Living well, attaining eudaimonia, requires more than simply following the right rules. This is because “the accidents of fortune are many:” regardless of our intentions, we do not control the circumstances, or consequences, of our deeds. When Aristotle speaks of ‘sound’ character he means a person who makes judgments while recognizing “that justice does not prevail in the world.” A person might struggle to do everything right and nonetheless come to disaster. Aristotle therefore insists a life can only be called eudaimon in hindsight, viewed as a complete whole....
But these accounts place the living actor in a pickle: How is one to make sound judgments about their own life, or the actions of others, while still caught up in that contingent and hazardous ‘flux’ of action? What orientation is appropriate for navigating this kind of reality? Or, in more Arendtian terms, how is one to think what they are doing? In her writings on judgment, Arendt frequently turns to Aristotle and Kant for answers to this question. She argues for an ‘enlarged mentality:’ learning to think from the plural perspectives of others about particular questions or objects appear to them; or about how one’s own actions might appear to others. But what does this learning entail? One answer, I propose, may be found by looking more closely at Arendt’s turn to Aristotle’s Poetics in her description of action.
No time to choose when the truth must die
No time to lose or say goodbye
No time to prepare for the victim that’s there
No time to suffer or blink
And no time to think