Personal Destinies - A Philosophy of Ethical Individualism

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Know Thyself and Become What You Are: A Eudaimonic Approach to Psychological Well-Being

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Rudolf Steiner Quotes – Ethical Individualism

Skip to content Skip to search. Norton, David L. Published Princeton, N. Language English. Author Norton, David L. Subjects Individuality. Social ethics. Morale sociale. Contents Includes bibliographical references. Notes Includes index.

Ethical egoism

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Open to the public. Veech Library. Mannix Library. Open to the public Held. CARM Centre. May not be open to the public brn. The various domains mutually influence one another in an ongoing dynamic fashion. Aristotle explains that practical science recognizes the inexact nature of its conclusions as a consequence of human action which arises from each person's freedom and uniqueness. Uncertainty emanates from the nature of the world and the free human person and is a necessary aspect of economic actions that will always be in attendance.

Aristotle observes that a practical science such as economics must be intimately connected to the concrete circumstances and that it is proper to begin with what is known to us. The proper function of every person is to live happily, successfully, and well. This is done through the active exercise of a man's distinctive capacity, rationality, as he engages in activities to the degree appropriate to the person in the context of his own particular identity as a human being.

Because man is naturally social, it is good for him to live in a society or polis i. Aristotle emphasizes the individuating characteristics of human beings when he proclaims that the goodness of the polis is inextricably related to those who make it up. For Aristotle, social life in a community is a necessary condition for a man's complete flourishing as a human being.


Aristotle explains that friendship, the mutual admiration between two human beings, is a necessary condition for the attainment of one's eudaimonia. Because man is a social being, it can be maintained that friendship has an egoistic foundation. It follows that authentic friendship is predicated upon one's sense of his own moral worth and on his love for and pride in himself. Moral admiration, both of oneself and of the other, is an essential component of Aristotelian friendship.

Self-perfection means to fulfill the capacities that make a person fully human including other-directed capacities such as friendship. Noting that individuals form communities to secure life's necessities, Aristotle also emphasizes the importance of active citizen participation in government. He views the proper end of government as the promotion of its citizens' happiness. It follows that the goodness of the polis is directly related to the total self-actualization of the individuals who comprise it.

Aristotle contends that the state exists for the good of the individual. He thus preferred the rule of law over the rule of any of the citizens. This is because men have private interests whereas laws do not. It follows that the "mixed regime" advocated by Aristotle was the beginning of the notion of constitutionalism including the separation of powers and checks and balances. He was the first thinker to divide rulership activities into executive, legislative, and judicial functions. Through his support for a mixed political system, Aristotle was able to avoid and reject both Platonic communism and radical democracy.

For Aristotle, an entity that fulfills its proper i. He explains that the nature of a thing is the measure or standard in terms of which we judge whether or not it is functioning appropriately or well. Things are good for Aristotle when they advance their specific or respective ends. For whatever has a natural function, the good is therefore thought to reside in the function.

The natural function of a thing is determined by its natural end. With respect to living things, there are particular ways of being that constitute the perfection of the living thing's nature. According to Aristotle, there is an end of all of the actions that we perform which we desire for itself. This is what is known as eudaimonia , flourishing, or happiness, which is desired for its own sake with all other things being desired on its account. Eudaimonia is a property of one's life when considered as a whole. Flourishing is the highest good of human endeavors and that toward which all actions aim.

It is success as a human being. The best life is one of excellent human activity. For Aristotle, the good is what is good for purposeful, goal-directed entities. He defines the good proper to human beings as the activities in which the life functions specific to human beings are most fully realized. For Aristotle, the good of each species is teleologically immanent to that species. A person's nature as a human being provides him with guidance with respect to how he should live his life.

A fundamental fact of human nature is the existence of individual human beings each with his own rational mind and free will. The use of one's volitional consciousness is a person's distinctive capacity and means of survival. One's own life is the only life that a person has to live. It follows that, for Aristotle, the "good" is what is objectively good for a particular man.

Aristotle's eudaimonia is formally egoistic in that a person's normative reason for choosing particular actions stems from the idea that he must pursue his own good or flourishing. Because self-interest is flourishing, the good in human conduct is connected to the self-interest of the acting person. Good means "good for" the individual moral agent. Egoism is an integral part of Aristotle's ethics. He insisted that the key idea in ethics is a human individual's own personal happiness and well being.

Each man is responsible for his own character. According to Aristotle, each person has a natural obligation to achieve, become, and make something of himself by pursuing his true ends and goals in life. Each person should be concerned with the "best that is within us" and with the most accomplished and self-sufficient success and excellence. In other words, human flourishing occurs when a person is concurrently doing what he ought to do and doing what he wants to do.

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Ackrill, J. A New Aristotle Reader. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Annas, Julia. The Morality of Happiness. New York: Oxford University Press, Aquinas, T. Commentary on the Nicomachean Ethics. Chicago, Barnes, Jonathan, Aristotle. Blaug, M. Aristotle B. Aldershot, Brakas, George. Aristotle's Concept of the Universal.

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Hildesheim and New York: Georg Olms, Broadie, Sarah. Ethics With Aristotle. Cooper, John. Reason and Human Good in Aristotle. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, Gotthelf, A. Aristotle on Nature and Living Things. Bristol, Gotthelf, Allan and Lennox, James G. Philosophical Issues in Aristotle's Biology.

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  • Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Hardie, W. Aristotle's Ethical Theory. Oxford , Practicing the virtue of justice is a highly nuanced matter. Individual rights do offer, of course, a form of justice. They regulate human conduct by providing the rules for playing the moral game among others, so to speak. In order for the moral life to be practiced, intellectual insight into the contingent and the particular is required and here I share some common ground with Professor Huemer.

    Any unity these virtues might acquire can only be achieved through the excellent use of practical reason. Thus, I continue to think that it is scandalous that Rand has no discussion of the intellectual virtue of practical wisdom in her ethics. On the importance of this virtue, see Douglas J. Are individual human beings mere loci for the right and the good? Is who one is irrelevant to moral deliberations? I think not, and I recommend David L. It may be that all moral concepts have their basis in human flourishing, but how they are related to this ultimate good may be neither direct nor isomorphic.

    I think this is especially true when it comes to individual rights. To my mind, Rand is sometimes guilty of the latter when she conceptualizes capitalism. Younkins, ed.