This is a quick note on Aristotle’s ideas on purpose:
- He believed that something is good if it fulfils its purpose. For example, a plate is ‘good’ if it fulfils its purpose to serve food.
- This is based on Aristotle’s ideas of causality.
- As everything has a Final Cause, it is possible to determine what is ‘good’ by examining the organism’s apparent purpose.
- The basis of the Roman Catholic morality is Natural Law which was put forward by Aquinas. Aquinas married that ideas of Aristotle to Christian Theology.
- Aristotle spoke of eudaemonia, ‘greatest good’ or spiritual satisfaction. This good comes about through self-realisation and fulfilment of human potential.
- The eudaemonia is achieved through exercising the virtues, which would not only seek pleasure but knowledge and spiritual satisfaction.
Personally, I think that these are good values to base an ethical theory on because they are logically. However, in the gist of mixing it with Christian theology I believe Aquinas lost the logical sense it made. This is because with Natural Law, there can be a lot of ‘hypocrisy’ e.g. it was OK for Mother Teresa to devote her life to the poor and not get married and have kids and people like her are exempt from the law but for an average person they must fulfil the law of getting married and having kids.