Aristotles Nicomachean Ethics Summary

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Aristotles Nicomachean Ethics Summary

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Aristotle \u0026 Virtue Theory: Crash Course Philosophy #38

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Aristotle also points out that we do not give much gratitude and praise at all to someone simply for not taking which might however earn praise for being just. Aristotle also points out that "generous people are loved practically the most of those who are recognized for virtue, since they confer benefits, and this consists in giving" and he does not deny that generous people often won't be good at maintaining their wealth, and are often easy to cheat. Aristotle goes further in this direction by saying that it might seem that it is better to be wasteful than to be stingy: a wasteful person is cured by age, and by running out of resources, and if they are not merely unrestrained people then they are foolish rather than vicious and badly brought-up.

Also, a wasteful person at least benefits someone. Aristotle points out also that a person with this virtue would not get money from someone he should not get it, in order to give "for a decent sort of taking goes along with a decent sort of giving. Such people are actually often wasteful and stingy at the same time, and when trying to be generous they often take from sources whence they should not for example pimps, loan sharks, gamblers, thieves , and they give to the wrong people.

Such people can be helped by guidance, unlike stingy people, and most people are somewhat stingy. In fact, ends Aristotle, stinginess is reasonably called the opposite of generosity, "both because it is a greater evil than wastefulness, and because people go wrong more often with it than from the sort of wastefulness described". Magnificence is described as a virtue similar to generosity except that it deals with spending large amounts of wealth. Aristotle says that while "the magnificent man is liberal, the liberal man is not necessarily magnificent". The immoderate vices in this case would be concerning "making a great display on the wrong occasions and in the wrong way". The extremes to be avoided in order to achieve this virtue are paltriness Rackham or chintziness Sachs on the one hand and tastelessness or vulgarity on the other.

Aristotle reminds us here that he has already said that moral dispositions hexeis are caused by the activities energeia we perform, meaning that a magnificent person's virtue can be seen from the way he chooses the correct magnificent acts at the right times. The aim of magnificence, like any virtue, is beautiful action, not for the magnificent man himself but on public things, such that even his private gifts have some resemblance to votive offerings. Because he is aiming at a spectacle, a person with this virtue will not be focusing on doing things cheaply, which would be petty, and he or she may well overspend. So as with liberality, Aristotle sees a potential conflict between some virtues, and being good with money.

But he does say that magnificence requires spending according to means, at least in the sense that poor man can not be magnificent. The vices of paltriness and vulgar chintziness "do not bring serious discredit, since they are not injurious to others, nor are they excessively unseemly". Book IV, Chapter 3. Magnanimity is a latinization of the original Greek used here, which was megalopsuchia , which means greatness of soul. Although the word magnanimity has a traditional connection to Aristotelian philosophy, it also has its own tradition in English, which now causes some confusion.

In particular, the term implied not just greatness, but a person who thought of themselves worthy of great things, or in other words a sort of pride. Michael Davis translates it as pride. He says that "not everybody who claims more than he deserves is vain" and indeed "most small-souled of all would seem to be the man who claims less than he deserves when his deserts are great". Being vain, or being small-souled, are the two extremes that fail to achieve the mean of the virtue of magnanimity.

To have the virtue of greatness of soul, and be worthy of what is greatest, one must be good in a true sense, and possess what is great in all virtues. As Sachs points out: "Greatness of soul is the first of four virtues that Aristotle will find to require the presence of all the virtues of character. Aristotle views magnanimity as "a sort of adornment of the moral virtues; for it makes them greater, and it does not arise without them. Aristotle also focuses on the question of what the greatest things one may be worthy of.

At first he says this is spoken of in terms of external goods, but he observes that the greatest of these must be honor , because this is what we assign to gods, and this is what people of the highest standing aim at. But he qualifies this by saying that actually great souled people will hold themselves moderately toward every type of good or bad fortune, even honor. It is being good, and being worthy of honor that is more important. The disdain of a great souled person towards all kinds of non-human good things can make great souled people seem arrogant, like an un-deserving vain person.

