“But yet I would be able, after not so many months, to realize what was there, in the peace and the strength that were growing in me through my constant immersion in this tremendous, unending cycle of prayer, ever renewing in its vitality, its inexhaustible, sweet energies, from hour to hour, from season to season in its returning round. And I, drawn into that atmosphere, into that deep, vast universal movement of vitalizing prayer, which is Christ praying in men to His father, could not help but begin at last to live, and to know that I was alive. And my heart could not help but cry out within me: “I will sing to the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. Let my speech be acceptable to Him: but I will take delight in the Lord.” — Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain (Orlando: Harcourt, 1998), 331.
I’m thankful to have a smart and virtuous colleague with whom to study for comps (one “hurdle” in my PhD program in philosophy), which as of right now I am planning to take in March of 2017.
My colleague asked me to try to articulate a broad summary of Aristotle, sort of from “the 30,000 foot view.” Here’s my stab at this challenge:
For Aristotle all of reality is in the process of becoming, except that he would not quite put it that way, in those Platonic terms. “Process,” yes, but “becoming,” no.
Rather, from the point of departure supplied by Parmenides, he’d say that all reality is in the process of moving or developing (out of potency) into full act, full energeia.
It is as if the Unmoved Mover is forever holding a carrot above the cosmos, and the cosmos is forever striving to reach the goal, but always already in the end failing, falling short. (The most compelling candidate for “success” in this striving would be that realm above the moon, that of the celestial bodies, perhaps the most outer sphere of them, with their quasi-unchanging and perfect circular motion.)
In the lower sphere, the realm of “nature” where things can be rationally penetrated and articulated only “on the whole and for the most part,” the closest approximation of the perfection / simplicity of the UM is the philosopher in contemplation, an activity (actus / energeia) uniquely related to eudaimonia, which he describes in glowing, metaphysical, divine terms at the very end of the Ethics.