Ancient Philosophy


Did Aristotle think that morality had a purpose or “final cause”?

Yes. Aristotle thought that in human life—as in nature, generally—everything has a purpose and there cannot be an infinite regress of purposes (that is, there is an “unmoved mover”) Because we are goal-directed, there must be some goal that is valuable to us in itself, and not because it will lead to some other goal. The goal that is good in and of itself is happiness. Aristotle thought that happiness is not pleasure or any other feeling, but a quality that settles over life when we are actualizing our essence by behaving virtuously for the right reasons. Our essence is our rationality.


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