In this passage we must not miss the verbal contradiction. The theoretic life is beyond the measure r i ' , of humanity; it is the life of God rather than of
man. Yet, from another point of view, it is the life wherein that which constitutes the very nature and individuality of man, his characteristic power or faculty, alone finds its appropriate exercise. The sharp division which Aristotle makes between the two lives which man can live, makes it difficult for him to say where the central principle of man's being is to be placed, and what, strictly speaking, constitutes the self or ego to which everything else in him is to be referred. His words remind us of a saying of Emerson that the consciousness of man is a sliding-scale, which at one time seems to him with the divine spirit, and at another with the very flesh of his body. The rift that tuns through the philosophy of Plato seems here to have widened till it rends human nature asunder. The result is a division of the contemplative from the practical life, which has had momentous results in the history of
* " ,s * i . ■ '. i • '' • 1 • • ■
It is the source of what has sometimes been called the ' intellectualism J of Greek philosophy, which passed from it into the Christian church in the form of the exaltation of the monastic life above any life that can be lived in the world. And Thomas Aquinas was only following out the principles of Aristotle when he exalted the
314 ARISTOTLE'S VIEW OF REASON
contemplative above the moral virtues, and maintained that the latter related to the former dispositive sed no% essentialiter.1 This transition of thought was already made easy by the religious turn of expression which Aristotle and his followers often use. It is specially marked in the Eudemim Ethics, where we are told that the highest life is to worship and contemplate God, depcLTweiv rov Oeov real Oeoopelv. Professor Burnet translates this by the familiar words: " to glorify God and to enjoy him for ever": but we must remember that for Aristotle this enjoyment consists in a pure contemplative activity, in which thought rises above all discourse of reason into unity with its object, and rests in it as its final and complete satisfaction.
The farther development of this view and the discussion of the error and truth which are mingled in it, will be the subject of the next lecture.
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