Nicomachean Ethics

Nicomachean Ethics

Overview
The Nicomachean Ethics n
is the name normally given to Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

's best known work on ethics
Ethics
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

. The English version of the title derives from Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 Ἠθικὰ Νικομάχεια, transliterated Ethika Nikomacheia, which is sometimes also given in the genitive form as Ἠθικῶν Νικομαχείων, Ethikōn Nikomacheiōn. The Latin, which is also commonly used, is Ēthica Nicomachēa.

The work, which plays a pre-eminent role in defining Aristotelian ethics
Aristotelian ethics
Ethics as a subject begins with the works of Aristotle. In its original form, this subject is concerned with the question of virtue of character , or in other words having excellent and well-chosen habits. The acquisition of an excellent character is in turn aimed at living well and eudaimonia, a...

, consists of ten books, originally separate scrolls, and is understood to be based on notes from his lectures at the Lyceum
Lyceum
The lyceum is a category of educational institution defined within the education system of many countries, mainly in Europe. The definition varies between countries; usually it is a type of secondary school.-History:...

, which were either edited by or dedicated to Aristotle's son, Nicomachus
Nicomachus (son of Aristotle)
Nicomachus , lived c. 325 BC, was the son of Aristotle.The Suda states that he was from Stageira, a philosopher, a pupil of Theophrastus, and, according to Aristippus, his lover. He may have written a commentary on his father's lectures in physics...

.

The theme of the work is the Socratic question which had previously been explored in Plato's works, of how men should best live.
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Encyclopedia
The Nicomachean Ethics n
is the name normally given to Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

's best known work on ethics
Ethics
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

. The English version of the title derives from Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 Ἠθικὰ Νικομάχεια, transliterated Ethika Nikomacheia, which is sometimes also given in the genitive form as Ἠθικῶν Νικομαχείων, Ethikōn Nikomacheiōn. The Latin, which is also commonly used, is Ēthica Nicomachēa.

The work, which plays a pre-eminent role in defining Aristotelian ethics
Aristotelian ethics
Ethics as a subject begins with the works of Aristotle. In its original form, this subject is concerned with the question of virtue of character , or in other words having excellent and well-chosen habits. The acquisition of an excellent character is in turn aimed at living well and eudaimonia, a...

, consists of ten books, originally separate scrolls, and is understood to be based on notes from his lectures at the Lyceum
Lyceum
The lyceum is a category of educational institution defined within the education system of many countries, mainly in Europe. The definition varies between countries; usually it is a type of secondary school.-History:...

, which were either edited by or dedicated to Aristotle's son, Nicomachus
Nicomachus (son of Aristotle)
Nicomachus , lived c. 325 BC, was the son of Aristotle.The Suda states that he was from Stageira, a philosopher, a pupil of Theophrastus, and, according to Aristippus, his lover. He may have written a commentary on his father's lectures in physics...

.

The theme of the work is the Socratic question which had previously been explored in Plato's works, of how men should best live. In his Metaphysics
Metaphysics (Aristotle)
Metaphysics is one of the principal works of Aristotle and the first major work of the branch of philosophy with the same name. The principal subject is "being qua being", or being understood as being. It examines what can be asserted about anything that exists just because of its existence and...

, Aristotle described how Socrates
Socrates
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

 turned philosophy to human questions, whereas Pre-Socratic philosophy
Pre-Socratic philosophy
Pre-Socratic philosophy is Greek philosophy before Socrates . In Classical antiquity, the Presocratic philosophers were called physiologoi...

 had only been theoretical. Ethics, as now separated out for discussion by Aristotle, is practical rather than theoretical
Theory
The English word theory was derived from a technical term in Ancient Greek philosophy. The word theoria, , meant "a looking at, viewing, beholding", and referring to contemplation or speculation, as opposed to action...

, in the original Aristotelian senses of these terms. In other words it is not only a contemplation about good living, but also aims to create good living. It is therefore connected to Aristotle's other practical work, Politics
Politics (Aristotle)
Aristotle's Politics is a work of political philosophy. The end of the Nicomachean Ethics declared that the inquiry into ethics necessarily follows into politics, and the two works are frequently considered to be parts of a larger treatise, or perhaps connected lectures, dealing with the...

, which similarly aims at people becoming good. However ethics is about how individuals should best live, while the study of politics is from the perspective of a law-giver, looking at the good of a whole community.

The Nicomachean Ethics is widely considered one of the most important historical philosophical works, and had an important impact upon the European Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, becoming one of the core works of medieval philosophy
Medieval philosophy
Medieval philosophy is the philosophy in the era now known as medieval or the Middle Ages, the period roughly extending from the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century AD to the Renaissance in the sixteenth century...

. It therefore indirectly became critical in the development of all modern philosophy
Modern philosophy
Modern philosophy is a type of philosophy that originated in Western Europe in the 17th century, and is now common worldwide. It is not a specific doctrine or school , although there are certain assumptions common to much of it, which helps to distinguish it from earlier philosophy.The 17th and...

 as well as European law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 and theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

. Many parts of the Nicomachean Ethics are well-known in their own right, within different fields. In the Middle Ages, a synthesis between Aristotelian ethics and Christian theology
Christian theology
- Divisions of Christian theology :There are many methods of categorizing different approaches to Christian theology. For a historical analysis, see the main article on the History of Christian theology.- Sub-disciplines :...

, became widespread, especially in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. While various philosophers had influenced Christendom since its earliest times, in Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

 Aristotle became "the Philosopher" under the influence of the Spanish
Spanish people
The Spanish are citizens of the Kingdom of Spain. Within Spain, there are also a number of vigorous nationalisms and regionalisms, reflecting the country's complex history....

 Moslem philosopher Averroes
Averroes
' , better known just as Ibn Rushd , and in European literature as Averroes , was a Muslim polymath; a master of Aristotelian philosophy, Islamic philosophy, Islamic theology, Maliki law and jurisprudence, logic, psychology, politics, Arabic music theory, and the sciences of medicine, astronomy,...

. The most important version of this synthesis was that of Thomas of Aquinas. Other more "Averroist
Averroism
Averroism is the term applied to either of two philosophical trends among scholastics in the late 13th century: the Arab philosopher Averroës or Ibn Rushd's interpretations of Aristotle and his reconciliation of Aristotelianism with Islamic faith; and the application of these ideas in the Latin...

" Aristotelians such as Marsilius of Padua
Marsilius of Padua
Marsilius of Padua Marsilius of Padua Marsilius of Padua (Italian Marsilio or Marsiglio da Padova; (circa 1275 – circa 1342) was an Italian scholar, trained in medicine who practiced a variety of professions. He was also an important 14th century political figure...

 were controversial but also very important. A critical period in the history of this work's influence is at the end of the Middle Ages, and beginning of modernity
Modernity
Modernity typically refers to a post-traditional, post-medieval historical period, one marked by the move from feudalism toward capitalism, industrialization, secularization, rationalization, the nation-state and its constituent institutions and forms of surveillance...

, when several authors such as Niccolò Machiavelli
Niccolò Machiavelli
Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was an Italian historian, philosopher, humanist, and writer based in Florence during the Renaissance. He is one of the main founders of modern political science. He was a diplomat, political philosopher, playwright, and a civil servant of the Florentine Republic...

, Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Albans, KC was an English philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist, author and pioneer of the scientific method. He served both as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England...

 and Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury , in some older texts Thomas Hobbs of Malmsbury, was an English philosopher, best known today for his work on political philosophy...

, argued forcefully and largely successfully that the medieval Aristotelian tradition in practical thinking had become a great impediment to practical political thinking in their time. However in more recent generations, Aristotle's original works (if not that of his medieval followers) have once again become an important source. More recent authors influenced by this work include Alasdair MacIntyre
Alasdair MacIntyre
Alasdair Chalmers MacIntyre is a British philosopher primarily known for his contribution to moral and political philosophy but known also for his work in history of philosophy and theology...

, Hans-Georg Gadamer
Hans-Georg Gadamer
Hans-Georg Gadamer was a German philosopher of the continental tradition, best known for his 1960 magnum opus, Truth and Method .-Life:...

 and Martha Nussbaum
Martha Nussbaum
Martha Nussbaum , is an American philosopher with a particular interest in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, political philosophy and ethics....

.

Abbreviations often used


The Nicomachean Ethics is very often abbreviated “NE”, or “EN”, and books and chapters are generally referred to by Roman and Arabic numerals, respectively, along with corresponding Bekker numbers. (Thus, “NE II.2, 1103b1” means “Nicomachean Ethics, book II, chapter 2, Bekker page 1103, Bekker column b, line number 1”). In many ways this work parallels the similar Eudemian Ethics
Eudemian Ethics
The Eudemian Ethics is a work of philosophy by Aristotle. Its primary focus is on Ethics, making it one of the primary sources available for study of Aristotelian Ethics. It is named for Eudemus of Rhodes, a pupil of Aristotle who may also have had a hand in editing the final work...

, which has only eight books, and the two works can be fruitfully compared. Books V, VI, and VII of the Nicomachean Ethics are identical to Books IV, V, and VI of the Eudemian Ethics. Opinions about the relationship between the two works, for example which was written first, and which originally contained the three common books, are divided.

Synopsis


Aristotle argues that the correct approach in studying such controversial subjects as Ethics
Ethics
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

 or Politics
Politics
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

, which involve discussing what is true about what is beautiful
Beauty
Beauty is a characteristic of a person, animal, place, object, or idea that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure, meaning, or satisfaction. Beauty is studied as part of aesthetics, sociology, social psychology, and culture...

 or just
Justice
Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, or equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics; justice is the act of being just and/or fair.-Concept of justice:...

, is to start with what would be roughly agreed to be true by people of good up-bringing and experience in life, and to work from there to a higher understanding.

