September 9

Wednesday, September 9, 2020
Breakout – Sec 02 in Downey, Sec 03 in Fisk, Sec 01 and 04 together online

Final Ends

In addition to means/ends analysis, many philosophers hold that there is some ultimate “final good” that our actions aim at.  We will introduce this notion with a short text from Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, wherein he argues that the final end or final good is eudaimonia, a term translated variously as “happiness” or “flourishing”, and passages from Plato.  We will then test theory against our own experiences as these have become elucidated in the Desire Exercises. Part of the period will also be spent learning about philosophical arguments and the terminology used to talk about them.

  • Understand the idea of a final end
  • See how to construct an argument from a philosophical text
  • Know what Aristotle means by eudaimonia
  • Understand Aristotle’s argument that the final end is happiness (eudaimonia)
  • Use this tool to push your understanding of your own desires further

Before Class

  • N/A
  • Final Ends exercise
  • Discussion question: Aristotle says that there is something all our desires and actions aim at: happiness (eudaimonia). Did your desire map lead to a single final end?  Could you plausibly say that all your other desires are ultimately aimed at happiness?  Are any of your other ends desired only for their own sake and not for any further goal?
  • Try to reconstruct Aristotle’s argument that eudaimonia (happiness) is the ultimate end of all our actions in your own words.

After Class

  • Note that directions for first assignment (due Saturday, Sept. 19) are now available