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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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The Contemplation and Service of God.

The Contemplation and Service of God.

(p.86) 7 The Contemplation and Service of God.
Aristotle on the Perfect Life

Anthony Kenny

Oxford University Press

Understanding is the most perfect virtue, and is more perfect than any other virtue. But of course, the virtue of understanding is not as perfect as happiness itself, which is not understanding, but the contemplation which is the exercise of understanding. Aristotle then goes on to show that theoretic contemplation possesses all the qualities which were in popular opinion and in truth, properties of happiness. Finally, contemplation is loved for its own sake, much more so than moral virtue, and in contrast to the activities of the statesman which seek a happiness different from political action and sought as being different. So the concluding section of the Nicomachean Ethics, instead of offering, like the Eudemian Ethics, a single life containing all the value sought by the promoters of the three traditional lives, offers a first-class, perfect happiness, consisting in the exercise of understanding.

Keywords:   understanding, virtue, perfect happiness, Aristotle, contemplation

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