Taking this approach, Aristotle begins by saying that the highest good for humans, the highest aim of all human practical thinking, is eudaimonia
Eudaimonia
Eudaimonia or eudaemonia , sometimes Anglicized as eudemonia , is a Greek word commonly translated as happiness or welfare; however, "human flourishing" has been proposed as a more accurate translation...

, a Greek word often translated as well-being or happiness
Happiness
Happiness is a mental state of well-being characterized by positive emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. A variety of biological, psychological, religious, and philosophical approaches have striven to define happiness and identify its sources....

. Aristotle in turn argues that happiness is properly understood as an on-going and stable dynamic, a way of being in action (energeia), specifically appropriate to the human "soul
Soul
A soul in certain spiritual, philosophical, and psychological traditions is the incorporeal essence of a person or living thing or object. Many philosophical and spiritual systems teach that humans have souls, and others teach that all living things and even inanimate objects have souls. The...

" (psuchē), at its most "excellent" or virtuous
Virtue
Virtue is moral excellence. A virtue is a positive trait or quality subjectively deemed to be morally excellent and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being....

 (virtue representing aretē
Arete
Areté is the term meaning "virtue" or "excellence", from Greek ἈρετήArete may also be used:*as a given name of persons or things:**Queen Arete , a character in Homer's Odyssey.***197 Arete, an asteroid....

in Greek). If there are several virtues the best and most complete or perfect of them will be the happiest one. An excellent human will be a person good at living life, who does it well and beautifully (kalos). Aristotle says that such a person would also be a serious (spoudaios) human being, in the same sense of "serious" that one contrasts harpists and serious harpists. He also asserts as part of this starting point that virtue for a human must involve reason
Reason
Reason is a term that refers to the capacity human beings have to make sense of things, to establish and verify facts, and to change or justify practices, institutions, and beliefs. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, ...

 in thought and speech (logos), as this is an aspect (an ergon, literally meaning a task or work) of human living.

From this starting point, Aristotle goes into discussion of what ethics, a term Aristotle helped develop, means. Aristotelian Ethics
Aristotelian ethics
Ethics as a subject begins with the works of Aristotle. In its original form, this subject is concerned with the question of virtue of character , or in other words having excellent and well-chosen habits. The acquisition of an excellent character is in turn aimed at living well and eudaimonia, a...

 is about what makes a virtuous character (ethikē aretē) possible, which is in turn necessary if happiness is to be possible. He describes a sequence of necessary steps in order to achieve this: righteous actions, often done under the influence of teachers, allow the development of the right habit
Habit
Habit or Habits may refer to:* Habit , an acquired pattern of behavior that often occurs automatically** Drug addiction is sometimes referred to as "having a drug habit"....

s, which in turn can allow the development of a good stable character
Moral character
Moral character or character is an evaluation of a particular individual's durable moral qualities. The concept of character can imply a variety of attributes including the existence or lack of virtues such as integrity, courage, fortitude, honesty, and loyalty, or of good behaviors or habits...

 in which the habits are voluntary, and this in turn gives a chance of achieving eudaimonia. Character is ēthos in Greek, related to modern words such as ethics
Ethics
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

, ethical and ethos
Ethos
Ethos is a Greek word meaning "character" that is used to describe the guiding beliefs or ideals that characterize a community, nation, or ideology. The Greeks also used this word to refer to the power of music to influence its hearer's emotions, behaviors, and even morals. Early Greek stories of...

. Aristotle does not however equate character with habit (ethos in Greek, with a short "e") because real character involves conscious choice, unlike habit. Instead of being habit, character is a hexis
Hexis
Hexis is a Greek word, important in the philosophy of Aristotle, and because of this it has become a traditional word of philosophy. It stems from a verb related to possession or "having", and Jacob Klein, for example, translates it as "possession". It is more typically translated in modern texts...

like health or knowledge, meaning it is a stable disposition which must be pursued and maintained with some effort. However, good habits are described as a precondition for good character. (Similarly, in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, the language of medieval European philosophy, the habits are mōrēs, giving us modern English words like "moral". Aristotle's term for virtue of character (ethikē aretē) is traditionally translated with the Latinate term "moral virtue". Latin virtus, is derived from the word vir meaning man, and became the traditional translation of Greek aretē.)

Aristotle then turns to examples, reviewing some of specific ways in which people are generally thought worthy of blame or praise. As he proceeds, he comes to describe how the highest types of praise, so the highest types of virtue, imply having all the virtues of character, and these in turn imply not just good character, but a kind of wisdom. These four virtues which he says require the possession of all the ethical virtues together are:
  • Being of "great soul" (magnanimity), the virtue where someone would be truly deserving of the highest praise and have a correct attitude towards the honor this may involve . This is the first case mentioned, and it is mentioned within the initial discussion of practical examples of virtues and vices at 1123b Book IV.
  • The type of justice or fairness of a good ruler in a good community is then given a similar description, during the special discussion of the virtue (or virtues) of justice
    Justice
    Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, or equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics; justice is the act of being just and/or fair.-Concept of justice:...

     at 1129b in Book V.
  • Phronesis
    Phronesis
    Phronēsis is an Ancient Greek word for wisdom or intelligence which is a common topic of discussion in philosophy. In Aristotelian Ethics, for example in the Nicomachean Ethics it is distinguished from other words for wisdom as the virtue of practical thought, and is usually translated "practical...

    or practical judgment as shown by good leaders is the next to be mentioned in this way at 1144b in Book VI.
  • The virtue of being a truly good friend is the final example at 1157a in Book VIII.


This style of building up a picture wherein it becomes clear that praiseworthy virtues in their highest form, even virtues like courage, seem to require intellectual virtue, is a theme of discussion which Aristotle chooses to associate in the Nicomachean Ethics with Socrates, and indeed it is an approach we find portrayed in the Socratic dialogues of Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

. Aristotle also does this himself, and though he professes to work differently from Plato by trying to start with what well-brought up men would agree with, by book VII, Aristotle eventually comes to argue that the highest of all human virtues is itself not practical, being contemplative wisdom (theōria
Theory
The English word theory was derived from a technical term in Ancient Greek philosophy. The word theoria, , meant "a looking at, viewing, beholding", and referring to contemplation or speculation, as opposed to action...

1177a). But achieving this supreme condition is inseparable from achieving all the virtues of character, or "moral virtues".

The way in which Aristotle sketches the highest good for man involving both a practical and not only a theoretical side, with the two sides necessary for each other, is also in the tradition of Socrates
Socrates
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

 and Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

, as opposed to pre-Socratic philosophy
Pre-Socratic philosophy
Pre-Socratic philosophy is Greek philosophy before Socrates . In Classical antiquity, the Presocratic philosophers were called physiologoi...

. As points out (p. 212):- "The Ethics does not end at its apparent peak, identifying perfect happiness with the life devoted to theōria
Theory
The English word theory was derived from a technical term in Ancient Greek philosophy. The word theoria, , meant "a looking at, viewing, beholding", and referring to contemplation or speculation, as opposed to action...

; instead it goes on to introduce the need for a study of legislation
Legislation
Legislation is law which has been promulgated by a legislature or other governing body, or the process of making it...

, on the grounds that it is not sufficient only to know about virtue, but one should try to put that knowledge to use." At the end of the book, according to Burger, the thoughtful reader is led to understand that "the end we are seeking is what we have been doing" while engaging with the Ethics (p. 215).

Book I


Book I attempts to both define the subject matter itself and justify the method which has been chosen (in chapters 3, 4, 6 and 7). As part of this, Aristotle considers common opinions along with the opinions of poets and philosophers.

Who should study ethics, and how


Concerning accuracy and whether ethics can be treated in an objective way, Aristotle points out that the "things that are beautiful and just, about which politics investigates, involve great disagreement and inconsistency, so that they are thought to belong only to convention and not to nature
Nature (philosophy)
Nature is a concept with two major sets of inter-related meanings, referring on the one hand to the things which are natural, or subject to the normal working of "laws of nature", or on the other hand to the essential properties and causes of those things to be what they naturally are, or in other...

". For this reason Aristotle claims it is important not to demand too much precision, like the demonstrations we would demand from a mathematician, but rather to treat the beautiful and the just as "things that are so for the most part". We can do this because people are good judges of what they are acquainted with, but this in turn implies that the young (in age or in character), being inexperienced, are not suitable for study of this type of political subject.

Chapter 6 contains a famous digression in which Aristotle appears to question his "friends" who "introduced the forms", what is now known as the Theory of Forms
Theory of Forms
Plato's theory of Forms or theory of Ideas asserts that non-material abstract forms , and not the material world of change known to us through sensation, possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality. When used in this sense, the word form is often capitalized...

, by which he is understood to be referring to Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 and his school, for while both "the truth and one's friends" are loved "it is a sacred thing to give the highest honor to the truth". The section is yet another explanation of why the Ethics will not start from first principles, which would mean starting out by trying to discuss "The Good" as a universal thing which all things called good have in common. Aristotle says that while all the different things called good do not seem to have the same name by chance, it is perhaps better to "let go for now" because this attempt at precision "would be more at home in another type of philosophic inquiry", and would not seem to be helpful for discussing how particular humans should act, in the same way that doctors do not need to philosophize over the definition of health in order to treat each case.

Defining Happiness and the aim of the Ethics


The main stream of discussion starts in Chapter 1, from an assertion that all making, investigating (every methodos, like the Ethics itself), all deliberate actions and choice, all aim at some good. Aristotle points to the fact that many aims are really only intermediate aims, and are desired only because they make the achievement of higher aims possible.

In chapter 2, Aristotle asserts that there is one highest aim, happiness, and it must be the same as politics should have, because what is best for an individual is less beautiful (kalos) and divine (theios) than what is good for a people (ethnos
Ethnos
Ethnos may refer to:*Ethnic group*Ethnos...

