At Oakridge, my Philosophy class has been stretching their minds to understand the many metaphysical conundrums found in Aristotle’s highly complex system of ideas. At times, Aristotle sounds like a hard-nosed, anti-Platonic physicalist; at other moments, his philosophy ventures into transcendental territory not too far removed from that which Plato explored decades before at his “otherworldly” Academy. More recently, we talked about Aristotle’s moral philosophy, and like his Metaphysics, Aristotle’s moral outlook is best described as teleological in nature. In other words, the morally good life is one that is goal-oriented and purpose-driven. Every human act - according to Aristotle - is performed for some purpose, and that identified purpose is what makes the act “good” morally speaking.
-Is it impossible to live the purpose-driven, morally fulfilling life in the social space of Dublin? In Platonic terms, paralysis prevents the rationalist ascension towards transcendental enlightenment. There’s “no exit” intellectually speaking in the dystopian cave of Dublin. Aristotle might add that paralysis also prevents purpose, forever imprisoning its inhabitants in a cyclical rat race of disappointment that is their lives.
-Many of you mentioned Aristotle’s notion that it’s necessary to have a certain level of intellectual knowledge to live “the good life.” The contemplative life is closest to the path of happiness, but such a leisurely life also remains a privilege materially speaking. Many students mention Eveline’s deficient knowledge of love, for instance, suggesting that improved understanding of the concept would have made it easier for Eveline to leave. I suggest that it potentially could have made the opposite decision easier as well. (Did she really love this Frank character?)
-Some students made the observation that the only characters that achieved their goals were ones that we would also want to label morally despicable. Remember Aristotle’s notion of “the golden mean of moderation.” Maren illustrated the point well when she described Eveline’s choices as being either too deficient or too excessive. The two gallants, for instance, live a life that strays far from the mean of moderation. This is why their life, according to Aristotle, fails to qualify as “the good way of living.”