Aristotle’s Idea of Telos

Topics: Ethics, Virtue, Aristotle Pages: 2 (450 words) Published: October 20, 2008
Aristotle’s Idea of Telos

The definition of telos is Aristotle’s final cause: the goal or purpose of a thing, its function or potential. The final cause is the most important “cause” in Aristotle’s point of view. In his teleological point of view, he states that everything is always changing and moving, and has an aim, goal or purpose (telos). Aristotle’s arête (virtue) is reaching your highest human potential, or in his words, knowledge and study. So if the highest human knowledge is knowledge about knowledge itself (contemplation) that would make arête (knowledge) the highest human ability.

Telos fits into Aristotle’s idea of the ethical life because to have the ethical life or should we say “happy life”, we need both moral and intellect goodness. To have both moral and intellect, this would require knowledge, which is the highest human ability which leads back to telos. The good life then, is a life of happiness. Aristotle says such a life can be achieved by excellence (arête) in two areas of virtue; intellectual and moral. Moral virtue cannot be taught, only learned by experience. It is us adapting to our natural surroundings and striving towards the good life everyday of our life. The intellectual virtue is the ability to reason. According to Aristotle, it is our nature to reason.

Aristotle’s eudaimonia (happiness) is living well and doing well in the affairs of the world. Happiness is life’s aim which like I stated before, involves both moral and intellectual arête. Aristotle states that “The happy life for a man is a life of the conscious following of a rule”. So to elaborate, a person must use their moral and intellect virtues to use good judgment to know what the right rule is, then they must follow and obey the rule even if they don’t understand the rule. So in order for us to do this we must possess moral goodness and goodness of intellect.

For the complete happiness in life, most people strive to have a good character. This good...
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