) or city (polis
Polis
Polis , plural poleis , literally means city in Greek. It could also mean citizenship and body of citizens. In modern historiography "polis" is normally used to indicate the ancient Greek city-states, like Classical Athens and its contemporaries, so polis is often translated as "city-state."The...

). The aim of political capacity should include the aim of all other pursuits, so that "this end would be the human good (tanthrōpinon agathon)" a term which contrasts with Plato's references to "the Good itself". He concludes what is now known as Chapter 2 of Book 1 by stating that ethics ("our investigation" or methodos) is "in a certain way political".

Chapter 3 goes on to elaborate on exactness in its relation to the sought conclusions of actions. It is determined that the degree of exactness required in concluding arguments made for actions is not universally the same, and he goes on to explain that all actions, as with the conclusions made of them, vary in exactness and indeed for this reason are not universally true and therefore not universally applicable. It is for this reason that the continuing conclusions made throughout the processes of these examinations should be considered only in "outline" and that the premises on which the conclusions are drawn are on actions that hold the conclusions only usually.

Chapter 4 states that while most would agree to call the highest aim of humanity happiness (eudaimonia), and also to equate this with both living well and doing things well, there is dispute between people, and between the majority (hoi polloi
Hoi polloi
Hoi polloi , an expression meaning "the many", or in the strictest sense, "the majority" in Greek, is used in English to denote "the masses" or "the people", usually in a derogatory sense. Synonyms for "hoi polloi" include ".....

) and "the wise". Chapter 5 distinguishes three distinct ways of life which different people associate with happiness.
  • The slavish way of pleasure, which is the way the majority of people think of happiness.
  • The refined and active way of politics, which aims at honor, honor itself implying the incompleteness of this way also, and the higher divinity of those who are wise and know and judge, and potentially honor, political people.
  • The way of contemplation.


Aristotle also mentions two other possibilities that he argues can be put aside:
  • Having virtue but being inactive, even suffering evils and misfortunes, which Aristotle says no one would consider unless they were defending a hypothesis. (As Sachs points out, this is indeed what Plato depicts Socrates
    Socrates
    Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

     doing in his Gorgias
    Gorgias (dialogue)
    Gorgias is a Socratic dialogue written by Plato around 380 BC. In this dialogue, Socrates seeks the true definition of rhetoric, attempting to pinpoint the essence of rhetoric and unveil the flaws of the sophistic oratory popular in Athens at this time...

    .)
  • Money making, which Aristotle asserts to be a life based on aiming at what is pursued by necessity in order to achieve higher goals, an intermediate good.


Each of these three commonly proposed happy ways of life represents a target that people aim at for its own sake, just like they aim at happiness itself for its own sake. Concerning honor, pleasure, and intelligence (nous
Nous
Nous , also called intellect or intelligence, is a philosophical term for the faculty of the human mind which is described in classical philosophy as necessary for understanding what is true or real, very close in meaning to intuition...

) and also every virtue, though they lead to happiness, even if they did not we would still pursue them.

Happiness in life then, includes the virtues, and Aristotle adds that it would include self-sufficiency (autarkeia), not the self-sufficiency of a hermit, but of someone with a family, friends and community. By itself this would make life choiceworthy and lacking nothing. In order to describe more clearly what happiness is like, Aristotle next asks what the work (ergon) of a human is. All living things have nutrition and growth as a work, all animals (according to the definition of animal Aristotle used) would have perceiving as part of their work, but what is more particularly human? The answer according to Aristotle is that it must involve articulate speech (logos
Logos
' is an important term in philosophy, psychology, rhetoric and religion. Originally a word meaning "a ground", "a plea", "an opinion", "an expectation", "word," "speech," "account," "reason," it became a technical term in philosophy, beginning with Heraclitus ' is an important term in...

), including both being open to persuasion by reasoning, and thinking things through. Not only will happiness involve reason, but it will also be an active being at work (energeia), not just potential happiness, and it will be over a lifetime, because "one swallow does not make a spring". The definition given is therefore:
And because happiness is being described as a work or function of humans, we can say that just as we contrast harpists with serious harpists, the person who lives well and beautifully in this actively rational and virtuous way will be a "serious" (spoudaios) human.

As an example of popular opinions about happiness, Aristotle cites an "ancient one and agreed to by the philosophers". According to this opinion, which he says is right, the good things associated with the soul are most governing and especially good, when compared to the good things of the body, or good external things. Aristotle says that virtue, practical judgment and wisdom, and also pleasure, all associated with happiness, and indeed an association with external abundance, are all consistent with this definition.

If happiness is virtue, or a certain virtue, then it must not just be a condition of being virtuous, potentially, but an actual way of virtuously "being at work
Potentiality and actuality
In philosophy, Potentiality and Actuality are principles of a dichotomy which Aristotle used throughout his philosophical works to analyze motion, causality, ethics, and physiology in his Physics, Metaphysics, Ethics and De Anima .The concept of potentiality, in this context, generally refers to...

" as a human
Human nature
Human nature refers to the distinguishing characteristics, including ways of thinking, feeling and acting, that humans tend to have naturally....

. For as in the Ancient Olympic Games, "it is not the most beautiful or the strongest who are crowned, but those who compete". And such virtue will be good, beautiful and pleasant, indeed Aristotle asserts that in most people different pleasures are in conflict with each other while "the things that are pleasant to those who are passionately devoted to what is beautiful are the things that are pleasant by nature and of this sort are actions in accordance with virtue". External goods are also necessary in such a virtuous life, because a person who lacks things such as good family and friends might find it difficult to be happy.

Questions that might be raised about the definition


In chapters 9-12 Aristotle confronts some objections or questions that might be had to his definition of happiness so far.
  • First he considers the definition of happiness in contrast to an old Socratic question (found for example in Plato
    Plato
    Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

    's Meno
    Meno
    Meno is a Socratic dialogue written by Plato. It attempts to determine the definition of virtue, or arete, meaning virtue in general, rather than particular virtues, such as justice or temperance. The first part of the work is written in the Socratic dialectical style and Meno is reduced to...

    ) of whether happiness might be a result of learning or habit or training, or perhaps divine lot or even chance. Aristotle says that it admits of being shared by some sort of learning and taking pains. But despite this, even if not divine, it is one of the most divine things, and "for what is greatest and most beautiful to be left to chance would be too discordant".

  • Aristotle justifies saying that happiness must be considered over a whole lifetime because otherwise Priam
    Priam
    Priam was the king of Troy during the Trojan War and youngest son of Laomedon. Modern scholars derive his name from the Luwian compound Priimuua, which means "exceptionally courageous".- Marriage and issue :...

    , for example, would be defined as unhappy only because of his unhappy old age.
  • Concerning the importance of chance to happiness, Aristotle argues that a happy person at work in accordance with virtue "will bear what misfortune brings most beautifully and in complete harmony in every instance". Only many great misfortunes will limit how blessed such a life can be, but even then "even in these circumstances something beautiful shines through".
  • Addressing an opinion that he expected amongst his contemporaries about happiness, Aristotle says that it "seems too unfeeling and contrary to people's opinions" to claim that "the fortunes of one's descendants and all one's friends have no influence at all". But he says that it seems that if anything at all gets through to the deceased, whether good or the reverse, it would be something faint and small".
  • Once again turning to the divinity of happiness Aristotle distinguishes virtue and happiness saying that virtue, through which people "become apt at performing beautiful actions" is praiseworthy, while happiness is something more important, like god, "since every one of us does everything else for the sake of this, and we set down the source and cause of good things as something honored and divine".

From defining happiness to discussion of virtue: introduction to the rest of the Ethics


Aristotle asserts that we can usefully accept some things which are said about the soul (clearly a cross reference to Plato again), including the division of the soul into rational and irrational parts, and the further division of the irrational parts into two parts also:
  • One irrational part of the human soul is "not human" but "vegetative" and at most work during sleep, when virtue is least obvious.
  • A second irrational part of the human soul is however able to share in reason in some way. We see this because we know there is something "desiring and generally appetitive" in the soul which can on different occasions in different people either oppose reason, or obey it—thus being rational just as we would be rational when we listen to a father being rational.


The virtues then will be similarly divided, into intellectual (dianoetic) virtues, and the virtues of character (ethical or moral virtues) pertaining to the irrational part of the soul which can take part in reason.

These virtues of character, or "moral virtues" as they are often translated, become the central topic in Book II. The intellectual aspect of virtue will be discussed in Book VI.

Book II: That virtues of character can be described as means


Aristotle says that whereas virtue of thinking needs teaching, experience and time, virtue of character (moral virtue) comes about as a consequence of following the right habits. According to Aristotle the potential for this virtue is by nature
Nature (philosophy)
Nature is a concept with two major sets of inter-related meanings, referring on the one hand to the things which are natural, or subject to the normal working of "laws of nature", or on the other hand to the essential properties and causes of those things to be what they naturally are, or in other...

 in humans, but whether virtues come to be present or not is not determined by human nature
Human nature
Human nature refers to the distinguishing characteristics, including ways of thinking, feeling and acting, that humans tend to have naturally....

.

Trying to follow the method of starting with approximate things gentlemen can agree upon, and looking at all circumstances, Aristotle says that we can describe virtues as things which are destroyed by deficiency or excess. Someone who runs away becomes a coward, while someone who fears nothing is rash. In this way the virtue "bravery" can be seen as depending upon a "mean" between two extremes. (For this reason, Aristotle is sometimes considered a proponent of a doctrine of a "golden mean
Golden mean (philosophy)
In philosophy, especially that of Aristotle, the golden mean is the desirable middle between two extremes, one of excess and the other of deficiency. For example courage, a virtue, if taken to excess would manifest as recklessness and if deficient as cowardice....

