Via Ad Deus – Road to God

Finding our new, old road to God | Bellevue First Congregational Church, Bellevue, WA

Aristotle — Philosopher #2

A week ago the choir sang the Bluegrass Mass.  It was far and above the most delightful choir experience I have ever have.  I’ve had a lot of great choir experiences — Handel’s Messiah for 1000 people, Seattle Symphony concerts at Beneroya, Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Issaquah Chorale.  But the Bluegrass Mass topped them all!  I felt like a kid at Christmas each time we’ve gotten to sing it.  For the first performance I showed up an hour early! — me!  just because I couldn’t think of anything better to do than listen to the musicians and be ready to jump on stage.


The thing that made this work stand out was the complexity.  The Bluegrass Mass pushed the envelope of rhythms and notes to the very edge of my ability.  It felt like a test — a final exam — that our choir passed with 102%.

That type of joy through fulfillment is addressed by Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, edited and composed by Nicomachus, Aristotle’s son and student.  According to the professor of the Great Courses Meaning of Life lectures, Dr.  Jay Garfield of Smith College,

The goal is Eudaimonia — often translated as happiness but actually means to live well, flourishing — a globally successful life to be proud of at the end of days.

and in short:

Why do we do anything — what is the highest good that all of our good work is aimed at?  Aristotle argues that the collective good is always better than the individual good.  Politics (community living) is the domain that orders and governs all arts and sciences, so it is the master science.
My experience with the Bluegrass Mass fits eudimonia in that it accesses excellence, community, virtue, vigor, and accomplishment.
However, I really don’t think Aristotle has the right answer to the Meaning of LIfe — and it looks like I’m not alone based on all of the philosophers since who have asked this question.  Aristotle’s eudaimonia seems to offer lots of meaningful hurdles in the journey of life, and is a way to mark and measure quality of life.  But something tells me that the Meaning of Life does not require happiness or fulfillment.

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This entry was posted on June 9, 2013 by in Uncategorized.

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