Aristotle on Highest Good

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Question description

I want an essay written on a philosophical subject. details are below:


Aristotle (highest good):

Discuss Aristotle’s conception of the highest good. What does Aristotle mean when he talks about the “highest good”?

Why does he think that a highest good exists?

Why does he think that happiness—and not something else—is the highest good?

How does he ultimately define happiness, and how is it related to moral virtue?

Do you think that Aristotle’s account of happiness is adequate? Why or why not?

(Be specific: how you would define happiness, and how does your definition compare to Aristotle’s?)


Characteristics of an ‘A’ paper:

• Accuracy: presents the authors’ views without distortion or confusion

• Completeness: does not leave out any salient or vital parts of the authors’ ideas

• Depth: goes beyond merely repeating class notes; demonstrates a familiarity with the primary text(s), and an awareness of the ambiguities and nuances of the text(s)

• Clarity: is well-structured, and presented without major grammatical or syntactic or stylistic errors

• Criticism, inquisitiveness: does not simply accept the ideas or texts at face value, but raises critical questions about them; states agreement or disagreement, with supporting reasons or arguments


Attached are :

-A model paper ( see citations )

-Book pages that need to be cited as shown in model paper, you may cite it by simply giving the philosopher-fragment number (e.g., Heraclitus 10.40), or the McKirahan page number (e.g., PBS p. 44). (note: block quotation should be single spaced, while the rest of the paper is double spaced)

please provide ONLY ONE outer source. remember that any other secondary material that you use, and any alternative translations that you use, must be given a full citation.