".) People become habituated well by first performing actions which are virtuous, possibly because of the guidance of teachers or experience, and in turn these habitual actions then become real virtue where we choose good actions deliberately.

According to Aristotle character properly understood, meaning one's virtue or vice, is not just any tendency or habit but something which affects when we feel pleasure or pain. A virtuous person feels pleasure at the most beautiful or noble (kalos) actions. A person who is not virtuous will often find his or her perceptions of what is most pleasant to be misleading. For this reason, any concern with virtue or politics requires consideration of pleasure and pain. When a person does virtuous actions, for example by chance, or under advice, they are not yet necessarily a virtuous person. It is not like in the productive arts, where the thing being made is what is judged as well made or not. To truly be a virtuous person, one's virtuous actions must meet three conditions: (a) they are done knowingly, (b) they are chosen for their own sakes, and (c) they are chosen according to a stable disposition (not at a whim, or in any way that the acting person might easily change his choice about). And just knowing what would be virtuous is not enough. According to Aristotle's analysis, there are three kinds of things which come to be present in the soul that virtue is: a feeling
Feeling
Feeling is the nominalization of the verb to feel. The word was first used in the English language to describe the physical sensation of touch through either experience or perception. The word is also used to describe experiences, other than the physical sensation of touch, such as "a feeling of...

 (pathos), an inborn predisposition or capacity (dunamis
Dunamis
In philosophy, Potentiality and Actuality are principles of a dichotomy which Aristotle used throughout his philosophical works to analyze motion, causality, ethics, and physiology in his Physics, Metaphysics, Ethics and De Anima .The concept of potentiality, in this context, generally refers to...

), or a stable disposition which has been acquired (hexis
Hexis
Hexis is a Greek word, important in the philosophy of Aristotle, and because of this it has become a traditional word of philosophy. It stems from a verb related to possession or "having", and Jacob Klein, for example, translates it as "possession". It is more typically translated in modern texts...

). In fact, it has already been mentioned that virtue is made up of hexeis, but on this occasion the contrast with feelings and capacities is made clearer—neither are chosen, and neither are praiseworthy in the way that virtue is.

Comparing virtue to productive arts (technai) like with arts, virtue of character must not only be the making of a good human, but also the way in which a human does his own work well. And being skilled in an art can also be described as a mean between excess and deficiency: when they are well done we say that we would not want to take away or add anything from them. But Aristotle points to a simplification in this idea of hitting a "mean". In terms of what is best, we aim at an extreme, not a mean, and in terms of what is base, the opposite.

Chapter 7 turns from general comments to specifics. A list of virtues and vices of character are given which will be discussed in Books II and III. As Sachs points out (2002, p. 30) it appears that the list is not especially fixed, because it differs between the Nicomachean and Eudemian Ethics
Eudemian Ethics
The Eudemian Ethics is a work of philosophy by Aristotle. Its primary focus is on Ethics, making it one of the primary sources available for study of Aristotelian Ethics. It is named for Eudemus of Rhodes, a pupil of Aristotle who may also have had a hand in editing the final work...

, and also because Aristotle repeats several times that this is a rough outline.

Aristotle also mentions some "mean conditions" involving feelings: a sense of shame is sometimes praised, or said to be in excess or deficiency. Righteous indignation (Greek: nemesis) is a sort of mean between joy at the misfortunes of others and envy. Aristotle says that such cases will need to be discussed later, before the discussion of Justice in Book V, which will also require special discussion. But the Nicomachean Ethics only discusses the sense of shame at that point, and not righteous indignation (which is however discussed in the Eudemian Ethics
Eudemian Ethics
The Eudemian Ethics is a work of philosophy by Aristotle. Its primary focus is on Ethics, making it one of the primary sources available for study of Aristotelian Ethics. It is named for Eudemus of Rhodes, a pupil of Aristotle who may also have had a hand in editing the final work...

 Book VIII).

In practice Aristotle explains that people tend more by nature towards pleasures, and therefore see virtues as being relatively closer to the less obviously pleasant extremes. While every case can be different, given the difficulty of getting the mean perfectly right it is indeed often most important to guard against going the pleasant and easy way. However this rule of thumb is shown in later parts of the Ethics to apply mainly to some bodily pleasures, and is shown to be wrong as an accurate general rule in Book X.

Book III. Chapters 1–5: Moral virtue as conscious choice


Chapter 1 distinguishes actions which are chosen as the ones relevant to virtue, and whether actions are to be blamed, forgiven or even pitied.

Aristotle divides actions into three categories instead of two:-
  • Voluntary (ekousion) acts.
  • Involuntary or unwilling (akousion) acts, which are is the simplest case where people do not praise or blame. In such cases a person does not choose the wrong thing, for example if the wind carries a person off, or if a person has a wrong understanding of the particular facts of a situation. Note that ignorance of what aims are good and bad, such as people of bad character always have, is not something people typically excuse as ignorance in this sense. "Acting on account of ignorance seems different from acting while being ignorant".
  • "Non-voluntary" or "non willing" actions (ouk ekousion) which are bad actions done by choice, or more generally (as in the case of animals and children when desire or spirit causes an action) whenever "the source of the moving of the parts that are instrumental in such actions is in oneself" and anything "up to oneself either to do or not". However, these actions are not taken because they are preferred in their own right, but rather because all options available are worse.


It is concerning this third class of actions that there is doubt about whether they should be praised or blamed or condoned in different cases.

Several more critical terms are defined and discussed:
  • Deliberate choice (proairesis), "seems to determine one's character more than one's actions do". Things done on the spur of the moment, and things done by animals and children can be willing, but driven by desire and spirit and not what we would normally call true choice. Choice is rational, and according to the understanding of Aristotle, choice can be in opposition to desire. Choice is also not wishing for things one does not believe can be achieved, such as immortality, but rather always concerning realistic aims. Choice is also not simply to do with opinion, because our choices make us the type of person we are, and are not simply true or false. What distinguishes choice is that before a choice is made there is a rational deliberation or thinking things through.
  • Deliberation (bouleusis), at least for sane people, does not include theoretical contemplation about universal and everlasting things, nor about things that might be far away, nor about things we can know precisely, such as letters. "We deliberate about things that are up to us and are matters of action" and concerning things where it is unclear how they will turn out. Deliberation is therefore not how we reason about ends we pursue, health for example, but how we think through the ways we can try to achieve them. Choice then is decided by both desire and deliberation.
  • Wishing (boulēsis) is not deliberation. We cannot say that what people wish for is good by definition, and although we could say that what is wished for is always what appears good, this will still be very variable. Most importantly we could say that a serious (spoudaios) man will wish for what is truly most beautiful and most pleasant. People are most often mislead by what they think is most pleasant.


Chapter 5 considers choice, willingness and deliberation in cases which exemplify not only virtue, but vice. Virtue and vice according to Aristotle are "up to us". This means that although no one is willingly unhappy, vice by definition always involves actions which were decided upon willingly. (As discussed earlier, vice comes from bad habits and aiming at the wrong things, not deliberately aiming to be unhappy.) Lawmakers also work in this way, trying to encourage and discourage the right voluntary actions, but don't concern themselves with involuntary actions. They also tend not to be lenient to people for anything they could have chosen to avoid, such as being drunk, or being ignorant of things easy to know, or even of having allowed themselves to develop bad habits and a bad character. Concerning this point, Aristotle asserts that even though people with a bad character may be ignorant and even seem unable to chose the right things, this condition stems from decisions which were originally voluntary, the same as poor health can develop from past choices; and "while no one blames those who are ill-formed by nature, people do censure those who are that way through lack of exercise and neglect". The vices then, are voluntary just as the virtues are. He states that people would have to be unconscious not to realize the importance of allowing themselves to live badly, and he dismisses any idea that different people have different innate visions of what is good.

Book III. Chapters 6–12, First examples of moral virtues


Aristotle now deals separately with some of the specific character virtues, in a form similar to the listing at the end of Book II, starting with courage and temperance.

Courage

Concerned with Mean Excess Deficiency
|
fear (phobos) and confidence (tharsos) Courage (andreia): mean in fear and confidence First Type. excessive fearlessness has no special name Cowardly (deilos): exceeds in fear and is deficient in confidence
Second Type. Rash (thrasus): exceeds in confidence
|

Courage means holding a mean position in one's feelings of confidence and fear. But courage is not thought to relate to fear of evil things which it is right to fear, like disgrace, and courage is not the word used for a man who does not fear danger to his wife and children, or punishment for breaking the law. Instead courage usually refers to confidence and fear concerning the most fearful thing, death, and specifically the most potentially beautiful form of death, death in battle.

The courageous man, says Aristotle, will sometimes fear even terrors which not everyone feels the need to fear, but he will endure fears and feel confident in a rational way, for the sake of what is beautiful (kalos), because this is what virtue aims at. Beautiful action comes from a beautiful character and aims at beauty. The vices opposed to courage were discussed at the end of Book II. Although there is no special name for it, people who have excessive fearlessness would be mad, which Aristotle remarks that some describe Celts as being in his time. Aristotle also remarks that "rash" people (thrasus), those with excessive confidence, are generally cowards putting on a brave face.

