Volume 94, Issue 2, Spring 2020
Aristotle on the Proper Attitude Toward True Divinity
Aristotle does not explicitly state how it is that one should ideally relate to the true gods of his metaphysics, like the prime mover. He does, however, speak of an unreciprocated relationship of friendship (φιλία) between humans and such gods. I argue that Aristotle’s conception of the magnanimous person sheds light on that relationship. The magnanimous person, who is a philosopher, devalues humanity and devotes her life and efforts to the divine. Thus, contrary to some scholars, Aristotle’s conception of magnanimity resembles quite closely the ideals of humility and even “lowliness of spirit” presented by Aristotelian medieval thinkers such as Moses Maimonides. Aristotle’s endorsement of total devotion to the divine seems to go against the natural tendency of organisms to further their own lives and species. Nevertheless, I argue that this recommendation is consistent with his teleological view of nature.