§11. The τέλειον [78–80]

ἀρετή appears to be such an ἀγαθόν, the manner and mode of being-there that we speak of when we say that one is a competent fellow, “competence,” the way of having the possibility of one’s own being at one’s disposal at each moment. The ἀρετή of the flute player consists of having the possibility of flute playing at his disposal in a distinctive sense. Such a way of being and living can, however, sleep itself away in a certain sense. One can be competent, and still sleep one’s life away. If this way of having the genuine being-possibility at one’s disposal is to be an ἀγαθόν, then it must be in the mode of being-awake, and it must itself fulfill the possibility of having it at one’s disposal, πρᾶξις. For this reason, the genuine ἀγαθόν of human being-there is, in the end, εὐπραξία or εὐζωία.63 The εὖ is not something available out in the world, but rather is a how of living itself. From the determination that the ἀγαθόν is itself a how of concern itself, we have a series of aspects that define the ἀγαθόν, and so offer a precursor of what alone can satisfy so definite a sense of ἀγαθόν. It belongs to this sense of ἀγαθόν that whoever finds himself in εὐζωία has εὐτυχία. Concrete being-there can fulfill itself in such a way as to nevertheless suffer bad luck. This εὐτυχία, as a further aspect of the εὐδαιμονία of the ἄριστον, marks the point at which εὐζωία is being-in-a-world with its determinate conditions and possibilities; and that the εὐτυχία is included shows that this ethic is not a fantasy, but rather seeks the ἀνθρώπινον ἀγαθόν in its possibility.

In Chapter 4, Aristotle comes to the conclusion that there cannot be a good in itself. Ἀγαθόν is in itself always πέρας of a πρᾶξις, and this πρᾶξις is, however, here and now, going toward what is here and now. Πρᾶξις is always περὶ τὰ ἔσχατα καὶ τὰ καθ᾿ ἕκαστα,64 “going toward the outermost, toward the ultimate here and now,” καὶ τὰ καθ᾿ ἕκαστα, toward “the particular as such in its definiteness.” For this reason, the idea of an ἀγαθόν καθόλου65 is senseless, as it misjudges the being-character of the ἀγαθόν itself.

Against this, and in order to more sharply determine the ἀγαθόν καθ᾿ αὐτό, Aristotle blazes a new path, namely by carrying through an investigation of the being-character of the ἀγαθόν. The ἀγαθόν is πέρας or τέλος, “end” in the sense of constituting a completedness. In Chapter 5, he defines the ἀγαθόν as τέλος, more precisely as τέλειον.66 In preparation for considering the end in its character as end, I will interpret Chapter 16 of Book 5 of the Metaphysics.

§11. The τέλειον (Metaphysics Δ16)

As with the terms ὄν and ἀγαθόν, τέλειον has an ambiguity.67 Just like οὐσία, ἀγαθόν means (1) something good, a being that is good; (2) being-good, goodness.

63. Eth. Nic. Α 8, 1098 b 21 sq.

64. Eth. Nic. Ζ 12, 1143 a 32 sq.: ἔστιν δὲ τῶν καθ’ ἕκαστα καὶ τῶν ἐσχάτων ἅπαντα τὰ πρακτά.

65. Eth. Nic. Α 4, 1096 a 11.

66. Eth. Nic. Α 5, 1097 a 33.

67. Cf. Met. Ζ 6, 1031 a 28 sqq.

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