Apart from the correct usage above, the word courage is applied to five other types of character according to Aristotle:-
  • The courage of citizen soldiers. Aristotle says this is largely a result of penalties for cowardice and honors for bravery, but that it is the closest type of seeming courage to real courage, is very important for making an army fight as if brave, but it is different from true courage because not based on voluntary actions aimed at being beautiful in their own right. Aristotle perhaps surprisingly notes that the Homeric heroes such as Hector
    Hector
    In Greek mythology, Hectōr , or Hektōr, is a Trojan prince and the greatest fighter for Troy in the Trojan War. As the first-born son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba, a descendant of Dardanus, who lived under Mount Ida, and of Tros, the founder of Troy, he was a prince of the royal house and the...

     had this type of courage.
  • People experienced in some particular danger often seem courageous. This is something that might be seen amongst professional soldiers, who do not panic at false alarms. In another perhaps surprising remark Aristotle specifically notes that such men might be better in a war than even truly courageous people. However, he also notes that when the odds change such soldiers run.
  • Spirit or anger (thumos) often looks like courage. Such people can be blind to the dangers they run into though, meaning even animals can be brave in this way, and unlike truly courageous people they are not aiming at beautiful acts. This type of bravery is the same as that of a mule risking punishment in order to keep grazing, or an adulterer taking risks. Aristotle however notes that this type of spirit shows an affinity to true courage and combined with deliberate choice and purpose it seems to be true courage.
  • The boldness of someone who feels confident based on many past victories is not true courage. Like a person who is over-confident when drunk this apparent courage is based on a lack of fear, and will disappear if circumstances change. A truly courageous person is not certain of victory and does endure fear.
  • Similarly, there are people who are over confident simply due to ignorance. An over-confident person might stand a while when things do not turn out as expected but a person confident out of ignorance is likely to run at the first signs of such things.


Chapter 9. As discussed in Book II already, courage might be described as achieving a mean in confidence and fear, but we must remember that these means are not normally in the middle between the two extremes. Avoiding fear is more important in aiming at courage than avoiding over-confidence. As in the examples explained above, over-confident people are likely to be called courageous, or considered close to courageous. Aristotle said in Book II that with the moral virtues such as courage, it is the extreme which one's normal desires tend away from which is most important to aim towards. When it comes to courage, it heads people towards pain in some circumstances, and therefore away from what they would otherwise desire. Men are sometimes even called courageous just for enduring pain. There can be a pleasant end of courageous actions but it is obscured by the circumstances, and death is by definition always a possibility. So this is one example of a virtue that does not bring a pleasant result.

Aristotle's treatment of the subject is often compared to Plato's. Courage was dealt with by Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 in his Socratic dialogue named the Laches
Laches
* Laches : an equitable principle in Anglo-American law* Laches : an Athenian aristocrat * Laches : a Socratic dialogue of Plato-See also:* Lache...

.

Temperance (sōphrosunē)

Concerned with Mean Excess Deficiency
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pleasure (hēdonē) and pain (lupē) Temperance (sōphrosunē) Profligacy, dissipation, etc. (akolasia) scarcely occurs, but we may call it Insensible (anaisthētos)
|

Temperance (sōphrosunē, also translated as soundness of mind, moderation, discretion) is a mean with regards to pleasure
Pleasure
Pleasure describes the broad class of mental states that humans and other animals experience as positive, enjoyable, or worth seeking. It includes more specific mental states such as happiness, entertainment, enjoyment, ecstasy, and euphoria...

. He adds that it is only concerned with pain
Pain
Pain is an unpleasant sensation often caused by intense or damaging stimuli such as stubbing a toe, burning a finger, putting iodine on a cut, and bumping the "funny bone."...

s in a lesser and different way. The vice
Vice
Vice is a practice or a behavior or habit considered immoral, depraved, or degrading in the associated society. In more minor usage, vice can refer to a fault, a defect, an infirmity, or merely a bad habit. Synonyms for vice include fault, depravity, sin, iniquity, wickedness, and corruption...

 which occurs most often in the same situations is excess with regards to pleasure (akolasia, translated licentiousness, intemperance, profligacy, dissipation etc.). Pleasures can be divided into those of the soul and of the body. But those who are concerned with pleasures of the soul, honor, learning, for example, or even excessive pleasure in talking, are not usually referred to as the objects of being temperate or dissipate. Also, not all bodily pleasures are relevant, for example delighting in sight
Visual perception
Visual perception is the ability to interpret information and surroundings from the effects of visible light reaching the eye. The resulting perception is also known as eyesight, sight, or vision...

s or sound
Sound
Sound is a mechanical wave that is an oscillation of pressure transmitted through a solid, liquid, or gas, composed of frequencies within the range of hearing and of a level sufficiently strong to be heard, or the sensation stimulated in organs of hearing by such vibrations.-Propagation of...

s or smell
Olfaction
Olfaction is the sense of smell. This sense is mediated by specialized sensory cells of the nasal cavity of vertebrates, and, by analogy, sensory cells of the antennae of invertebrates...

s are not things we are temperate or profligate about, unless it would be the smell of food or perfume which triggers another yearning. Temperance and dissipation concern the animal-like, Aphrodisiac
Aphrodite
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation.Her Roman equivalent is the goddess .Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia....

, pleasures of touch and taste
Taste
Taste is one of the traditional five senses. It refers to the ability to detect the flavor of substances such as food, certain minerals, and poisons, etc....

, and indeed especially a certain type of touch, because dissipated people do not delight in refined distinguishing of flavors, and nor indeed do they delight in feelings one gets during a workout or massage in a gym
Gym
The word γυμνάσιον was used in Ancient Greece, that mean a locality for both physical and intellectual education of young men...

nasium.

Chapter 11. Some desires like that food and drink, and indeed sex, are shared by everyone in a certain way. But not everyone has the same particular manifestations of these desires. In the "natural desires" says Aristotle, few people go wrong, and then normally in one direction, towards too much. What is just to fulfill one's need, whereas people err by either desiring beyond this need, or else desiring what they ought not desire. But regarding pains, temperance is different than courage. A temperate person does not need to endure pains, but rather the intemperate person feels pain even with his pleasures, but also by his excess longing. The opposite is rare, and therefore there is no special name for a person insensitive to pleasures and delight. The temperate person will desire the things which are not impediments to health, nor contrary to what is beautiful, nor beyond that person's resources. Such a person judges according to right reason (orthos logos).

Chapter 12. Intemperance is a more willingly chosen vice than cowardice, because it positively seeks pleasure, while cowardice avoids pain, and pain can derange a person's choice. So we reproach intemperance more, because it is easier to habituate oneself so as to avoid this problem. The way children act also has some likeness to the vice of akolasia. Just as a child needs to live by instructions, the desiring part of the human soul must be in harmony with the rational part. Desire without understanding can become insatiable, and can even impair reason.

Plato's treatment of the same subject is once again frequently compared to Aristotle's, as was apparently Aristotle's intention (see Book I, as explained above):

Aristotle discusses this subject further in Book VII.

Book IV. The second set of examples of moral virtues


The set of moral virtues discussed here involves getting the balance of one's behavior right in social or political situations, leading to themes that become critical to the development of some of the most important themes.

Book IV is sometimes described as being very bound to the norms of an Athenian gentleman in Aristotle's time. While this is consistent with the approach Aristotle said he would take in Book I, in contrast to the approach of Plato, there is long running disagreement concerning whether this immersion within the viewpoint of his probable intended readership is just a starting point to build up to more general conclusions, for example in Book VI, or else shows that Aristotle failed to successfully generalize, and that his ethical thinking was truly based upon the beliefs of a Greek gentleman of his time.

Liberality or Generosity (eleutheriotēs)

Concerned with Mean Excess Deficiency
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giving and getting (smaller amounts of) money Liberality (Rackham), generosity (Sachs) (eleutheriotēs) Prodigality (Rackham), Wastefulness (Sachs) (asōtia) Meanness (Rackham), Stinginess (Sachs) (aneleutheria)
|

This is a virtue we observe when we see how people act with regards to giving money, and things whose worth is thought of in terms of money. The two un-virtuous extremes are wastefulness and stinginess (or meanness). Stinginess is most obviously taking money too seriously, but wastefulness, less strictly speaking, is not always the opposite (an under estimation of the importance of money) because it is also often caused by being unrestrained. A wasteful person is destroyed by their own acts, and has many vices at once. Aristotle's approach to defining the correct balance is to treat money like any other useful thing, and say that the virtue is to know how to use money: giving to the right people, the right amount at the right time. Also, as with each of the ethical virtues, Aristotle emphasizes that such a person gets pleasures and pains at doing the virtuous and beautiful thing. Aristotle goes slightly out of his way to emphasize that generosity is not a virtue associated with making money, because, he points out, a virtuous person is normally someone who causes beautiful things, rather than just being a recipient. 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". Having said this however, most people we call wasteful are not only wasteful in the sense opposed to being generous, but also actually unrestrained and have many vices at once. 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

Concerned with Mean Excess Deficiency
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giving and getting greater things Magnificence (megaloprepeia) Tastelessness (apeirokalia) or Vulgarity (banausia) Paltriness (Rackham), Chintziness (Sachs) (mikroprepeia)
|

This is 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
Hexis
Hexis is a Greek word, important in the philosophy of Aristotle, and because of this it has become a traditional word of philosophy. It stems from a verb related to possession or "having", and Jacob Klein, for example, translates it as "possession". It is more typically translated in modern texts...

) 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".

Magnanimity or "greatness of soul"

Concerned with Mean Excess Deficiency
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great honor (timē) and dishonor Greatness of Soul (megalopsuchia)
(Traditional translation "magnanimity". Sometimes "pride".)
Vanity (chaunotēs) Smallness of Soul (mikropsuchia)
|

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. This is why some modern translations refer literally to greatness of soul. In particular, the term implied not just greatness, but a person who thought of themselves worthy of great thing, or in other words a sort of pride. (Michael Davis translates it as pride.) Although the term could imply a negative insinuation of lofty pride, Aristotle as usual tries to define what the word should mean as a virtue. 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 which fail to achieve the mean of the virtue of magnanimity. The small souled person, according to Aristotle, "seems to have something bad about him".

