Complete Thyself

Aristotle on Human Fulfillment

by Peter Saint-Andre

The timeless message of Aristotle’s philosophy is that your course in life is determined primarily by your character: it’s not a matter of fate or luck, but of choice and effort. Your highest goal is the realization and completion of your nature and potential - an achieved excellence of doing and feeling and thinking, of character and wisdom.

Yet Aristotle’s world was very different from ours. The ancient Greeks lived in small communities that were frequently at war with each other, their economy was largely based on the work of slaves (who were often acquired in such wars), their society considered women to be second-class citizens, their thinkers were aristocrats who devalued physical labor, they lacked the tools of modern science and technology, they assumed that the stars and planets were immortal beings, and so on.

Given the great gulf between Aristotle’s world and ours, how can we apply his insights to living a better life in modern society? This book will show you how.

Although Aristotle's views on human flourishing are very deep and thus can be hard to understand, much of that difficulty stems from poor translations of his key concepts and from a short-sighted focus on his Nicomachean Ethics without considering his writings on nature, animals, human beings, communities, knowledge, emotion, education, or even his Eudemian Ethics. This brief epitome will be a friendly guide to his conception of the good life.

I continue to work my way through Aristotle by reading his writings and much of the secondary literature (here are my recommended books), making notes, composing a rough draft and an outline, and even thinking about giving a lecture course. I am also completing an analysis of Positive Psychology from an Aristotelian perspective. As I do so, I'm also occasionally posting snapshots of my research:

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