choice I make — if choice it is — indeed constitutes my happiness, i.e. the overall aim that directs my existential choices. This article is focused on the way Aristotelian ethics envisages the concreteness of this overall aim. This is not the concreteness of the means leading to the aim, which has often been discussed in Aristotelian scholarship, but happiness itself, taken as the specific but nevertheless universal aim that I seek to accomplish in my life. The main arguments are taken from Nicomachean Ethics VI and III. These texts, central to any discussion of Aristotle's views on the role of choice and deliberation in acquiring happiness, are re-interpreted, avoiding the deadlock of a debate between intellectualists and non-intellectualists



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