Parmenides: A Revolutionary Understanding of Existence Parmenides of Elea refuted ideas of his contemporaries and philosophers before him by rejecting inductive reasoning and introducing deductive reasoning as a logical form of understanding existence. He deduces that mortals are misguided by their senses and that truth can only come from rationality, not perception. Additionally, he uses the Principle of Sufficient Reason to argue that the only thing that exists is a singular, eternal thing. In this essay, I will explain through Parmenides’ fragments 11.1-11.8 his reasons for the rejection of the senses and his case for monism. However, I will also provide an explanation for why his argument is unconvincing; he offers no proof for his certainty that existence is based on rationality. In his most notable piece of work, Parmenides describes a journey in which he is guided from darkness to light and enlightened by true justice and the goddess of wisdom. He is presented with three distinct routes of thought, the first of truth, the second of falsehood which is believing things can be and not-be, and the third of mortal opinion which is believing that there are a plurality of things—which is also false. The goddess represents the unveiling of truth or aletheia through logic. The goddess says, “There is need for you to learn all things—both the unshaken hearts of the persuasive Truth and the opinions of mortals, in which there is no true reliance.” (Parmenides 11.1) The goddess will show him both what is true as well as what humans believe, so that he can know the difference and be aware of what is untrue. She tells him that “the same thing both can be thought of and can be.” (Parmenides 11.3) This literally means that anything that can be thought of exists. Parmenides implies from this not that one can think of anything and it will be brought forth into existence, but rather that it is impossible to think of something that does not exist. One cannot think of something that does not exist, because this would mean one is thinking of nothing, yet this is impossible to do. When one believes one is 1 thinking of something that does not exist, this is a mistake. One cannot imagine something that is inherently contradictory, for example a square circle or that 2+2=5, but one can also not think of a unicorn, because it does not exist in reality. He describes the goddess as revealing to him that: It is right both to say and to think that it is what-is: for it is the case That it is, But nothing is not: these things I bid you to ponder. For this is the first route of investigation from which I hold you back, And then from that one on which mortals, knowing nothing, wander, two-headed: for helplessness in their breasts steers their wandering mind. They are borne along deaf and blind alike, dazed, hordes without judgment by whom it (namely, what-is) is thought both to be and not to be the same and not the same; but the path of all is backward-turning. (Parmenides 11.6) Here, the goddess warns Parmenides of the two routes of falsity: that of believing one can think of things that do not exist, and that of believing that many things exist. The third route involves the concept of non-being from the first route, but is more specific to the way in which this mortal opinion—of a plurality of things existing—is false because it is based upon the senses which are deceptive. He argues that one cannot only not think of square circles or unicorns, but even something such as a horse does not truly exist and thus cannot be thought of. Parmenides says that when one believes they can imagine something that does not exist, they are making a mistake, for this is impossible. He claims that the senses cannot be trusted and that the goddess has told him mortals go through their lives “deaf and blind” and “without judgment.” The goddess says: On this [route] there are signs very many, that what-is is ungenerated and imperishable, whole, steadfast, and complete. Nor was it ever, nor will it ever be, since it is now, all together, one holding together: For what birth will you investigate for it? How and from what did it grow? I will allow you neither to say nor think 2 “from what is not”: for “is not” is not to be said or thought of. What need would have roused it, later or earlier, to grow, having begun from nothing? (Parmenides 11.8) Her argument is that the senses lead us to believe there are multiple things and that we can think of multiple things, however, if we reject our senses, and rather ponder what it would mean for a plurality of things to exist, the truth will be revealed to us. Parmenides believes in the Principle of Sufficient Reason which means that everything in existence had to have had a cause and a reason why it came to be. If everything has a cause that means that everything that exists had to have come into being from something else. She says, “Nor was it ever, nor will it be” (Parmenides 11.8) which means that if something existed, it needed a reason to do so. This means that if one traces back to the origin of everything, one will eventually come to a point in which something arose from nothing, which is impossible. The goddess offers proof of how we can know that our senses deceive us. She reiterates, “Nor will the force of conviction ever impel anything to come to be beside it from what-is-not.” (Parmenides 11.8) This reinforces the idea that nothing can be caused to come into existence if there was nothing to cause it and that desiring something to be or thinking of something does not bring it forth into existence. She says, “But how can what-is be hereafter? How can it come to be? For if it came to be, it is not, not even if it is sometime going to be.”(Parmenides 11.8) If we have logically determined that something cannot be if it is perishable or generated—for something cannot come from nothing and something cannot cease to be—then we have a way of knowing whether something is real. When something appears to have an origin or a termination point, if it “exists” at one point but not at another, it does not truly exist and our senses must be deceiving us. A thing that perishes cannot be a thing, for to be in existence, a thing must be eternal—ungenerated and imperishable—and of these there is and can only be one. This is the 3 argument for monism; there is only a sole thing that exists. This thing has always existed and will never cease to exist for it could not have arisen out of something else and thus can never terminate. Parmenides describes the sole thing that “is” as being unlimited, indivisible, motionless, unchanging, and ungenerated. What-is is full of what-is and is unlimited. The thing is described as “complete from all directions, like the bulk of a well-rounded sphere, equally matched on all sides; for it is right for it to be not in any way greater or lesser than another. For neither is it the case that "what-is-not is—which would stop it from reaching.” (Parmenides 11.8) Something would stop the thing from reaching if its limit were not ultimate, but because it is and because nothing else exists to stop it, it must be complete in itself. The goddess also says, “nor is it divisible, since it is all alike, and not at all any more in any respect, which would keep it from holding together, or at all inferior, but it is all full of what-is.” (Parmenides 11.8) This argument for “what-is” being divisible is essentially that it is uniform and alike so there would be no way in which to divide it. It is also full entirely of “what-is” and only this so it cannot be divided into separate parts: there is only one part and it is whole. This thing is also unmoving because for something to move there must be a void for something to move within it, but there is only one thing. The thing that “is” is motionless by definition: But motionless in the limits of great bonds it is, without starting or ceasing, since generation and perishing have wandered far far away; true conviction repelled them. Remaining the same and in the same and by itself it lies and so remains there fixed; for mighty Necessity holds it in bonds of a limit which holds it back on all sides. (Parmenides 11.8) It is necessary for this thing to be fixed and eternal, thus it cannot move or change. Additionally, there is not a thing that exists other than the singular one, and there is not a non-thing, thus if there is nowhere to move to and nothing in which to move through, there can be no motion. As previously explained, this thing also must be ungenerated for it has no origin, for existence 4 cannot be derived from non-existence. It is unchanging because change requires cause and if there is only a sole thing there is nothing to impose a change onto it. Through the goddess’ words, Parmenides demonstrates his argument for the rejection of the senses and for why previous philosophers’ views are unsatisfactory or false. He says the goddess warns him to not follow a false route, “do not let habit, rich in experience, compel you along this route to direct an aimless eye and an echoing ear and tongue, but judge by reason the much contested examination spoken by me.” (Parmenides 11.7) The goddess—and thus by extension, Parmenides—tells us not to trust our senses. This is why previous philosophers were not able to experience aletheia, they were clouded by false images and sounds and followed them (ironically) as though blind and deaf. They used deceptive sense-perception as a way to understand existence, rather than reason, and this explains why they were unable to arrive at the concrete truth about what is. Although Parmenides’ argument raises valid questions, it remains unconvincing because he does not offer sufficient explanation for the Principle of Sufficient Reason. The very principle upon which he bases his theory of monism is not proved in his fragments: he doesn’t offer a sufficient explanation as to why he understands the Principle of Sufficient Reason to be true. It appears as though he, at one point, in order to derive this, relied on his senses to observe that things that happen seem to have causes as to why they occur. He doesn’t show any proof for his certainty of a rational existence in which things that exist do so because something brought them forth into existence for a reason. For example, one may derive the Principle of Sufficient Reason from observations about how objects react to movement. One might notice that a pen falls when one lets go of it, and that because the pen fell due to the loosened grasp of it, things require a cause in order to change. However, one would be relying on sight-based observation to arrive at 5 this conclusion, and this would be contradictory for Parmenides because he claims that we cannot rely on our senses to reveal anything about the workings of the universe. Thus he couldn’t have derived this notion of the Principle of Sufficient Reason from observation and he has assumed it to be true without proof. It is possible that he has a reason for assuming logic is a predicate of existence or that he understands logic as an innate truth, but because he does not demonstrate evidence of this in his work, there is no ground for certainty of a reason-driven and controlled universe. If it is the case that he simply has not revealed his reason for knowing indubitably that logic, rather than chaos, orders and dictates the universe, he would need to explain this in order to make his argument more persuasive. Parmenides’ idea of the rejection of the senses was a revolutionary and important contribution to philosophy. His recount of the goddess provides a clever metaphor for the revelation of knowledge or aletheia and it raises crucial questions about what it means to exist and how mortals should approach the search for truth. Parmenides’ use of reason and his idea of existence being unitary revolutionized further philosophical thought. However, his argument is not completely persuasive in that he doesn’t explain how he is certain that things can be explained rationally if he doesn’t base this idea on sense-perception originated conclusions about cause and effect in the observable world. Works Cited Parmenides, and McKirahan, Richard D. “Parmenides of Elea.” Philosophy Before Socrates: an Introduction with Texts and Commentary, Hackett Pub. Co., 2010. 6

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