In order 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 are which 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.)
Leo Strauss
Leo Strauss
Leo Strauss was a political philosopher and classicist who specialized in classical political philosophy. He was born in Germany to Jewish parents and later emigrated to the United States...

 notes that "there is a close kinship between Aristotle's justice and biblical justice, but Aristotle's magnanimity, which means a man's habitual claiming for himself great honors while he deserves these honors, is alien to the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

". 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. See also below concerning the sense of shame.

Aristotle lists some typical characteristics of great souled people :
  • They do not take small risks, and are not devoted to risk taking, but they will take big risks, without regard for their life, because a worse life is worth less than a great life. Indeed they do few things, and are slow to start on things, unless there is great honor involved.
  • They do not esteem what is popularly esteemed, nor what others are good at. They take few things seriously, and are not anxious.
  • They gladly do favors but are ashamed to receive them, being apt to forget a favor from another, or to do a greater one in return. They are pleased to hear discussion about the favors they have done for others, but not about favors done for them.
  • They are apt to act more high handedly to a person of high station than a person of middle or low standing, which would be below them.
  • They are frank in expressing opinions and open about what they hate and love. Not to be so would be due to fear, or the esteem one has of other's opinions over your own.
  • They lead life as they choose and not as suits others, which would be slave-like.
  • They are not given to wonder, for nothing seems great to them.
  • Because they expect others to be lesser, and are not overly concerned with their praise, they are not apt to bear grudges, they are not apt to gossip, and they are not even interested in speaking ill of enemies, except to insult them.
  • They are not apt to complain about necessities or small matters, nor to ask for help, not wanting to imply that such things are important to them.
  • They tend to possess beautiful and useless things, rather than productive ones.
  • They tend to move slowly and speak with a deep steady voice, rather than being hasty or shrill which would be due to anxiety.

A balanced ambitiousness concerning smaller honors

Concerned with Mean Excess Deficiency
|
lesser honor (timē) and dishonor no special term in ancient Greek for the right amount of ambition (Over-)ambitiousness (philotimos) lack of ambition (aphilotimos)
|

Book IV, Chapter 4. In parallel with the distinction of scale already made between normal generosity and magnificence, Aristotle proposes that there are two types of virtue associated with honors, one concerned with great honors, Magnanimity or "greatness of soul" and one with more normal honors. This latter virtue is a kind of correct respect for honor which Aristotle had no Greek word for, but which he said to be 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 rights types of honor from the rights 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.

Gentleness (praótēs) concerning anger

Concerned with Mean Excess Deficiency
|
anger (orgē) Gentleness (praotēs) Irascibility (Rackham), Irritability (Sachs) (orgilotēs) Spiritlessness (aorgẽsia)
|

Book IV Chapter 5. The virtue of praótēs is the correct mean concerning anger. 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". People can get this wrong in numerous ways, and Aristotle says it is not easy to get right. 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 which 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.

Something like friendship, between being obsequious and surly

Concerned with Mean Excess Deficiency
|
general pleasantness in life Friendliness (something like philia) First Type. obsequious (areskos), if for no purpose| quarrelsome (duseris) and surly (duskolos)
Second type. flatterer (kolax), if for own advantage
|

Book IV Chapter 6. These characteristics concern the attitude people have towards whether they cause pain to others. The obsequious (oreskos) 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 which avoids the vices, although he 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. Concerning true friendship see books VIII and IX.

According to Aristotle, getting this virtue right also involves:-
  • Dealing differently with different types of people, for example people in a higher position than oneself, people more or less familiar to you, and so on.
  • Sometimes being able to share in the pleasure of one's companions at some expense to oneself, if this pleasure not be harmful or dishonorable.
  • Being willing to experience pain in the short term for longer run pleasure of a greater scale.


Apart from the vice of obsequiousness, there is also flattery, which is the third vice whereby someone acts in an obsequious way in order to try to gain some advantage to themselves.

Honesty about oneself: the virtue between boasting and self-deprecation

Concerned with Mean Excess Deficiency
|
truth (alēthēs) Truthfulness(alētheia) Boastfulness: pretense as exaggeration (alazoneia) Self-deprecation: pretense as understatement (eironia, same word as "irony
Irony
Irony is a rhetorical device, literary technique, or situation in which there is a sharp incongruity or discordance that goes beyond the simple and evident intention of words or actions...

")
|

Book IV Chapter 7. In translations such as Rackham's the vice at issue here is sometimes referred to in English as boastfulness (Greek alazoneia) and this is contrasted to a virtue concerning truthfulness. The reason is that Aristotle describes two kinds of untruthful pretense which are vices, one which exaggerates things, boastfulness, and one which 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, the vices which 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 with 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. But even more remarkable is the fact that one of the vices under discussion, self-deprecation (Greek eirôneia from which modern English "irony
Irony
Irony is a rhetorical device, literary technique, or situation in which there is a sharp incongruity or discordance that goes beyond the simple and evident intention of words or actions...

") is an adjective that was and is often used to describe Socrates
Socrates
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

. Aristotle even specifically mentions Socrates as an example, but at the same time mentions (continuing the theme) that the vice which is less excessive is often less blameworthy.

Being witty or charming

Concerned with Mean Excess Deficiency
|
pleasantness and social amusement Wittiness (Rackham) Charming (Sachs) (eutrapelos) Buffoonery (bõmolochia) Boorishness bõmolochos
|

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. In contrast a buffoon can never resist making any joke, and the deficient vice in this case is an uncultivated person who does not get jokes, and is useless in playful conversation. 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 law maker making suitable laws for themselves.

Sense of Shame (not a virtue)


Chapter 9. The sense of shame is not a virtue, but more like a feeling than a stable character trait (hexis
Hexis
Hexis is a Greek word, important in the philosophy of Aristotle, and because of this it has become a traditional word of philosophy. It stems from a verb related to possession or "having", and Jacob Klein, for example, translates it as "possession". It is more typically translated in modern texts...

). 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
Leo Strauss
Leo Strauss was a political philosopher and classicist who specialized in classical political philosophy. He was born in Germany to Jewish parents and later emigrated to the United States...

 notes that this approach, as well as Aristotle's discussion of magnanimity (above), are in contrast to the approach of the Bible.

Book V: Justice and Fairness: a moral virtue needing special discussion


Book V is the same as Book IV of the Eudemian Ethics
Eudemian Ethics
The Eudemian Ethics is a work of philosophy by Aristotle. Its primary focus is on Ethics, making it one of the primary sources available for study of Aristotelian Ethics. It is named for Eudemus of Rhodes, a pupil of Aristotle who may also have had a hand in editing the final work...

, the first of three books common to both works. It represents the special discussion on justice (dikaiosunē) which was already foreseen in earlier books, and which covers some of the same material as Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

's Republic
Republic (Plato)
The Republic is a Socratic dialogue written by Plato around 380 BC concerning the definition of justice and the order and character of the just city-state and the just man...

although in a strikingly different way.

points that although the chapter nominally follow 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" in other words it is not described as a mean between two extremes. Indeed, as Burger point out, the approach is also quite different from previous chapters in the way in which 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 which 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". These two common meanings of justice would coincide to the extent that any set of laws is itself good, something only lawmakers can affect, and it is this all-encompassing meaning, which would equate to the justice of a good lawmaker, which becomes Aristotle's point of reference for further discussion. 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 which would encompass not only all types of justice, but also all types of excellence of character, there is a partial virtue which 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
Pleonexia
Pleonexia, sometimes called pleonexy, originates from the Greek language πλεονεξια and is a philosophical concept employed both in the New Testament and in writings by Plato and Aristotle...

) and are ascribed to injustice. Unlike with 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. He then divides particular justice further into two parts: distribution of divisible goods and rectification in private transactions. 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. The following chart showing divisions with Aristotle's discussion of Justice in Book V, based on Appendix 3.

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" (1131a). The just must fall between what is too much and what is too little and the just requires the distribution to be made between people of equal stature.

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.” (1131a23-24). 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 choiceworthy and as such is the greater good (1131b21-25).

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
Reciprocity (social and political philosophy)
The social norm of reciprocity is the expectation that people will respond to each other in similar ways—responding to gifts and kindnesses from others with similar benevolence of their own, and responding to harmful, hurtful acts from others with either indifference or some form of retaliation...

 ("an eye for an eye
Eye For An Eye
Eye for an Eye is a Polish hardcore punk rock band founded in 1997 in Bielsko-Biała. EFAE, as it is also known, plays an old school style of punk, more along the veins of The Exploited or even, some say, Agnostic Front. The punk stylings of EFAE has been compared to fellow countrymen Post Regiment,...

") is justice, an idea he associates with the Pythagoreans. The problem with this approach to justice, although it is normal in politics and law-making, is that it ignores the difference between different reasons for doing a crime. 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." In a famous statement, Aristotle makes a point which, like many points in Book 5, is thought to refer us to consideration of Plato's Republic. "Some people think that all rules of justice are merely conventional, because whereas a law of nature is immutable and has the same validity everywhere, as fire burns both here and in Persia, rules of justice are seen to vary." Aristotle insists that justice is both fixed in nature in a sense, but also variable in a specific way: "the rules of justice ordained not by nature but by man are not the same in all places, since forms of government are not the same, though in all places there is only one form of government that is natural, namely, the best form." He believed people can generally see which types of rules are conventional, and which by nature, and he felt that most important when trying to judge whether someone was just or injust was determining whether someone did something voluntarily or not. Some people commit crimes by accident or due to vices other than greed or injustice.

Book VI: Intellectual virtue


Book VI of the Nicomachean Ethics is identical to Book V of the Eudemian Ethics
Eudemian Ethics
The Eudemian Ethics is a work of philosophy by Aristotle. Its primary focus is on Ethics, making it one of the primary sources available for study of Aristotelian Ethics. It is named for Eudemus of Rhodes, a pupil of Aristotle who may also have had a hand in editing the final work...