Strauss describes the Bible as rejecting the concept of a gentleman, and that this displays a different approach to the problem of divine law in Greek and Biblical civilization. Aristotle lists some typical characteristics of great souled people: [72]. Book IV, Chapter 4. This latter virtue is a kind of correct respect for honor, which Aristotle had no Greek word for, but which he said is between being ambitious philotimos honor-loving and unambitious aphilotimos not honor-loving with respect to honor.

It could include a noble and manly person with appropriate ambition, or a less ambitious person who is moderate and temperate. In other words, Aristotle makes it clear that he does not think being more philotimos than average is necessarily inappropriate. To have the correct balance in this virtue means pursuing the right types of honor from the right types of source of honor. In contrast, the ambitious man would get this balance wrong by seeking excess honor from the inappropriate sources, and the unambitious man would not desire appropriately to be honored for noble reasons. Book IV Chapter 5. In contrast, an excessive tendency or vice concerning anger would be irascibility or quickness to anger.

Such a person would be unfair in responses, angry at wrong people, and so on. The deficient vice would be found in people who won't defend themselves. They would lack spirit, and be considered foolish and servile. Aristotle does not deny anger a place in the behavior of a good person, but says it should be "on the right grounds and against the right persons, and also in the right manner and at the right moment and for the right length of time". So in this case as with several others several distinct types of excessive vice possible. One of the worst types amongst these is the type that remains angry for too long. According to Aristotle, the virtue with regards to anger would not be led by the emotions pathoi , but by reason logos.

So according to Aristotle, anger can be virtuous and rational in the right circumstances, and he even says that a small amount of excess is not something worth blaming either, and might even be praised as manly and fit for command. The person with this virtue will however tend to err on the side of forgiveness rather than anger, and the person with a deficiency in this virtue, despite seeming foolish and servile, will be closer to the virtue than someone who gets angry too easily. Book IV Chapter 6. The obsequious areskos person is over-concerned with the pain they cause others, backing down too easily, even when it is dishonorable or harmful to do so, while a surly duskolos or quarrelsome dusteris person objects to everything and does not care what pain they cause others, never compromising.

Once again Aristotle says he has no specific Greek word to give to the correct virtuous mean that avoids the vices, but says it resembles friendship philia. The difference is that this friendly virtue concerns behavior towards friends and strangers alike, and does not involve the special emotional bond that friends have. Apart from the vice of obsequiousness, there is also flattery, which is the third vice whereby someone acts in an obsequious way to try to gain some advantage to themselves. Book IV Chapter 7. The reason is that Aristotle describes two kinds of untruthful pretense vices—one that exaggerates things, boastfulness, and one that under-states things.

Aristotle points out that this is a very specific realm of honesty, that which concerns oneself. Other types of dishonesty could involve other virtues and vices, such as justice and injustice. This is a similar subject to the last one discussed concerning surliness and obsequiousness, in that it concerns how to interact socially in a community. In that discussion, the question was how much to compromise with others if it would be painful, harmful or dishonorable. Now the discussion turns to how frank one should be concerning one's own qualities. And just as in the previous case concerning flattery, vices that go too far or not far enough might be part of one's character, or they might be performed as if they were in character, with some ulterior motive.

Such dishonesty could involve vices of dishonesty other than boastfulness or self-deprecation of course, but the lover of truth, who is truthful even when nothing depends on it, will be praised and expected to avoid being dishonest when it is most disgraceful. Once again, Aristotle said that he had no convenient Greek word to give to the virtuous and honest mean in this case, but a person who boasts claims qualities inappropriately, while a person who self-deprecates excessively makes no claim to qualities they have, or even disparages himself.

