Discuss the following claim : the moral philosophy of the Epicureans added little, if anything, to that of Aristotle.  

Expert Answers
ac12 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Aristotle, like most of the ancient Greeks, was concerned with defining happiness (eudaimonia).  It must be clarified, at the outset, that the Greeks did not take "happiness" to be mere subjective contentment. Happiness entailed flourishing and (objective) well-being. Now Aristotle and the Epicureans offer very different accounts of happiness and, for this reason, the Epicureans certainly added on to Aristotle's moral theory. Indeed the only significant point of agreement is that they both take happiness to be the goal of life. Such moral theories are often called "eudaimonistic."

In the Nicomachean Ethics X, Aristotle argues that the best possible life consists in contemplation (theōria) but that a secondarily happy life — and one that is attainable by human beings — involves a life lived according to practical wisdom (phronēsis). A person who possesses practical wisdom and, consequently, happiness, will possess a range of moral and intellectual virtues. 

The Epicureans, on the other hand, defined happiness as pleasure. Pleasure requires the absence of emotional distress as well as the absence of physical pain. We will be happy as long as we pursue natural and necessary pleasures. 

Read the study guide:
Aristotle

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question