. Earlier in both works, both the Nicomachean Ethics Book IV, and the equivalent book in the Eudemian Ethics (Book III), though different, ended by stating that the next step was to discuss justice. Indeed in Book I Aristotle set out his justification for beginning with particulars and build up to the highest things. Character virtues (apart from justice perhaps) were already discussed in an approximate way, as like achieving at 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 recognizing the correct boundary-marker (horos) which defines the frontier of the mean. And so practical ethics, having a good character, requires knowledge.

Near the end of Book I Aristotle said that we may follow others in considering the soul (psuchē) to be divided into a part having reason and a part without it. Until now, he says, discussion has been about one type of virtue or excellence (aretē) of the soul — that of the character (ēthos, the virtue of which is ēthikē aretē, moral virtue). Now he will discuss the other type: that of thought (dianoia).

The part of the soul with reason is divided into two parts:
  • One whereby we contemplate or observe the things which have invariable causes.
  • One whereby we contemplate the variable things. It is this part with which we deliberate concerning actions.


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
Hexis
Hexis is a Greek word, important in the philosophy of Aristotle, and because of this it has become a traditional word of philosophy. It stems from a verb related to possession or "having", and Jacob Klein, for example, translates it as "possession". It is more typically translated in modern texts...

(stable dispositions) which the soul can have, and which can disclose truth:
  1. Art
    Art
    Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect....

     (Techne
    Techne
    Techne, or techné, as distinguished from episteme, is etymologically derived from the Greek word τέχνη which is often translated as craftsmanship, craft, or art. It is the rational method involved in producing an object or accomplishing a goal or objective...

    ). This is rational, because it involves making things deliberately, in a way that can be explained. (Making things in a way which could not be explained would not be techne.) It concerns variable things, but specifically it concerns intermediate aims. A house is built not for its own sake, but in order to have a place to live, and so on.
  2. Knowledge
    Knowledge
    Knowledge is a familiarity with someone or something unknown, which can include information, facts, descriptions, or skills acquired through experience or education. It can refer to the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject...

     (Episteme
    Episteme
    Episteme, as distinguished from techne, is etymologically derived from the Greek word ἐπιστήμη for knowledge or science, which comes from the verb ἐπίσταμαι, "to know".- The Concept of an "Episteme" in Michel Foucault :...

    ). "We all assume that what we know is not capable of being otherwise." And "it escapes our notice when they are or not". "Also, all knowledge seems to be teachable, and what is known is learnable."
  3. Practical Judgement (Phronesis
    Phronesis
    Phronēsis is an Ancient Greek word for wisdom or intelligence which is a common topic of discussion in philosophy. In Aristotelian Ethics, for example in the Nicomachean Ethics it is distinguished from other words for wisdom as the virtue of practical thought, and is usually translated "practical...

    ). This is the judgement used in deciding well upon overall actions, not specific acts of making as in techne. While truth in techne would concern making something needed for some higher purpose, phronesis judges things according to the aim of living well overall. This, unlike techne and episteme then, is an important virtue then, which will require further discussion. Aristotle associates this virtue with the political art. Aristotle distinguishes skilled deliberation from knowledge, because we do not need to deliberate about things we already know. It is also distinct from being good at guessing, or being good at learning, because true consideration is always a type of inquiry and reasoning.
  4. Wisdom
    Wisdom
    Wisdom is a deep understanding and realization of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to apply perceptions, judgements and actions in keeping with this understanding. It often requires control of one's emotional reactions so that universal principles, reason and...

     (Sophia). Because wisdom belongs to the wise, who are unusual, it can not be that which gets hold of the truth. This is left to nous, and Aristotle describes wisdom as a combination of nous and episteme ("knowledge with its head on").
  5. Intellect
    Intellect
    Intellect is a term used in studies of the human mind, and refers to the ability of the mind to come to correct conclusions about what is true or real, and about how to solve problems...

     (Nous
    Nous
    Nous , also called intellect or intelligence, is a philosophical term for the faculty of the human mind which is described in classical philosophy as necessary for understanding what is true or real, very close in meaning to intuition...

    ). Is the capacity we develop with experience, to grasp the sources of knowledge and truth, our important and fundamental assumptions. Unlike knowledge (episteme), it deals with unarticulated truths. Both phronēsis and nous are directed at limits or extremities, and hence the mean, but nous is not a type of reasoning, but is rather a perception of the universals which can be derived from particular cases, including the aims of practical actions. Nous therefore supplies phronēsis with its aims, without which phronēsis would just be the "natural virtue" (aretē phusikē) called cleverness (deinotēs).


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 concerned with higher things, he mentions the earlier philosophers, Anaxagoras
Anaxagoras
Anaxagoras was a Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. Born in Clazomenae in Asia Minor, Anaxagoras was the first philosopher to bring philosophy from Ionia to Athens. He attempted to give a scientific account of eclipses, meteors, rainbows, and the sun, which he described as a fiery mass larger than...

 and Thales
Thales
Thales of Miletus was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher from Miletus in Asia Minor, and one of the Seven Sages of Greece. Many, most notably Aristotle, regard him as the first philosopher in the Greek tradition...

, 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 which makes happiness.

Aristotle closes by arguing that in any case, when one considers the virtues in their highest form, they would all exist together.

Book VII. Impediments to virtue


This Book is the last of three books which are identical in both the Nicomachean Ethics and the Eudemian Ethics
Eudemian Ethics
The Eudemian Ethics is a work of philosophy by Aristotle. Its primary focus is on Ethics, making it one of the primary sources available for study of Aristotelian Ethics. It is named for Eudemus of Rhodes, a pupil of Aristotle who may also have had a hand in editing the final work...

. It is Book VI in the latter. It extends discussions which were discussed especially at the end of Book II, with the discussion of the vice akolasia and the virtue of sophrosune.

Aristotle names three things that humans should avoid, that have to do with one's character:-
  • Evils or vices (kakia), the opposites of virtues. These have been discussed already in Book II, because like vices themselves they are stable dispositions (hexeis), "knowingly and deliberately chosen" (Sachs p. 119).
  • Incontinence (akrasia), the opposite of self-restraint. Unlike true vices, these are weaknesses where someone passively follows an urge rather than a deliberate choice.
  • Being beast-like, or brutish (thêoriotês), the opposite of something more than human, something heroic or god-like such as Homer
    Homer
    In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

     attributes to Hector
    Hector
    In Greek mythology, Hectōr , or Hektōr, is a Trojan prince and the greatest fighter for Troy in the Trojan War. As the first-born son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba, a descendant of Dardanus, who lived under Mount Ida, and of Tros, the founder of Troy, he was a prince of the royal house and the...

    . (Aristotle notes that these terms beast-like and god-like are strictly speaking only for humans, because real beasts or gods would not have virtue or vice.)


Because vice (a bad equivalent to virtue) has already been discussed in Books II-V, in Book VII then, first akrasia, and then bestiality are discussed.

Book VII. Chapters 1–10: Self mastery


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". Aristotle argues that a simple equation should not be made between the virtue of temperance, and self-restraint, because self-restraint might restrain good desires, or weak unremarkable ones. Furthermore, a truly temperate person would not even have bad desires to restrain.

Aristotle reviews various opinions held about self-mastery, most importantly one which 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". His way of accommodating Socrates relies on the distinction between knowledge which is activated
Potentiality and actuality
In philosophy, Potentiality and Actuality are principles of a dichotomy which Aristotle used throughout his philosophical works to analyze motion, causality, ethics, and physiology in his Physics, Metaphysics, Ethics and De Anima .The concept of potentiality, in this context, generally refers to...

 or not, for example in someone drunk or enraged. 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 which are neither vice nor akrasia, but more animal-like.

Aristotle makes a Nature-nurture distinction between different causes of bestial behavior which he says occurs "in some cases from natural disposition, and in others from habit, as with those who have been abused from childhood". He refers to these as animal-like and disease-like conditions. Aristotle says that "every sort of senselessness or cowardice or dissipation or harshness that goes to excess is either animal-like or disease-like".

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. He also says that a bad temper is more natural and less blamable than desire for excessive unnecessary pleasure. And he claims that acts of hubris
Hubris
Hubris , also hybris, means extreme haughtiness, pride or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one's own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power....

never result from anger, but always have a connection to pleasure seeking, whereas angry people act from pain, and often regret it.

So there are two ways in which 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. Nevertheless it is better to have akrasia than the true vice of akolasia, where intemperate choices are deliberately chosen for their own sake. 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:-
  • Not everyone who stands firm on the basis of a rational and even correct decision has self-mastery. Stubborn people are actually more like a person without self-mastery, because they are partly led by the pleasure coming from victory.
  • Not everyone who fails to stand firm on the basis of his best deliberations has a true lack of self mastery. As an example he gives the case of Neoptolemus
    Neoptolemus
    Neoptolemus was the son of the warrior Achilles and the princess Deidamia in Greek mythology. Achilles' mother foretold many years before Achilles' birth that there would be a great war. She saw that her only son was to die if he fought in the war...

     (in Sophocles
    Sophocles
    Sophocles is one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. His first plays were written later than those of Aeschylus, and earlier than or contemporary with those of Euripides...

    ' Philoctetes
    Philoctetes
    Philoctetes or Philocthetes according to Greek mythology, the son of King Poeas of Meliboea in Thessaly. He was a Greek hero, famed as an archer, and was a participant in the Trojan War. He was the subject of at least two plays by Sophocles, one of which is named after him, and one each by both...

    ) refusing to lie despite being part of a plan he agreed with.
  • A person with practical judgment (phronesis) can not have akrasia. Instead it might sometimes seem so, because mere cleverness can sometimes recite words which might make them sound wise, like an actor or a drunk person reciting poetry. As discussed above, a person lacking self-mastery can have knowledge, but not an active knowledge that they are paying attention to.

