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Ways of Life.

Papers of the 3rd Meeting of the Collegium Politicum, Madrid.
Edited by Francisco Leonardo Lisi.
2004. 284 S. 48,00 Euro. 14,8 x 21 cm. Hardcover. 978-3-89665-291-1.
(Studies in Ancient Philosophy Bd. 5)

Inhaltsverzeichnis/Table of content (PDF)

Prospekt (Druckversion/PDF) / Information leaflet (Print version/PDF)


The central issue of classical practical philosophy is, beyond all doubt, the question of and the way in which individual and society can attain it.

From early on, the quest for eudaimonia was related to the problem concerning the appropriate way of life needed to attain it. The present state of our sources does not permit us to establish when the codification of the different kinds of life began, but already Plato clearly distinguishes three kinds of life: the life of pleasure, that of political power and that of wisdom. In spite of the importance of the subject, there is no extensive treatment of its history, since Joly's well-known book almost fifty years ago (1959).

Even for Plato and Aristotle there are practically no comprehensive studies about the relationship of the different kinds of life and their function in the political and ethical thought of both thinkers, especially of how they are related to the political dimension of eudaimonia.

Plato and, in particular, Aristotle redefined the traditional concept of eudaimonia in a way not always clear to interpreters. It was Aristotle who conceded to the practical question of human happiness a central place in his philosophy, and in particular because he was the first to make the question in strictly pragmatic terms: what is the good that human beings can attain and how can they do it. Aristotle's ethical thought represents a crucial change in the methodology and the interests of Greek practical philosophy. Notwithstanding, there are apparent differences or even contradictions in the treatment of the subject in his work, since in the EE, the Politics, and most of the EN, he seems to maintain that the ultimate good for man consists in virtuous political action, while in the 10th. Book of the EN he expressly endorses that happiness consists in the intellectual activity of the highest part of the soul.

The present volume collects 13 papers presented on occasion of the 3rd. meeting of the Collegium Politicum, which represent the different approaches that now coexist in the Aristotelian scholarship. An ample overview of the status quaestionis precedes the volume.

Three contributions introduce different aspects of the wider field in which Aristotle's position arises. J.-M. Betrand considers the topic of drunkenness, related to the life of enjoyment and pleasure, in the rhetoric and philosophical writings of the IV century B.C. J.-P. Pradeau concentrates on the same topic in Plato's criticism of democracy. In the last contribution of this introductory part, M. Vegetti focuses another sort of life in the practice of the Platonic Academy: the political life, which longs for might and power.

The seven papers of the central part are devoted to Aristotle's thought. Luc Brisson compares Plato's and Aristotle's theory on contemplation. Francisco L. Lisi criticizes Rowe's lecture of EN I 7, and the inclusive interpretation of the passage. Christopher Rowe replies to him, to S. Broadie and R. Kraut about happiness and the best life in Aristotle's writings on practical philosophy. Ada Neschke-Hentschke critiques P. Pellegrin's (1990) interpretation of the structure of the Politics. Silvia Campese writes about the 'economic' bioi in the first Book of the Politics, while Silvia Gastaldi and Lucio Bertelli present a detailed discussion of Aristotle's position about the best life in Pol. VII.

The last part of this volume is dedicated to the reception of the philosophical ideal of the best life. Guido Cappelli analyzes the debate in the Italian Humanism of the XVth. Century, and Francesco Gregorio studies the reception of the motive of the three ways of human life in Leo Strauss and Hannah Arendt.


The central issue of classical practical philosophy is, beyond all doubt, the question of eudaimonia and the way in which individual and society can attain it. From early on, the quest for eudaimonia was related to the problem concerning the appropriate way of life needed to attain it.

The present state of our sources does not permit us to establish when the codification of the different kinds of life began, but already Plato clearly distinguishes three kinds of life: the life of pleasure, that of political power and that of wisdom. In spite of the importance of the subject, there is no extensive treatment of its history, since Joly's well-known book almost fifty years ago (1959). Even for Plato and Aristotle there are practically no comprehensive studies about the relationship of the different kinds of life and their function in the political and ethical thought of both thinkers, especially of how they are related to the political dimension of eudaimonia. Plato and, in particular, Aristotle redefined the traditional concept of eudaimonia in a way not always clear to interpreters.

The four initial papers analyze the historical context in which Aristotle's doctrine of the best life arises, mainly Plato and the orators, and give an ample overview in the scholar discussion of the last 50 years. The seven papers, which follow in the central part are devoted to Aristotle's thought, discuss the main interpretative problems existing in NE, EE and Politics and Aristotle's debt to Plato's theory of contemplation.

The volume closes with two papers, which are devoted to the reception of the Aristotelian ideal of the best life in the Italian Renaissance and in contemporary philosophy.


Francisco Leonardo Lisi is professor of Greek Philology and director of the Instituto de Estudios Clásicos "Lucio Anneo Séneca" (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid).

His main publications are devoted to Plato and Aristotle.



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Andere neue Titel aus dieser Schriftenreihe/Other new books from this series:
Studies in Ancient Philosophy

13 · Ioppolo, Anna Maria. Dibattiti filosofici ellenistici. A cura di R. Chiaradonna, B. Centrone, D. Quarantotto, E. Spinelli.

12 · Boeri, Marcelo D.; Salles, Ricardo. Los Filósofos Estoicos: Ontología, Lógica, Física y Ética.

11 · Petrucci, Federico M. Teone di Smirne: Expositio rerum mathematicarum ad legendum Platonem utilium.

10 · Hermeneutic Philosophy and Plato. Edited by Christopher Gill and François Renaud.

9 · Platone. La teoria del sogno nel Teeteto. Edited by Giuseppe Mazzara and Valerio Napoli.