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Unformatted text preview: Aristotelian Phronimos 07/05/2007 12:05:00 Phronimos: Person of practical reason Eudaimonia: The eudaimon life is a life of activity expressing virtues of character and virtues of intellect, along with the pleasures that arise from those activities and from from the healthy completion of natural activities. It also requires friendships, and includes the pleasures that attend friendship, and certain external supports—abject poverty, disability, lack of family, andother things may put the flourishing life beyond our reach. The ergon of a thing is what it does that make it what it is . If a thing has a specific function or characteristic work, then its good is doing that work well, and virtues are the characteristics that enable us to do that work well. The human ergon is the soul’s activity that expresses reason , both in the management of our desires and in contemplation of the world beyond us . Thus the eudaimon life will be one in which we do those activites finely and well (virtuously) . What is virtue of character? It is a state that disposes us to act and feel ata a mean between excess and deficiency— to act in the appropriate way, at the appropriate time, with the appropriate feelings, neither too much nor too little. The mean is relative to the person, since particular features or circumstances affect where the mean lies (i.e. the amount of food that avoids both excess and deficiency for an athelete will be larger than the amount that lies at the mean for a couch-potato). One cannot have any virtue unless one has practical wisdom; but practical wisdom is the general capacity to find the mean; so the person of practical wisdom must have all the virtues. The virtuous preson acts well and enjoys it, while the continent person does the right thing, but suffers for it and does it begrudgingly, and the incontinent person knows what is right, but nonetheless acts badly— s/he suffers from weakness of will. Unlike the other three, the base person doesn’t know right from wrong, and in this is like sub- human animals. People become virtuous by habituation. By imitating the behaviors of the virtuous person, and repetitive practice of virtuous behaviors, we can train ourselves over time to act and even to feel as the virtuous person does. A good upbringing that teaches us “the that’s” is crucial, as is living in a good state that habituates its citizens to virtue through laws and education . The Phronimos leader models virtue (and may participate in forming good laws and a good system of education). Telos:...
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