Plato's Sophist [171-172]

a prospect into the basic conception of human Dasein which served as a guideline for Aristotle: human Dasein is properly attained only if it always is what it can be in the highest sense, i.e., when it tarries in the highest degree, as long as possible, and most nearly always, in the pure pondering of what is everlasting. Yet insofar as man is mortal, and insofar as he needs recreation and relaxation in the widest sense, the constant tarrying with what is everlasting, the ultimately appropriate comportment to what always is, is denied him.

We want to conclude our consideration of σοφία by presentifying the same phenomenon as seen from the opposite side. Though σοφία is the highest mode of ἀληθεύειν, it is, on the other hand, still a ἕξις τῆς ψυχῆς, i.e., a ἕξις of the Being of man, and then the question arises as to what extent the possibility of human εὐδαιμονία resides in σοφία. The task is therefore to conceive σοφία and its ἀληθεύειν as a mode of Being of human Dasein. Since for Aristotle σοφία is the highest possibility of human Dasein, he must also see in it εὐδαιμονία.

§25. The priority of σοφία with regard to εὐδαιμονία (Nic. Eth. X, 6-7).

a) The idea of εὐδαιμονία (Nic. Eth. X, 6). The ontological meaning of εὐδαιμονία as the fulfilled Being of the ψυχή.

Aristotle takes εὐδαιμονία in a strictly ontological sense, as τέλος. This ontological meaning of εὐδαιμονία must be kept in mind. λοιπὸν περὶ εὐδαιμονίας τύπῳ διελθεῖν, ἐπειδὴ τέλος αὐτὴν τίθεμεν τῶν ἀνθρωπίνων (1176a31ff.). "Of those things that touch the Being of man, we name that which constitutes its finished state εὐδαιμονία." It constitutes the proper Being of human Dasein. This Being amounts to nothing else than presence, pure being present to that which always is. Now εὐδαιμονία, insofar as it constitutes the completeness of this Being, cannot be a mere ἕξις, i.e., a mere possibility at man's disposal, without any opportunity to be actualized. For in that case it could also pertain to somebody who sleeps his whole life away, who lives the life of a plant. Formulated differently, it cannot be an optional capacity which sometimes is awake and sometimes sleeps. On the contrary, εὐδαιμονία, insofar as it concerns the Being of man as its finished state, as the proper Being of man's highest ontological possibilities, must be a Being of man which is at every moment, constantly, what it is. It does not concern a mere possibility of Being but is this possibility in its presence, ἐνέργεια. μᾶλλον εἰς ἐνέργειάν τινα θετέον (1176b1). Accordingly, εὐδαιμονία, as man's proper Being, must be reduced to ἐνέργεια. Ἐνέργεια means nothing else than presence, pure immediate presence at hand. τῶν δ᾽ ἐνεργειῶν αἳ μέν εἰσιν ἀναγκαῖαι καὶ δι' ἕτερα αἱρεταὶ αἳ δὲ καθ᾽ αὑτάς (b2f.).