Is the Life of a Mediocre Philosopher Better Than the Life of an Excellent Cobbler? Aristotle On the Value of Activity in Nicomachean Ethics X.4-8.

Journal of Value Inquiry:1-17 (forthcoming)
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Abstract
Insofar as living well is, for Aristotle, the ultimate end of human life, and insofar as our life can be understood as comprising different (energeiai), the key prerequisite for living well is to rank and choose different activities according to their real value. The objective of this article is to identify and discuss different considerations that determine an value in ethics. Focusing on selected passages from Nicomachean Ethics X, I argue that the structure of an value displays considerable heterogeneity. An activity can be good on account of its excellence, excellence-independent worthwhileness, as well as its continuity; these kinds of value do not necessarily entail each other, and they can even occur at each expense. Insofar as this interpretation shifts the focus from the notion of virtue to the notion of activity, it opens up a fresh angle on ethics: virtue or excellence is just one source of value, alongside its worthwhileness and continuity.
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