Aristotle on the Purpose of Human Life: a Justification of My Position

Leszek Skowroński

Professor Facca’s article is a review of my doctoral thesis which was subsequently published in 2014 as a book titled Aristotle on the Purpose of Human Life. The book’s aim was to question the stereotypical image of Aristotle as “the master of common sense” (this image having been created to express Aristotle’s apparent radical opposition to Plato) and to question the reading of the Nicomachean Ethics as a moral treatise (as I argue that Aristotle’s ethics and contemporary moral theory do not have much in common, so reading the Nicomachean Ethics through morality’s lenses actually prohibits an understanding of Aristotle’s thought). In my response to Prof. Facca’s comments I begin by explaining my reasons for avoiding translations of Aristotle’s key terminology but leaving these words in Greek script or in transliteration. The incommensurability of Aristotle’s and our worldviews is the main obstacle to understanding his work. I argue however that this incommensurability does not preclude accessing Aristotle’s world providing that the right methodology of studying his work is used. I emphasise how fundamental to this “master of common sense” is platonic man’s aim of becoming like God. I link this ignored aspect of Aristotle’s man with his concept of the human soul. I argue for the controversial interpretation of only one soul (specifi c to humankind) actualising itself to a diff erent degree in diff erent human bodies. Aristotle’s highest human good can be achieved only by very few human beings. Nevertheless, through them humankind fulfi ls its function in Aristotle’s world.


Keywords: Aristotle · Nicomachean Ethics · eudaimonia · soul · becoming like God

Leszek Skowroński – M. A. in Philosophy (Jagiellonian University), is writing his doctoral thesis on the concept of eudaimonia in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics at IFiS PAN. Research interests: Aristotle’s practical philosophy, ethics, the historiography of philosophy.   »  

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