Aristotle therefore names the virtuous man as a person who claims the good qualities he has without exaggeration or understatement. As in many of these examples, Aristotle says the excess boastfulness is more blameworthy than the deficiency being self-disparaging. Unlike the treatment of flattery, described simply as a vice, Aristotle describes ways in which a person might be relatively blameless if they were occasionally dishonest about their own qualities, as long as this does not become a fixed disposition to boast.

Specifically, according to Aristotle boasting would not be very much blamed if the aim is honor or glory, but it would be blameworthy if the aim is money. Parts of this section are remarkable because of the implications for the practice of philosophy. At one point Aristotle says that examples of areas where dishonest boasting for gain might go undetected, and be very blameworthy, would be prophecy, philosophy, or medicine, all of which have both pretense and bragging. This appears to be a criticism of contemporary sophists.

Aristotle even specifically mentions Socrates as an example, but at the same time mentions continuing the theme that the less excessive vice is often less blameworthy. Book IV Chapter 8. The subject matter of this discussion is a virtue of being witty, charming and tactful, and generally saying the right things when speaking playfully, at our leisure, which Aristotle says is a necessary part of life.

It is hard to set fixed rules about what is funny and what is appropriate, so a person with this virtue will tend to be like a lawmaker making suitable laws for themselves. The sense of shame is not a virtue, but more like a feeling than a stable character trait hexis. It is a fear, and it is only fitting in the young, who live by feeling, but are held back by the feeling of shame.

We would not praise older people for such a sense of shame according to Aristotle, since shame should concern acts done voluntarily, and a decent person would not voluntarily do something shameful. Aristotle mentions here that self-restraint is also not a virtue, but refers us to a later part of the book Book VII for discussion of this. Leo Strauss notes that this approach, as well as Aristotle's discussion of magnanimity above , are in contrast to the approach of the Bible. Burger points out that although the chapter nominally follows the same path methodos as previous chapters "it is far from obvious how justice is to be understood as a disposition in relation to a passion: the proposed candidate, greed pleonexia , would seem to refer, rather, to the vice of injustice and the single opposite of the virtue.

Indeed, as Burger point out, the approach is also quite different from previous chapters in the way it categorizes in terms of general principles, rather than building up from commonly accepted opinions. As Aristotle points out, his approach is partly because people mean so many different things when they use the word justice. The primary division he observes in what kind of person would be called just is that, on the one hand, it could mean "law abiding" or lawful nominos , and on the other, it could mean equitable or fair isos. Aristotle points out that, "Whatever is unfair is lawless, but not everything lawless is unfair," and, "It would seem that to be a good man is not in every case the same thing as to be a good citizen.

Justice in such a simple and complete and effective sense would according to Aristotle be the same as having a complete ethical virtue, a perfection of character, because this would be someone who is not just virtuous, but also willing and able to put virtue to use amongst their friends and in their community. According to Aristotle, "there are many who can practise virtue in their own private affairs but cannot do so in their relations with another".

Aristotle, however, says that—apart from the complete virtue that would encompass not only all types of justice, but all types of excellence of character—there is a partial virtue that gets called justice, which is clearly distinct from other character flaws. Cowardice for example, might specifically cause a soldier to throw away his shield and run. However, not everyone who runs from a battle does so from cowardice. Often, Aristotle observes, these acts are caused by over-reaching or greed pleonexia and are ascribed to injustice. Unlike the virtues discussed so far, an unjust person does not necessarily desire what is bad for himself or herself as an individual, nor does he or she even necessarily desire too much of things, if too much would be bad for him or her.

Such "particular injustice" is always greed aimed at particular good things such as honor or money or security. To understand how justice aims at what is good, it is necessary to look beyond particular good or bad things we might want or not want a share of as individuals, and this includes considering the viewpoint of a community the subject of Aristotle's Politics. Alone of the virtues, says Aristotle, justice looks like "someone else's good", an argument also confronted by Plato in his Republic.

