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Pursuits of WisdomSix Ways of Life in Ancient Philosophy from Socrates to Plotinus$
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John M. Cooper

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691138602

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691138602.001.0001

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Philosophy as Two Ways of Life

(p.70) Chapter 3 Aristotle
Pursuits of Wisdom

John M. Cooper

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses the Aristotelian way of life. For Aristotle, philosophy is not a way of life, as it was for Socrates. It is two distinct ones. Aristotle's contemplatives are, of course, complete philosophers. They lead lives of practical virtue in just the way other private citizens who possess those virtues in full measure do. The contemplative is both a philosopher of human affairs and a theoretical philosopher. Contemplatives live their philosophy in a double way. Still, the life they lead is correctly called a contemplative one, not one of practical virtue. It is one of the two ways that for Aristotle philosophy is a way of life. But for those “philosophers of human affairs”—virtuous political leaders, fully virtuous ordinary citizens—who are not also accomplished theoretical philosophers, philosophy is nonetheless just as much their way of life. The thinking and analysis and systematic argument, and systematically organized understanding, that belong to philosophy as a whole, both practical and theoretical, as its defining and distinctive characteristic, are engaged and expressed in all the thoughts that give rise to and direct all the choices, actions, and activities constituting the whole of their lives.

Keywords:   Aristotle, ancient philosophy, human life, virtues, contemplative life, metaphysics, biology, logic knowledge

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