How have we fallen into the morass of relativism when the ancients saw so clearly the absolute despair of such a way.
From Aristotle: “…and if we do not desire everything for the sake of something else (for, if that is so, the process will go on ad infinitum, and our desire will be idle and futile), clearly this end will be good and the supreme good.” —Nichomachean Ethics, 1.1.
Oh Aristotle! Look how the argument for a supreme good is parenthetical. It is relegated to a secondary status. It is not even deserving of serious attention. For the sake of the deeply confused Aristotle inserts it. But he will not lower his attention to he who needs time and energy and attention given to the proof that there is a supreme good. Of course there is. Why? Else desire would be futile. Why? Because it could not, in principle, be satisfied.
Is there work to be done in clarity on the supreme good? Of course. What is important to note here is how that work cannot begin until one takes seriously that it exists. The beginning of the labor is in the worth-whileness of the end.
Don’t succumb to despair. Do you think good is relative AND that you can be satisfied? Oh dear reader. Join me in assertion of the supreme good, and then we will begin the task of clarifying its nature.
For my part I think there is much in Aristotle’s effort to clarity. Understanding that the human is a rational animal Aristotle holds out contemplation of the truth as the good of the rational part and virtuous shaping of the animal/feeling soul as the good of the animal part. Not a bad start. In fact, while I continue to seek clarification I will aim at acceptance of the truth and prudence, temperance, courage and justice. Will I go far wrong? I don’t think so.