Particular justice is however the subject of this book, and it has already been divided into the lawful and the fair, which are two different aspects of universal justice or complete virtue. Concerning areas where being law-abiding might not be the same as being fair, Aristotle says that this should be discussed under the heading of Politics. The first part relates to members of a community in which it is possible for one person to have more or less of a good than another person. The second part of particular justice deals with rectification in transactions and this part is itself divided into two parts: voluntary and involuntary, and the involuntary are divided further into furtive and violent divisions.

In trying to describe justice as a mean, as with the other ethical virtues, Aristotle says that justice involves "at least four terms, namely, two persons for whom it is just and two shares which are just. But in many cases, how to judge what is a mean is not clear, because as Aristotle points out, "if the persons are not equal, they will not have equal shares; it is when equals possess or are allotted unequal shares, or persons not equal equal shares, that quarrels and complaints arise.

What is just in distribution must also take into account some sort of worth. The parties involved will be different concerning what they deserve, and the importance of this is a key difference between distributive justice and rectificatory justice because distribution can only take place among equals. Aristotle does not state how to decide who deserves more, implying that this depends on the principles accepted in each type of community, but rather he states it is some sort of proportion in which the just is an intermediate between all four elements 2 for the goods and 2 for the people. A final point that Aristotle makes in his discussion of distributive justice is that when two evils must be distributed, the lesser of the evils is the more choice worthy and as such is the greater good b The second part of particular justice is rectificatory and it consists of the voluntary and involuntary.

This sort of justice deals with transactions between people who are not equals and looks only at the harm or suffering caused to an individual. This is a sort of blind justice since it treats both parties as if they were equal regardless of their actual worth: "It makes no difference whether a good man has defrauded a bad man or a bad one a good one". Once again trying to describe justice as a mean, he says that "men require a judge to be a middle term or medium—indeed in some places judges are called mediators—, for they think that if they get the mean they will get what is just. Thus the just is a sort of mean, inasmuch as the judge is a medium between the litigants". To restore both parties to equality, a judge must take the amount that is greater than the equal that the offender possesses and give that part to the victim so that both have no more and no less than the equal.

This rule should be applied to rectify both voluntary and involuntary transactions. Finally, Aristotle turns to the idea that reciprocity "an eye for an eye " is justice, an idea he associates with the Pythagoreans. For example, it could have been done out of passion or ignorance, and this makes a critical difference when it comes to determining what is the just reaction. This in turn returns Aristotle to mention the fact that laws are not normally exactly the same as what is just: "Political Justice is of two kinds, one natural, the other conventional. Some people commit crimes by accident or due to vices other than greed or injustice. Indeed, in Book I Aristotle set out his justification for beginning with particulars and building up to the highest things.

Character virtues apart from justice perhaps were already discussed in an approximate way, as like achieving a middle point between two extreme options, but this now raises the question of how we know and recognize the things we aim at or avoid. Recognizing the mean means recognizing the correct boundary-marker horos which defines the frontier of the mean. And so practical ethics, having a good character, requires knowledge. Now he will discuss the other type: that of thought dianoia. Aristotle states that if recognition depends upon likeness and kinship between the things being recognized and the parts of the soul doing the recognizing, then the soul grows naturally into two parts, specialised in these two types of cause.

Aristotle enumerates five types of hexis stable dispositions that the soul can have, and which can disclose truth: [91]. In the last chapters of this book 12 and 13 Aristotle compares the importance of practical wisdom phronesis and wisdom sophia. Although Aristotle describes sophia as more serious than practical judgement, because it is concerned with higher things, he mentions the earlier philosophers, Anaxagoras and Thales , as examples proving that one can be wise, having both knowledge and intellect, and yet devoid of practical judgement. The dependency of sophia upon phronesis is described as being like the dependency of health upon medical knowledge. Wisdom is aimed at for its own sake, like health, being a component of that most complete virtue that makes happiness.

