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The Final End and the Way to It

The Final End and the Way to It

(p.13) 1 The Final End and the Way to It
Aristotle's Dialogue with Socrates
University of Chicago Press

Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics begins with a seemingly preposterous contention: “Every art (technē) and every way of proceeding (methodos), and likewise action (praxis) and choice (prohairesis), are thought to aim at some good; hence the good has been beautifully declared to be that at which all things aim.” Now, this might be acceptable, though it would not be saying much, if it were merely a formal generalization: the end at which anything purposive aims is “the good,” whatever it might be in any particular case. Before addressing the question of the good and the human good, this chapter offers a preliminary analysis of kinds of ends (telē) in what may well be the most abstract and obscure statement in the Ethics. It discusses what exactly an energeia is, what kind of ergon can be an end beyond it, and why, in such a case, the energeia should be understood as a praxis. It then turns to Aristotle's examination of the most prominent opinions about happiness.

Keywords:   Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, happiness, ends, good, human good, methodos, praxis, energeia, ergon

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