Rationality and the Ethical Life-Aristotle and Kant
What is rationality and the ethical life? According to Aristotle and Kant, they have different views on what these two things mean. Aristotle explained that a virtuous activity has an intermediate position of excess and deficiency and also a mean relative to us. The definition of virtue is a mean, insofar, as it aims at what is intermediate. Aristotle listed ten virtues in his book that he saw as being most important in becoming a virtuous human being. Aristotle also explained that we must become who we are on our own.
Kant explained that humanity is defined as being rational. It is our duty by nature to act morally because we are rational. We have absolute worth because we are human beings. Aristotle and Kant have many similarities and differences in their understandings of the ethical life. Aristotle explained that the virtuous life is the excellent life, which is the happy life, which is the rational life. To be rational, we must practice the ten virtues. Rationality is rooted in our actions. If we see someone doing something out of the norm, we usually conclude that they are irrational.
Our actions play a huge role on what we believe in society to be rational or irrational. Aristotle’s understanding of the rational person is someone who practices the ten virtues in a public life because you cannot lead an excellent life if it is a private life. I agree with Aristotle because in order to become rational, you must practice these virtues while interacting with others. Aristotle also believes that the highest good is happiness. Happiness is the human function Happiness is the ultimate end for human beings and happiness alone makes life worth living.
However, we must achieve our own happiness by doing something with excellence. Aristotle explains that in order to lead an ethical life, we must leada rational life. Humans are born with the capabilityof becoming virtuous. We must become who we are. Kant explains that because we are human we are rational. All human beings are rational so it is universally shared. Categorical imperative explains tat we must act morally. Our intensions are to be moral when acing and it is our duty, by nature, to act morally. When we act, our intentions are always for goodwill.
Kant understood that with rationality comes freedom. When one is rational and free, then one is moral, which explains moral law. Because we are humans, we have absolute worth. I cannot use someone as a means to my ends. Slavery is an example of using humans as a means to some sort of ends. The law of humanity explains that we have absolute worth because we are humans and you cannot put a price on human beings. Kant believes that human beings have absolute dignity and worth because we are human. While studying both the philosophers, I found more differences than similarities in their works.
I believe that both philosophers make interesting arguments in what it really means to lead the ethical life. While Aristotle explained that we must become virtuous throughout our lives by interacting with others and leading an excellent life to find happiness. Kant explained that we are born with absolute dignity and worth because we are human. Aristotle and Kant both argue that because we are human, we are rational people. They both believe that because we are human, we have the capability of becoming rational.