Aristotle closes by arguing that in any case, when one considers the virtues in their highest form, they would all exist together. This book is the last of three books that are identical in both the Nicomachean Ethics and the Eudemian Ethics. It is Book VI in the latter. It extends previously developed discussions, especially from the end of Book II, in relation to vice akolasia and the virtue of sophrosune. According to Aristotle, akrasia and self-restraint, are not to "be conceived as identical with Virtue and Vice, nor yet as different in kind from them".

Furthermore, a truly temperate person would not even have bad desires to restrain. Aristotle reviews various opinions held about self-mastery, most importantly one he associates with Socrates. According to Aristotle, Socrates argued that all unrestrained behavior must be a result of ignorance, whereas it is commonly thought that the unrestrained person does things that they know to be evil, putting aside their own calculations and knowledge under the influence of passion. Aristotle begins by suggesting Socrates must be wrong, but comes to conclude at the end of Chapter 3 that "what Socrates was looking for turns out to be the case".

People in such a state may sound like they have knowledge, like an actor or student reciting a lesson can. In chapter 4 Aristotle specifies that when we call someone unrestrained, it is in cases just in the cases where we say someone has the vice of akolasia in Book II where bodily pleasure or pain, such as those associated with food and sex , has caused someone to act in a shameful way against their own choice and reason.

Other types of failure to master oneself are akrasia only in a qualified sense, for example akrasia "in anger" or "in the pursuit of honor". These he discusses next, under tendencies that are neither vice nor akrasia , but more animal-like. Aristotle makes a nature and nurture distinction between different causes of bestial behavior he says occurs "in some cases from natural disposition, and in others from habit, as with those who have been abused from childhood.

For Aristotle, akrasia , "unrestraint", is distinct from animal-like behavior because it is specific to humans and involves conscious rational thinking about what to do, even though the conclusions of this thinking are not put into practice. When someone behaves in a purely animal-like way, then for better or worse they are not acting based upon any conscious choice.

Returning to the question of anger or spiritedness thumos then, Aristotle distinguishes it from desires because he says it listens to reason, but often hears wrong, like a hasty servant or a guard dog. He contrasts this with desire, which he says does not obey reason, although it is frequently responsible for the weaving of unjust plots. So there are two ways that people lose mastery of their own actions and do not act according to their own deliberations.

One is through excitability, where a person does not wait for reason but follows the imagination, often having not been prepared for events. The other, worse and less curable case, is that of a weak person who has thought things through, but fails to do as deliberated because they are carried in another direction by a passion. Such people do not even know they are wrong, and feel no regrets. These are even less curable. Finally Aristotle addresses a few questions raised earlier, on the basis of what he has explained:. Aristotle discusses pleasure in two separate parts of the Nicomachean Ethics book 7 chapters and book 10 chapters Plato had discussed similar themes in several dialogues, including the Republic and the Philebus and Gorgias.

In chapter 11 Aristotle goes through some of the things said about pleasure and particularly why it might be bad. But in chapter 12 he says that none of these things show that pleasure is not good, nor even the best thing. First, what is good or bad need not be good or bad simply, but can be good or bad for a certain person at a certain time. Secondly, according to Aristotle's way of analyzing causation, a good or bad thing can either be an activity "being at work", energeia , or else a stable disposition hexis.

The pleasures from being restored into a natural hexis are accidental and not natural, for example the temporary pleasure that can come from a bitter taste. Things that are pleasant by nature are activities that are pleasant in themselves and involve no pain or desire. The example Aristotle gives of this is contemplation. Thirdly, such pleasures are ways of being at work, ends themselves, not just a process of coming into being aimed at some higher end.

