Conflicting Lifestyles When comparing the contemplative lifestyle to the moral virtuous lifestyle, one finds the differences to rest on the three types of good: goods of the body, external goods, and goods of the soul. One conflict comes between leading a courageous, brave life and desiring happiness. To explain the aforementioned I feel it necessary to define true courage. It seems true courage revolves around death. Not every kind of death is considered noble, for example death from drowning or death from disease. Aristotle feels the noblest death is death in battle because man is faced with the greatest dangers.
To die a noble death, one must be in a situation where he can die at any moment, yet still is fearless (bk 3, 1115 a 29-1115 b 2). One can see how being this fearless can come in to conflict with the happiness of a virtuous person. The main point where these two lifestyles come into conflict is dealing with the different types of goods. To be a courageous man, especially when it comes down to dying a noble death in battle, one must have goods of the body.
One must be strong and healthy enough to do one's absolute best in battle, or they are not using their full potential. To live the virtuous life, one must have external goods. For example, if one wants to be virtuous by giving to charity, one must have external goods such as money. When discussing the high-minded man and his pursuit of honor, one must establish how necessary honor is.
Aristotle states, "Honor fits that description, for it is the greatest of all external goods. Consequently, it is in matters of honor and dishonor that a high-minded man has the right attitude." (bk 4, 1123 b, 19-22) Aristotle defines the high-minded man as someone who feels that they deserve honor and are correct in their assumption. While these men do deserve honor, and it is what they strive for most, honor is not considered a perfect virtue because it is instilled by other men through compliments. Aristotle states, "For no honor can be worthy of perfect virtue. Yet he will accept it, because they will have no greater tribute to pay him." (bk 4, 1124 a, 8-11) The high-minded man can also be dependent on other external goods. For example, many wealthy and or noble men are looked at with honor.
Aristotle clarifies that one should not be given honor simply due to economic or social status. He does, however, admit that if one is of wealth and or nobility, and is deserving of honor, one will receive more honor than a commoner. (bk 4, 1124 a, 20-30) There are two main different types of justice, complete qualified, and complete unqualified. Complete unqualified is doing something for the betterment of one's community while not expecting anything in return. Complete qualified justice is doing something to avoid breaking the law. Aristotle feels that complete unqualified justice is superior to complete qualified justice because of the motivating factors behind complete unqualified justice.
Aristotle states, "The law commands to live in conformity with every virtue and forbids to live in conformity with any wickedness. What produces virtue entire are those lawful measures which are enacted for education in citizenship." (bk. 5, 1130 b, 22-25) Aristotle is saying that the truly just measures are not simply the ones that stay within the confines of the law, but the measures that stay within the confines of the law, and are for the betterment of the community. Practically speaking, one can tell whether one is being truly just or not by examining one's motives. I have attempted to summarize and compare the various conflicts that occur in Aristotle's Nicomachea n Ethics.
By pointing out the different problems with the different lifestyles of the moral virtuous life, I attempt to support Aristotle's conclusion that the contemplative life is superior to the moral, virtuous life. The reason is that when one leads a moral virtuous life, one is dependant on either goods of the body, or external goods. When one leads a contemplative life, one only needs goods of the soul. Reason being, that when one lives only to learn and understand things, outside forces are irrelevant. Granted, even when living the contemplative life, one needs a certain degree of bodily good; namely decent health, but one does not need abundance. One needs no external goods in the way of praise or money, because the contemplative life consists of self-assurance and self-reliance.
There would be no high-minded men if there were no one there to praise them. There would be no truly courageous men if there were no wars. High-minded men need honor, courageous men need both internal and external goods, yet the purely contemplative man needs little or none of the aforementioned, therefore explaining how the contemplative life transcends issues that the moral, virtuous life cannot tackle.