Comparison of Aristotle and Thomas Hobbes

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The foremost difference between Aristotle and Hobbes, and in turn classical and modern political philosophies’, with regard to a good life and happiness is that of normative judgments about the good life. While Hobbes rejects normative judgments about the good life and discusses human actions without attributions of moral quality, Aristotle offers the exact opposite. In Ethics, Aristotle differentiates between good and evil actions along with what the best good, or summum bonum, for all humans while Hobbes approach argues that good and bad varies from one individual to another with good being the object of an individuals appetite or desire, and evil being an object of his hate and aversion. In addition, Aristotle makes it clear that individuals have an ultimate purpose—that of political animals—that they should strive to become through trial and error throughout their life. Hobbes on the other hand rejects the idea of life having an ultimate purpose, “for there is no such finis ultimus (utmost aim) nor summum bonum (greatest good) as is spoken of in the books of the old moral philosophers…Felicity is a continual progress of the desire, from one object to another, the attaining of the former being still but the way to the latter”. Hobbes defines felicity as the satisfaction of one’s passions as stated in Leviathan “continual success in obtaining those things which a man from time to time desireth, that is to say, continual prospering, is that men call felicity. To highlight such differences between Aristotle and Hobbes we must first discuss the definition of virtue laid out by each. According to Aristotle virtue is a “mean between two vices, one of excess and one of deficiency”. From what we already know about Aristotle’s ... ... middle of paper ... ...liefs. Furthermore, to say that there should be one “excellent persons’” moral standards that all shall desire to work towards is, in my opinion, unfeasible and unjust. Especially now in the twenty first century, there is a slight possibility to form an argument that most citizens live my a semi common moral standard; however, with the numerous amounts of different cultural backgrounds and religious beliefs there is no way that there can be a specific standard set for all individuals to meet. Rather citizens may strive to achieve what they believe to be their highest form of virtue concerning not only themselves but their place within the state as well. Works Cited Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics (“Ethics”). 2nd ed. Trans. Terence Irwin. Hackett Publishing Company: Indianapolis, 1999. Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan. Hackett Publishing Company: Indianapolis, 1998.

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