Even if a temperate person avoids excesses of some pleasures, they still have pleasures. Chapter 13 starts from pain, saying it is clearly bad, either in a simple sense or as an impediment to things. He argues that this makes it clear that pleasure is good. He rejects the argument of Speusippus that pleasure and pain are only different in degree because this would still not make pleasure, bad, nor stop it, or at least some pleasure, even from being the best thing. Aristotle focuses from this on to the idea that pleasure is unimpeded, and that while it would make a certain sense for happiness eudaimonia to be a being at work that is unimpeded in some way, being impeded can hardly be good.

Aristotle appeals to popular opinion that pleasure of some type is what people aim at, and suggests that bodily pleasure, while it might be the most obvious type of pleasure, is not the only type of pleasure. He points out that if pleasure is not good then a happy person will not have a more pleasant life than another, and would have no reason to avoid pain. Chapter 14 first points out that any level of pain is bad, while concerning pleasure it is only excessive bodily pleasures that are bad. Finally, he asks why people are so attracted to bodily pleasures.

Apart from natural depravities and cases where a bodily pleasure comes from being restored to health Aristotle asserts a more complex metaphysical reason, which is that for humans change is sweet, but only because of some badness in us, which is that part of every human has a perishable nature, and "a nature that needs change [.. God, in contrast, "enjoys a single simple pleasure perpetually". Book II Chapter 6 discussed a virtue like friendship. Aristotle now says that friendship philia itself is a virtue, or involves virtue. It is not only important for living well, as a means, but is also a noble or beautiful end in itself that receives praise in its own right, and being a good friend is sometimes thought to be linked to being a good person.

The treatment of friendship in the Nicomachean Ethics is longer than that of any other topic, and comes just before the conclusion of the whole inquiry. Books VIII and IX are continuous, but the break makes the first book focus on friendship as a small version of the political community, in which a bond stronger than justice holds people together, while the second treats it as an expansion of the self, through which all one's powers can approach their highest development.

Friendship thus provides a bridge between the virtues of character and those of intellect. Aristotle says speculations for example about whether love comes from attractions between like things are not germane to this discussion, and he divides aims of friendships or love into three types—each giving feelings of good will that go in two directions:. Two are inferior to the other because of the motive: friendships of utility and pleasure do not regard friends as people, but for what they can give in return. Friendships of utility are relationships formed without regard to the other person at all. With these friendships are classed family ties of hospitality with foreigners, types of friendships Aristotle associates with older people.

Such friends are often not very interested in being together, and the relationships are easily broken off when they cease to be useful. At the next level, friendships of pleasure are based on fleeting emotions and are associated with young people. However, while such friends do like to be together, such friendships also end easily whenever people no longer enjoy the shared activity, or can no longer participate in it together. Friendships based upon what is good are the perfect form of friendship, where both friends enjoy each other's virtue. As long as both friends keep similarly virtuous characters, the relationship will endure and be pleasant and useful and good for both parties, since the motive behind it is care for the friend themselves, and not something else.

Such relationships are rare, because good people are rare, and bad people do not take pleasure in each other. Aristotle suggests that although the word friend is used in these different ways, it is perhaps best to say that friendships of pleasure and usefulness are only analogous to real friendships. It is sometimes possible that at least in the case of people who are friends for pleasure familiarity will lead to a better type of friendship, as the friends learn to admire each other's characters.

Book IX and the last sections of Book VIII turn to the question of how friends and partners generally should reward each other and treat each other, whether it be in money or honor or pleasure. This can sometimes be complex because parties may not be equals. Aristotle notes that the type of friendship most likely to be hurt by complaints of unfairness is that of utility and reminds that "the objects and the personal relationships with which friendship is concerned appear [ Pleasure is discussed throughout the whole Ethics , but is given a final more focused and theoretical treatment in Book X.

Aristotle starts by questioning the rule of thumb accepted in the more approximate early sections, whereby people think pleasure should be avoided—if not because it is bad simply, then because people tend too much towards pleasure seeking. He argues that people's actions show that this is not really what they believe. He reviews some arguments of previous philosophers, including first Eudoxus and Plato, to argue that pleasure is clearly a good pursued for its own sake even if it is not The Good , or in other words that which all good things have in common.

