Volume 58, Issue 2, June 2018
The Most Complete Activity
This paper provides an interpretation of Aristotle’s claim that activities (energeiai) such as seeing, which are complete (teleiai) in form, can nevertheless be more or less complete depending on the condition of the faculty and the character of the object on which the faculty acts (Nicomachean Ethics 10.4.1174b14–20). After reviewing and criticizing current interpretations, it argues that activities that are complete in form are more or less complete in that they can attain their end to a lesser or greater degree. The notion of degrees of completeness is then used to show that Aristotle’s seemingly conflicting claims on the possibility of acting virtuously in the Nicomachean Ethics are elements of a unified picture in which actions display different degrees of virtue or excellence.