Aristotle on the Uses of Contemplation
Traditionally, Aristotle is held to believe that philosophical contemplation is valuable for its own sake, but ultimately useless. In this volume, Matthew D. Walker offers a fresh, systematic account of Aristotle's views on contemplation's place in the human good. The book situates Aristotle's views against the background of his wider philosophy, and examines the complete range of available textual evidence (including neglected passages from Aristotle's Protrepticus). On this basis, Walker argues that contemplation also benefits humans as perishable living organisms by actively guiding human life activity, including human self-maintenance. Aristotle's views on contemplation's place in the human good thus cohere with his broader thinking about how living organisms live well. A novel exploration of Aristotle's views on theory and practice, this volume will interest scholars and students of both ancient Greek ethics and natural philosophy. It will also appeal to those working in other disciplines including classics, ethics, and political theory.
- Hardback | 270 pages
- 156 x 235 x 18mm | 500g
- 01 May 2019
- CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
- Cambridge, United Kingdom
- Worked examples or Exercises
Table of contents
1. How can useless contemplation be central to the human good?; 2. Useless contemplation as an ultimate end; 3. The threptic basis of living; 4. Authoritative functions, ultimate ends, and the good for living organisms; 5. The utility question restated - and how not to address it; 6. The first wave: reason, desire, and threptic guidance in the harmonized soul; 7. The second wave: complete virtue and the utility of contemplation; 8. The third wave: from contemplating the divine to understanding the human good; 9. The anatomy of Aristotelian virtue; 10. Some concluding reflections.
'This is an important book. It represents a key challenge to the view that Aristotle's ethics can adequately be understood apart from its biological and wider metaphysical background. In particular, it challenges the widespread view - widespread at least in the Anglophone world - that Aristotle is not a theist, or (more modestly) that his theism does not significantly inform his ethical theory ... In this rigorous, highly detailed and elegantly written monograph, Matthew Walker demonstrates the untenability of this myth, while simultaneously demonstrating how Aristotle's theism is deeply implicated in his metaphysical biology.' Tom Angier, Notre Dame Philosophical Review
About Matthew D. Walker
Matthew D. Walker is Assistant Professor of Humanities (Philosophy) at Yale-NUS College. His work focuses on ancient Greek philosophy and cross-cultural ethical theory, and has been published in numerous leading journals.