Intellectual Goodness in The Way of Reasons by Aristotle
In the reading “The Way of Reason” Aristotle tries to define the good that is within mankind. He moves through a variety of exercises that narrow down and simplify the ideas that man is inherently good and that his tendency for it is deliberate and pre-destined. He looks at different activities, then breaks them down and finds the part that leads toward the final happiness. He feels that if man is truly good within his soul that he will be happy. Not necessarily happy as joyful, but, more like content or satisfied.
He spends a large amount of time examining different virtues and behaviors and then determines what the outcomes of these activities are. Some examples are behaviors of men that may not link directly to the man himself. Things like bravery and cowardice.
He uses fear, rashness, and courage to define what makes a man brave or a coward. It is each of these in varying degrees that create the description of a man’s actions. One with too much courage and rashness becomes foolhardy and takes unnecessary risks. One that might have too much fear and not enough rashness becomes the coward. For Aristotle, finding the mean of these values is what give the best measure of the man. If he has this balance then he is working toward the improvement of a situation without regard to himself. This might also be explained as; if a man has just the right amount of courage, rashness, bravery and fear, he will do what it takes to make things better for his fellow men. But, he does not make any actions that serve to create a better impression of himself to his peers. He does the things to “save the damsel in distress” but isn’t doing it to get approval from other men, he does it because it’s the “right” thing to do. By helping out he attempts to achieve a better place for those around him. And so he gains happiness knowing that he did the right thing without resorting to being foolhardy and selfish.
Another example that Aristotle uses is physical pleasures. While these may make one happy, one needs temperance to draw the line between doing something for a greater good or doing it because it feels good. He creates a break between “a) pleasures of the soul and b) pleasures of the body.” (Gill, pg 359). Aristotle want to define that while people may derive pleasure from the senses, they need a temperance to prevent them from breaking away from the mean of pleasurable experiences and creating a desire that tries to draw them away. By enjoying the smell of a rose or incense at just the right degree instead of forsaking other things just for that physical pleasure. If a person makes every effort to recreate or prolong a physical sensation, then it becomes wrong. It pulls one away from being temperate and pulls away from attaining the right balance. Just as there is a balance for Aristotle of emotions like fear and rashness, there is a balance between enjoying something and...