Aristoteles rationella egoism

Jag vill dela med mig av lite Aristoteles citat som jag tycker om. Jag vill göra detta för att jag vill visa många objektivister som inte har studera Aristoteles att det inte var en slump att Ayn Rand beundrade honom. Jag vill börja med utvalda delar ur Den nikomachiska etiken. Låt oss börja med det högsta goda enligt Aristoteles:

What is the highest good? It seems different in different actions and arts; it is different in medicine, in strategy, and in the other arts likewise. What then is the good of each? Surely that for whose sake everything else is done. In medicine this is health, in strategy victory, in architecture a house, in any other sphere something else, and in every action and pursuit the end; for it is for the sake of this that all men do whatever else they do… Since there are evidently more than one end, and we choose some of these (e.g. wealth, flutes, and in general instruments) for the sake of something else, clearly not all ends are final ends; but the chief good is evidently something final…

Now we call that which is in itself worthy of pursuit more final than that which is worthy of pursuit for the sake of something else, and that which is never desirable for the sake of something else more final than the things that are desirable both in themselves and for the sake of that other thing, and therefore we call final without qualification that which is always desirable in itself and never for the sake of something else. Now such a thing happiness, above all else, is held to be; for this we choose always for self and never for the sake of something else, but honour, pleasure, reason, and every virtue we choose indeed for themselves (for if nothing resulted from them we should still choose each of them), but we choose them also for the sake of happiness, judging that by means of them we shall be happy. Happiness, on the other hand, no one chooses for the sake of these, nor, in general, for anything other than itself.

Så lycka är det högsta goda. Men Aristoteles är inte en hedonist. För att uppnå lycka måste man vara rationell:

Presumably, however, to say that happiness is the chief good seems a platitude, and a clearer account of what it is still desired. This might perhaps be given, if we could first ascertain the function of man. For just as for a flute-player, a sculptor, or an artist, and, in general, for all things that have a function or activity, the good and the ‘well’ is thought to reside in the function, so would it seem to be for man, if he has a function. Have the carpenter, then, and the tanner certain functions or activities, and has man none? … What then can this be?

Argumentet här är att precis som en vass kniv är en bra kniv så är en goda människa en människa som fyller sin ”funktion” väl. Vad är då människans funktion? För att upptäcka detta måste vi studera människans natur i kontrast till andra levande varelser:

Life seems to be common even to plants, but we are seeking what is peculiar to man. Let us exclude, therefore, the life of nutrition and growth. Next there would be a life of perception, but it also seems to be common even to the horse, the ox, and every animal. There remains, then, an active life of the element that has a rational principle; of this, one part has such a principle in the sense of being obedient to one, the other in the sense of possessing one and exercising thought…

Now if the function of man is an activity of soul which follows or implies a rational principle [then] we [can] state the function of man to be a certain kind of life, and this to be an activity or actions of the soul implying a rational principle, and the function of a good man to be the good and noble performance of these, and if any action is well performed when it is performed in accordance with the appropriate excellence: if this is the case, human good turns out to be activity of soul in accordance with virtue, and if there are more than one virtue, in accordance with the best and most complete.

Så lycka är det högsta goda och för att bli lycklig måste du handla i enlighet med din rationella natur. Det är vad som är dygdigt enligt Aristoteles. Låter bekant, inte sant?

Aristoteles argumenterar alltså för rationell egoism:

The question is also debated, whether a man should love himself most, or some one else. People criticize those who love themselves most, and call them self-lovers, using this as an epithet of disgrace, and a bad man seems to do everything for his own sake… But the facts clash with these arguments, and this is not surprising…” Irrationella egoister är dåliga och förtjänar ingen beröm eller beundran: ”Those who use the term as one of reproach ascribe self-love to people who assign to themselves the greater share of wealth, honours, and bodily pleasures… So those who are grasping with regard to these things gratify their appetites and in general their feelings and the irrational element of the soul; and most men are of this nature (which is the reason why the epithet has come to be used as it is-it takes its meaning from the prevailing type of self-love, which is a bad one); it is just, therefore, that men who are lovers of self in this way are reproached for being so.

Men rationella egoister är goda och förtjänar både beundran och uppskattning. De är de sanna egoisterna: ”That it is those who give themselves the preference in regard to objects of this sort that most people usually call lovers of self is plain; for if a man were always anxious that he himself, above all things, should act justly, temperately, or in accordance with any other of the virtues, and in general were always to try to secure for himself the honourable course, no one will call such a man a lover of self or blame him. But such a man would seem more than the other a lover of self; at all events he assigns to himself the things that are noblest and best… therefore the man who loves this and gratifies it is most of all a lover of self…

Aristoteles konstaterar därför följande: ”Therefore the good man should be a lover of self (for he will both himself profit by doing noble acts, and will benefit his fellows), but the wicked man should not; for he will hurt both himself and his neighbours, following as he does evil passions. For the wicked man, what he does clashes with what he ought to do, but what the good man ought to do he does; for reason in each of its possessors chooses what is best for itself, and the good man obeys his reason.”