It is more like seeing which is either happening in a complete way or not happening. For di Piacenza, who taught that the ideal smoothness of dance movement could only be attained by a balance of qualities, relied on Aristotelian philosophical concepts of movement, measure and memory to extol dance on moral grounds, as a virtue. A sense perception like sight is in perfect activity teleia energeia when it is in its best conditions and directed at the best objects.

But seeing, for example is a whole, as is the associated pleasure. Pleasure does not complete the seeing or thinking, but is an extra activity, just as a healthy person can have an extra good "bloom of well-being". This raises the question of why pleasure does not last, but seem to fade as if we get tired. Aristotle proposes as a solution to this that pleasure is pursued because of desire to live. Life is an activity energeia made up of many activities such as music, thinking and contemplation, and pleasure brings the above-mentioned extra completion to each of these, bringing fulfillment and making life worthy of choice. Aristotle says we can dismiss the question of whether we live for pleasure or choose pleasure for the sake of living, for the two activities seem incapable of being separated.

Different activities in life, the different sense perceptions, thinking, contemplating, bring different pleasures, and these pleasures make the activities grow, for example a flute player gets better at it as they also get more pleasure from it. But these pleasures and their associated activities also impede with each other just as a flute player cannot participate in an argument while playing. This raises the question of which pleasures are more to be pursued. Some pleasures are more beautiful and some are more base or corrupt. Aristotle ranks some of them as follows: [].

Aristotle also argues that each type of animal has pleasures appropriate to it, and in the same way there can be differences between people in what pleasures are most suitable to them. Aristotle proposes that it would be most beautiful to say that the person of serious moral stature is the appropriate standard, with whatever things they enjoy being the things most pleasant. Turning to happiness then, the aim of the whole Ethics ; according to the original definition of Book I it is the activity or being-at-work chosen for its own sake by a morally serious and virtuous person. This raises the question of why play and bodily pleasures cannot be happiness, because for example tyrants sometimes choose such lifestyles.

But Aristotle compares tyrants to children, and argues that play and relaxation are best seen not as ends in themselves, but as activities for the sake of more serious living. Any random person can enjoy bodily pleasures, including a slave, and no one would want to be a slave. Aristotle says that if perfect happiness is activity in accordance with the highest virtue, then this highest virtue must be the virtue of the highest part, and Aristotle says this must be the intellect nous "or whatever else it be that is thought to rule and lead us by nature, and to have cognizance of what is noble and divine". This highest activity, Aristotle says, must be contemplation or speculative thinking energeia This is also the most sustainable, pleasant, self-sufficient activity; something aimed at for its own sake.

In contrast to politics and warfare it does not involve doing things we'd rather not do, but rather something we do at our leisure. However, Aristotle says this aim is not strictly human, and that to achieve it means to live in accordance not with our mortal thoughts but with something immortal and divine which is within humans. According to Aristotle, contemplation is the only type of happy activity it would not be ridiculous to imagine the gods having. The intellect is indeed each person's true self, and this type of happiness would be the happiness most suited to humans, with both happiness eudaimonia and the intellect nous being things other animals do not have.

Aristotle also claims that compared to other virtues, contemplation requires the least in terms of possessions and allows the most self-reliance, "though it is true that, being a man and living in the society of others, he chooses to engage in virtuous action, and so will need external goods to carry on his life as a human being". Finally, Aristotle repeats that the discussion of the Ethics has not reached its aim if it has no effect in practice.

Theories are not enough. However, the practice of virtue requires good education and habituation from an early age in the community. Young people otherwise do not ever get to experience the highest forms of pleasure and are distracted by the easiest ones. While parents often attempt to do this, it is critical that there are also good laws in the community. But concerning this need for good laws and education Aristotle says that there has always been a problem, which he is now seeking to address: unlike in the case of medical science, theoreticians of happiness and teachers of virtue such as sophists never have practical experience themselves, whereas good parents and lawmakers have never theorized and developed a scientific approach to analyzing what the best laws are.

