“Aristotle and the Joy of Working”

Freedom Center Colloquium Series

On February 21st, David Keyt will be giving a talk entitled, “Aristotle and the Joy of Working,” as part of the Freedom Center Colloquium Series. David is an Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Washington. Here is an abstract for the talk:

“Aristotle’s principles are usually sound, though he often misapplies them. In ethical and political philosophy two principles of his that I believe are sound (or at least highly defensible) are (i) that the goal of an ideal political community should be the happiness of its citizens and (ii) that happiness is activity is accord with the excellences (aretai) of our rational faculties. Aristotle’s misapplication of these two principles leads him to claim that happiness extends only to activity in accordance with moral and intellectual excellence (aretē) and to espouse a colonial political ideal in which a small intellectual and moral elite governs everyone else. The point I make is that, according to another Aristotelian principle, (iii) there are three sorts of rational activity, not just two. In addition to acting (praxis) and scientific thinking (theōria), there is also making (poiēsis). From (ii) and (iii) together, it follows that the activity of making things is a genuine form of happiness. Once this point is acknowledged, Aristotle’s political ideal must be expanded to include skilled workers among the full members of the political community as well as those engaged in theoretical and practical activities, that is, in science and government. The ideal that emerges is democratic. Objections to democracy on the grounds that workers are incapable of governing themselves are met, in the ideal case at least, by referring to Aristotle’s own argument about the wisdom of the multitude.”

Please join us in the Kendrick Room at the Freedom Center for David’s talk!