What is the proper function of the eye?

What is the meaning of the eye?

In the Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle begins with the question of what the good is. What is it that human beings aim at? What, in other words, is happiness? What is the meaning of life?

Surely it would be good, if there were such a thing, for us to know what it is. But we live in a secular age, in a time beyond superstition, and we know that there aren’t any such things. A twitter anon says that post-modernism means the failure of all meta-narratives. There’s no way anyone can believe in old things like Christianity or even the pagan virtues. Be whatever you want. Do whatever you want! Remake your body however you want! It doesn’t matter.

But how can we answer such objections? I like the approach Aristotle takes. He proposes that there must be a function, a proper activity, for man. The argument is interesting. Has an eye or a hand a function, and the human being none? It wouldn’t make sense for the parts to have functions but the whole not to have a function.

You go to the eye doctor and say that your eye doesn’t work well. You can’t see. How do we know that this is a problem? Maybe your eye isn’t sick at all! If we decide that the function of the eye is to serve as mere decoration for a face, then that’s the case, right? Who am I to say otherwise?

There are people who go to doctors to have perfectly healthy parts of the body amputated, because it feels wrong for them to have healthy limbs.

We presume that we know what an eye is for, and if it doesn’t doesn’t have 20/20 vision, we correct it until it does. How do we know that it needs correction? Correction implies the correct. Hidden in the background is the notion that humans ought to be able to see well. This “ought” is a hint to the telos or function or happiness of human beings.

What is it? Stay tuned.

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