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Aristotle on the Perfect Life$
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Anthony Kenny

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780198240174

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198240174.001.0001

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Perfection and Happiness

Perfection and Happiness

(p.16) 2 Perfection and Happiness
Aristotle on the Perfect Life

Anthony Kenny

Oxford University Press

Happiness is the most perfect (teleion) of all things: it is chosen for its own sake and never for anything else; it is never chosen for the sake of honour, pleasure, understanding, or virtue. Perfection is given by Aristotle as a formal property which happiness must possess. However, he also makes use of the notion of perfection in giving his own definition of happiness after developing the argument from the function of man. Aristotle says that anyone who deserves the description kalos kagathos must have all the individual virtues, just as a body can only be healthy if all, or at least the main parts of it, are healthy. The word ‘perfect’ in both treatises (Nicomachean and Eudemian) can bear either of the meanings ‘complete’ or ‘final’. But in the definition of happiness the Nicomachean treatise places the emphasis on finality, while the Eudemian places the emphasis on comprehensiveness.

Keywords:   perfect, happiness, Aristotle, Nicomachean, Eudemian, complete, final

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