Book VII. Chapters 11–14: Pleasure as something to avoid


Aristotle discusses pleasure in two separate parts of the Nicomachean Ethics (book 7 chapters 11-14 and book 10 chapters 1-5). Plato had discussed similar themes in several dialogues, including the Republic
Republic (Plato)
The Republic is a Socratic dialogue written by Plato around 380 BC concerning the definition of justice and the order and character of the just city-state and the just man...

 and the Philebus
Philebus
The Philebus , composed between 360 and 347 BC, is among the last of the late Socratic dialogues of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. Socrates is the primary speaker in Philebus, unlike in the other late dialogues...

 and Gorgias
Gorgias
Gorgias ,Greek sophist, pre-socratic philosopher and rhetorician, was a native of Leontini in Sicily. Along with Protagoras, he forms the first generation of Sophists. Several doxographers report that he was a pupil of Empedocles, although he would only have been a few years younger...

.

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 does not show that pleasure is not good nor even the best thing can be shown two ways: first that 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, and secondly that a good or bad thing can either be a "being at work" (energeia) or else a stable disposition (hexis
Hexis
Hexis is a Greek word, important in the philosophy of Aristotle, and because of this it has become a traditional word of philosophy. It stems from a verb related to possession or "having", and Jacob Klein, for example, translates it as "possession". It is more typically translated in modern texts...

) and there are pleasures which come from being settled into a natural hexis, and also pleasures which come from being in a stable hexis already, such as contemplation; and thirdly, 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
Speusippus
Speusippus was an ancient Greek philosopher. Speusippus was Plato's nephew by his sister Potone. After Plato's death, Speusippus inherited the Academy and remained its head for the next eight years. However, following a stroke, he passed the chair to Xenocrates. Although the successor to Plato...

 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 which 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 which 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
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

 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 [..] is not simple nor good". God, in contrast, "enjoys a single simple pleasure perpetually".

Books VIII and IX: Friendship and partnership


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 which receives praise in its own right, and being a good friend is sometimes thought to being linked to being a good person.
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 of them giving feelings of good will which go in two directions: that of utility or usefulness, that of pleasure, and that which pursues good. Two are inferior to the other because of the motive; friendships of utility and pleasure do not regard friends as people but 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 [...] to be the same as those which are the sphere of justice". And it is the transactions of friends by utility which sometimes require the use of written laws. Furthermore, all associations and friendships are part of the greater community, the polis
Polis
Polis , plural poleis , literally means city in Greek. It could also mean citizenship and body of citizens. In modern historiography "polis" is normally used to indicate the ancient Greek city-states, like Classical Athens and its contemporaries, so polis is often translated as "city-state."The...

, and different relationships can be compared to the different types of constitution, according to the same classification system Aristotle explains in his Politics
Politics (Aristotle)
Aristotle's Politics is a work of political philosophy. The end of the Nicomachean Ethics declared that the inquiry into ethics necessarily follows into politics, and the two works are frequently considered to be parts of a larger treatise, or perhaps connected lectures, dealing with the...

 (Monarchy
Monarchy
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

, Tyranny, Aristocracy
Aristocracy
Aristocracy , is a form of government in which a few elite citizens rule. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". In origin in Ancient Greece, it was conceived of as rule by the best qualified citizens, and contrasted with monarchy...

, Oligarchy
Oligarchy
Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with an elite class distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, commercial, and/or military legitimacy...

, Timocracy
Timocracy
Constitutional theory defines a timocracy as either:# a state where only property owners may participate in government# a government in which love of honor is the ruling principle...

, and Democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

).

Book X. Chapters 1–5: The theory of Pleasure


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 which was accepted as 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
Eudoxus
Eudoxus or Eudoxos was the name of two ancient Greeks:* Eudoxus of Cnidus , Greek astronomer and mathematician.* Eudoxus of Cyzicus , Greek navigator....

 and Plato, to argue that pleasure is clearly a good which is pursued for its own sake even if it is not "The Good", or in other words that which all good things have in common.

In chapter 3 Aristotle applies to pleasure his theory of motion (kinēsis) as an energeia as explained in his Physics
Physics (Aristotle)
The Physics of Aristotle is one of the foundational books of Western science and philosophy...

and Metaphysics
Metaphysics (Aristotle)
Metaphysics is one of the principal works of Aristotle and the first major work of the branch of philosophy with the same name. The principal subject is "being qua being", or being understood as being. It examines what can be asserted about anything that exists just because of its existence and...

. In terms of this approach, pleasure is not a movement or (kinēsis) because unlike the movement of walking across a specific room, or of building a house, or a part of a house, it has no end point when we can say it is completed. It is more like seeing which is either happening in a complete way or not happening. "Each moment of pleasurable consciousness is a perfect whole."

A sense perception like sight is in perfect activity (teleia energeia) when it is in its best conditions and directed at the best objects. And when any sense is in such perfect activity, then there is pleasure, and similarly thinking (dianoia) and contemplation (theōria) have associated pleasures. 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:
  1. thinking
  2. sight
  3. hearing and smell
  4. taste

Aristotle also argues that each type of animal has pleasures which are more appropriate to it, and in the same way there can be differences between people and 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.

Book X. Chapters 6-8: Happiness


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
Nous
Nous , also called intellect or intelligence, is a philosophical term for the faculty of the human mind which is described in classical philosophy as necessary for understanding what is true or real, very close in meaning to intuition...

) "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 ... theōrētikē). 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 which it would not be ridiculous to imagine the gods having. The intellect is indeed the 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".

Book X. Chapter 9: The need for education, habituation and good laws



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 law makers have never theorized and developed a scientific approach to analyzing what the best laws are. Furthermore, very few law-makers, perhaps only the Sparta
Sparta
Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

ns, 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 law-makers.

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 which exists today and is known as the Politics
Politics (Aristotle)
Aristotle's Politics is a work of political philosophy. The end of the Nicomachean Ethics declared that the inquiry into ethics necessarily follows into politics, and the two works are frequently considered to be parts of a larger treatise, or perhaps connected lectures, dealing with the...

.

Translations

(Translation, with Interpretive Essay, Notes, Glossary.). Re-issued 1980, revised by J. L. Ackrill and J. O. Urmson.. Re-issued 1976, revised by Hugh Tredennick.

External links




See also

  • Aristotelian ethics
    Aristotelian ethics
    Ethics as a subject begins with the works of Aristotle. In its original form, this subject is concerned with the question of virtue of character , or in other words having excellent and well-chosen habits. The acquisition of an excellent character is in turn aimed at living well and eudaimonia, a...

  • Ethics
    Ethics
    Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

  • Magna Moralia
    Magna Moralia
    The Magna Moralia is a treatise on ethics traditionally attributed to Aristotle, though the consensus now is that it represents an epitome of his ethical thought by a later, if sympathetic, writer. Several scholars have disagreed with this, taking the Magna Moralia to be an authentic work by...

     ("Great Ethics")
  • Eudemian Ethics
    Eudemian Ethics
    The Eudemian Ethics is a work of philosophy by Aristotle. Its primary focus is on Ethics, making it one of the primary sources available for study of Aristotelian Ethics. It is named for Eudemus of Rhodes, a pupil of Aristotle who may also have had a hand in editing the final work...

     (or Ethica Eudemia)
  • On Virtues and Vices
    On Virtues and Vices
    On Virtues and Vices is the shortest of the four ethical treatises attributed to Aristotle. The work is now regarded as spurious by scholars and its true origins are uncertain though it was probably created by a member of the peripatetic school.-References:* Zeller, Eduard. A history of...

    ** (or De Virtutibus et Vitiis Libellus)
  • Politics
    Politics (Aristotle)
    Aristotle's Politics is a work of political philosophy. The end of the Nicomachean Ethics declared that the inquiry into ethics necessarily follows into politics, and the two works are frequently considered to be parts of a larger treatise, or perhaps connected lectures, dealing with the...

     (or Politica)
  • Economics
    Economics (Aristotle)
    The Economics is a work that has been ascribed to Aristotle. It is usually attributed, by modern scholars, to a student of Aristotle, or to a student of his successor Theophrastus....

    * (or Oeconomica)
  • Bekker numbers
  • Energeia
  • Eudaimonia
    Eudaimonia
    Eudaimonia or eudaemonia , sometimes Anglicized as eudemonia , is a Greek word commonly translated as happiness or welfare; however, "human flourishing" has been proposed as a more accurate translation...

  • Intellectual virtues
  • Noesis
  • Phronesis
    Phronesis
    Phronēsis is an Ancient Greek word for wisdom or intelligence which is a common topic of discussion in philosophy. In Aristotelian Ethics, for example in the Nicomachean Ethics it is distinguished from other words for wisdom as the virtue of practical thought, and is usually translated "practical...

  • Virtue Ethics
    Virtue ethics
    Virtue ethics describes the character of a moral agent as a driving force for ethical behavior, rather than rules , consequentialism , or social context .The difference between these four approaches to morality tends to lie more in the way moral dilemmas are...

  • Hexis
    Hexis
    Hexis is a Greek word, important in the philosophy of Aristotle, and because of this it has become a traditional word of philosophy. It stems from a verb related to possession or "having", and Jacob Klein, for example, translates it as "possession". It is more typically translated in modern texts...

  • Moral character
    Moral character
    Moral character or character is an evaluation of a particular individual's durable moral qualities. The concept of character can imply a variety of attributes including the existence or lack of virtues such as integrity, courage, fortitude, honesty, and loyalty, or of good behaviors or habits...

  • Virtue
    Virtue
    Virtue is moral excellence. A virtue is a positive trait or quality subjectively deemed to be morally excellent and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being....