Website owner: James Miller
The following excerpts come from Aristotle, "Ethics", Book X (The Philosophy of Aristotle, p. 365, 366): "Life is a kind of activity, and each person is active on those objects and with those faculties that he most likes. The musician exercises the sense of hearing on songs; the lover of mathematics is active with his intellect on problems; and so with each of the others". . . . . . . . . . . . . . "This will be apparent, too, from the fact that each pleasure is closely coupled with the activity it completes, and increases that activity. People who engage in an activity with pleasure are better judges of each question in that kind of activity, and more accurate too: those who like doing geometry become students of geometry, and are better at understanding it. Similarly, lovers of music and lovers of building and the rest improve in relation to their particular field by virtue of enjoying it: the pleasures increase the activities, and what increases something is coupled with it; but things that are coupled to things specifically different are themselves specifically different. This will be still more apparent from the fact that a pleasure from another source is an obstacle to an activity. Flute lovers cannot attend to an argument if they suddenly hear a flute playing, since they take more pleasure in flute playing than in their present activity. The pleasure that they derive from flute playing ruins the activity of arguing. This happens similarly in other cases, when a man is doing two things at once. The more pleasant of the two drives out the other, and the greater the discrepancy between the two pleasures the more it does so, so that it is not possible even to exercise the other activity. That is why people who gain intense pleasure from something cannot really do anything else. We do other things as well only when we obtain moderate pleasure from an activity. People who eat sweets in the theater do so above all when the actors are bad." Now in connection with the above excerpts from Aristotle let me make the following observation: My mind has always had a strong bent for reflection, thought, dreaming, musing, etc.. On the other hand I have always been unusually unobservant. I don't see the external world around me; I am too preoccupied with my own inner world. Aristotle says different people take pleasure in different activities. Some people take pleasure in "thinking". Others take pleasure in what their eyes see about them in their physical surroundings. Still others take pleasure in music, etc.. Each person develops most in that activity that gives him the most pleasure. And if he gets a very great deal of pleasure in one activity it is often at the expense of other possibly competing activities. If two activities are competing for his attention the more pleasant activity drives out the other. If, for example, he takes great delight in reflection, this activity drives out the activity of "observing the world about him" because both activities cannot take place at the same time. The same is true for dreaming. Along the same line, when I was in high school and college I used to have difficulty in reading. Why? Because I couldn't keep my mind on what I was trying to read, I couldn't concentrate on the subject matter. My mind had such a strong proneness to wander, such a strong tendency to daydream or to turn to other things that I couldn't read. I had great difficulty disciplining my mind sufficiently to read. My mind was "drawn away" by other activities that it stubbornly wanted to do instead of reading. When one is upset or agitated about something it is often hopeless to try to read. At least it is for me. I just can't concentrate on what I am trying to read. Feb 1984 More from SolitaryRoad.com:
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