Furthermore, very few lawmakers, perhaps only the Spartans , have made education the focus of law making, as they should. Education needs to be more like medicine, with both practice and theory, and this requires a new approach to studying politics. Such study should, he says, even help in communities where the laws are not good and the parents need to try to create the right habits in young people themselves without the right help from lawmakers. Aristotle closes the Nicomachean Ethics therefore by announcing a programme of study in politics, including the collecting of studies of different constitutions, and the results of this programme are generally assumed to be contained in the work that exists today and is known as the Politics.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Literary work by Aristotle. This article's tone or style may not reflect the encyclopedic tone used on Wikipedia. See Wikipedia's guide to writing better articles for suggestions. September Learn how and when to remove this template message. Bartlett, Robert C. Nicomachean Ethics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN Translation, with Interpretive Essay, Notes, Glossary. Beresford, Adam. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Penguin Classics. Translation, with Introduction and Notes.

Broadie, Sarah; Rowe, Christopher Oxford: Oxford University Press. Crisp, Roger Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics. Cambridge University Press. Irwin, Terence Hackett Publishing Company. Rackham, H. Harvard University Press. Ross, David ISBN X. Re-issued , revised by J. Ackrill and J. Sachs, Joe Focus Publishing. Thomson, J. Re-issued , revised by Hugh Tredennick. Chase , Drummond P. The Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle.

London: Everyman's Library. Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics: An Introduction. Oxon: Routledge. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers. See below. Zalta ed. Translation by Sachs. Translation above by Sachs. Translation by Rackham. One of his most influential works is the Nicomachean Ethics, where he puts forward a theory of happiness that is still pertinent today. John Stuart Mill was a British philosopher who has had a considerable influence on contemporary moral and political philosophy. Both Aristotle and John Stuart Mill develop their ethical theories around the search for the highest good. They both agree on happiness being the highest good.

Socrates ' conciliatory sentiment shows his profound learning in logic pretty much as the Delphic Oracle expressed "there is no individual living savvier than Socrates". The best case of Socrates trial and passing approves the cozy relationship between his character and reasoning. He trusted that logic ought to triumph in pragmatic results for the more prominent prosperity of society. Socrates endeavored to set up a moral framework in view of human reason as opposed to philosophical instructing. He called attention to that human decision was driven by the longing for satisfaction, and unbounded knowledge originates from knowing oneself.

Finding the Good Life in Symposium There are a wide range of translations of what the great life genuinely is. Individualists trust that the great life is satisfying oneself, while utilitarians trust that the great life is representing the benefit of whatever is left of society. Rationalists, as well, have their own understanding. Plato suggests the logician's great life when he utilizes the expression "my most noteworthy delight. Choosing Happiness: The Epicurean Formula for a Good Life There is often great debate as to what can be considered the good life and how one can achieve it. The first part of a good life is happiness.

Happiness relies on upon us. More than any other individual, Aristotle reveres happiness as a focal reason for human life and a goal in itself. Thus he commits more space to the theme of happiness than any scholar before the advanced period. Living amid the same period as Mencius, however on the opposite side of the world, he reaches some comparative determinations. That is, happiness relies on upon the development of virtue; however his virtues are to some degree more individualistic than the basically social virtues of the Confucians. Essays Essays FlashCards. Browse Essays. Sign in. Essay Sample Check Writing Quality. Show More. Related Documents Herodotus Definition Of Happiness Essay Herodotus Aristotle notices this and says those who work for the betterment of the whole nation is great.

Read More. Words: - Pages: 4. Socrates: The Life Of The Aristocratic Soul He concludes that the aristocratic soul would be the best life because it relies on the part of the soul that would lead to the truth. Words: - Pages: 7. Words: - Pages: 9.

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