Outline of Complete Thyself
You might have noticed that the pace of blogging has slowed around here. There are two primary reasons for this state of affairs. One is that we recently got a golden retriever puppy named Chance and he's keeping us busy!
The other is that I've been working more seriously on my forthcoming book about Aristotle's conception of human fulfillment. Along with creating many book and article summaries, I've put together a rough outline. Although it's subject to significant revision as I continue my research, what follows is an accurate snapshot of my current thinking.
Chapter 1: Fulfillment
- The four lives: making money, having fun, giving back, seeking truth.
- Why Aristotle skips over the life of making money.
- Having fun: satisfying the natural self’s unreflective and unlimited desires.
- Giving back: contributing to the shared goals and activities of community life.
- Seeking truth: adding to human knowledge and wisdom through inquiry and reflection.
- Fundamentally, living is activity (energeia).
- Types of aliveness and levels of flourishing in plants, animals, and human beings.
- The "difference of man" and the difference it makes.
- Core human capacities: concepts, language, values, intentionality, sociality, etc.
- Fulfillment is not a feeling of satisfaction but the activation and development of capacities.
- Maturation as a process of developing ever greater unity, integration, and coherence.
- The self as an achievement.
- Taking life seriously.
- The task of living a fully human life.
Chapter 2: Character
- Character is the most complete development of the capacities for action and emotion.
- Taking goodness seriously.
- Learning to be good, educating your desires.
- Building character as a process of internalization.
- Character applies to both feeling and doing.
- Virtues moderate both pleasure and pain.
- Balance, the mean, what's appropriate, what's beautifully right.
- Internal order and disorder; unity, integration, and coherence.
- How the virtues foster order in our emotional lives, esp. with respect to pleasures and pains.
- Excellence of character vs self-restraint and unrestraint.
- Virtues as acquired traits and consistent practices.
- Beyond virtue: virtuosity in living.
- Aristotle's lists of virtues.
- Justice as a unifying principle.
- Virtue subsumes and supersedes pleasure and pain.
- The limits of virtue.
Chapter 3: Wisdom
- Wisdom as the most complete development of the capacity for making decisions.
- Taking deliberation seriously.
- The example of humaneness as a wise adjustment to justice.
- Situational thinking and practical truth.
- Maintaining awareness of the good in action.
- The process of deliberation.
- Action with and without deliberation.
- Beyond choice: commitment.
- Wisdom and the unity of the virtues.
- Wisdom as a practice.
- Wisdom subsumes and supersedes virtue.
Chapter 4: Love
- Love as the most complete development of the capacity for forming relationships.
- Taking relationships seriously.
- The importance of sociality in human life.
- The three forms of philia.
- The activity of loving is better than being loved.
- Marriage, family, friendship, brotherhood, community.
- Philia as a practice.
- Love subsumes and supersedes virtue.
Chapter 5: Love of Wisdom
- Sagacity as the most complete development of the capacity for understanding.
- Taking truth seriously.
- The active life vs the contemplative life.
- Beyond contemplation: the examined life.
- Serious leisure.
- Cultivating wonder.
- The higher pleasures and the higher reaches of what's beautifully right.
- The many ways in which human life is suffused with thought and awareness.
- The importance of insight and "understanding the why".
- Philosophy as a practice.
- The love of wisdom subsumes and supersedes all else.
Chapter 6: Aristotle Today
- How life has changed in the last 2400 years.
- The four lives revisited.
- The necessity and centrality of work in modern life.
- What if anything does Aristotle have to say about work?
- The status of women, then and now.
- The impact of modernity (scientific revolution, industrial revolution, Enlightenment, etc.).
- Individualism and instrumentalism in modern life.
- The snares, attachments, and distortions of modern society.
- The continuing relevance of Aristotle's philosophic insights.
- Toward a society of fulfillment.
- Fulfillment through the stages of life.
- Making your life complete.
(Cross-posted at philosopher.coach.)
FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION
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