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Unformatted text preview: Another central tension in the book is the issue of continence and incontinencethat is, the strength or weakness of the will. While Socrates believed that all wrongdoing arose from ignorance, Aristotle took the more intuitive view: that we recognize the right but nevertheless fail to do it. To show how an incontinent person does know the good, Aristotle allows that the person possesses the knowledge potentially but not actually. In an incontinent person, desire prevents the potential knowledge from becoming actualized during the critical moment. Aristotle concludes the Ethics with a discussion of the highest form of happiness: a life of intellectual contemplation. Since reason is what separates humanity from animals, its exercise leads man to the highest virtue. As he closes the argument, he notes that such a contemplative life is impossible without the appropriate social environment, and such...
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- Fall '08