Achieving excellence in terms of aristotles nichomachean ethics

Nicomachean ethics virtues

Aristotle suggests that some people are born with weaker wills than others; for these people, it may actually be a mean to flee in battle the extremes being to get slaughtered or commit suicide. Not providing just one simple definition of what it means to be "just" — a central term for many texts on the Contemporary Civilization syllabus — Aristotle underscores in this discussion of equity his belief in the manifold and malleable nature of ethical reasoning. For nothing human is so constant as the excellent exercise of our faculties. Aristotle does not elaborate on what a natural state is, but he obviously has in mind the healthy condition of the body, especially its sense faculties, and the virtuous condition of the soul. What is aimed at is sometimes the exercise of a faculty, sometimes a certain result beyond that exercise. If then there be one end of all that man does, this end will be the realizable good,—or these ends, if there be more than one. Hence, habits from a person's youth make a great difference in the excellence of that person's life.

Why does he not address those who have serious doubts about the value of these traditional qualities, and who therefore have not yet decided to cultivate and embrace them? And since each enjoys the trust and companionship of the other, there is considerable pleasure in these relationships as well.

Achieving excellence in terms of aristotles nichomachean ethics

It is important to bear in mind that when Aristotle talks about impetuosity and weakness, he is discussing chronic conditions. Thus it seems that happiness is something final and self-sufficing, and is the end of all that man does. The bonds that tie citizens together are so important that it would be unthinkable to suggest that true happiness can be found in the life of a hermit. Trevor Saunders. For surely we cannot expect Aristotle to show what it is about the traditional virtues that makes them so worthwhile until he has fully discussed the nature of those virtues. These terms play an evaluative role, and are not simply descriptions of someone's state of mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Furthermore, Aristotle nowhere announces, in the remainder of Book VI, that we have achieved the greater degree of accuracy that he seems to be looking for.

Even though Aristotle's ethical theory sometimes relies on philosophical distinctions that are more fully developed in his other works, he never proposes that students of ethics need to engage in a specialized study of the natural world, or mathematics, or eternal and changing objects.

But in each case we must try to apprehend them in the proper way, and do our Peters I. He will elaborate on these points in X.

Nicomachean ethics book 1

Just as consequentialism is the thesis that one should maximize the general good, whatever the good turns out to be, so egoism can be defined as the parallel thesis that one should maximize one's own good, whatever the good turns out to be. If what we know about virtue is only what is said in Books II through V, then our grasp of our ultimate end is radically incomplete, because we still have not studied the intellectual virtue that enables us to reason well in any given situation. This is hardly a digression from the main line of argument. Instead, virtue consists of learning through experience what is the mean path, relative to ourselves, between the vices we may be liable to stumble into. Though Aristotle lists a number of virtues, he sees them all as coming from the same source. Although there is no possibility of writing a book of rules, however long, that will serve as a complete guide to wise decision-making, it would be a mistake to attribute to Aristotle the opposite position, namely that every purported rule admits of exceptions, so that even a small rule-book that applies to a limited number of situations is an impossibility. If we ever call a child happy, it is because we hope he will do them. Although Aristotle is deeply indebted to Plato's moral philosophy, particularly Plato's central insight that moral thinking must be integrated with our emotions and appetites, and that the preparation for such unity of character should begin with childhood education, the systematic character of Aristotle's discussion of these themes was a remarkable innovation. As he himself points out, one traditional conception of happiness identifies it with virtue b30—1.

Why then should we not say the same about at least some of the emotions that Aristotle builds into his analysis of the ethically virtuous agent? To call something a pleasure is not only to report a state of mind but also to endorse it to others.

Problems with nicomachean ethics

Becoming a good horseman requires steady practice: one learns to handle a horse by spending a lot of time riding horses. We should also keep in mind Aristotle's statement in the Politics that the political community is prior to the individual citizen—just as the whole body is prior to any of its parts a18— Admittedly, close friends are often in a better position to benefit each other than are fellow citizens, who generally have little knowledge of one's individual circumstances. Ambiguity of good and pleasant. He organizes his material by first studying ethical virtue in general, then moving to a discussion of particular ethical virtues temperance, courage, and so on , and finally completing his survey by considering the intellectual virtues practical wisdom, theoretical wisdom, etc. Thus, it is one thing to think of writing the great American novel, another to actually write it. It is not easy to understand the point Aristotle is making here. He lies between the coward, who flees every danger and experiences excessive fear, and the rash person, who judges every danger worth facing and experiences little or no fear. Although there is no possibility of writing a book of rules, however long, that will serve as a complete guide to wise decision-making, it would be a mistake to attribute to Aristotle the opposite position, namely that every purported rule admits of exceptions, so that even a small rule-book that applies to a limited number of situations is an impossibility. Saying that courage is a mean between rashness and cowardice does not mean that courage stands exactly in between these two extremes, nor does it mean that courage is the same for all people. Nay, surely as his several members, eye and hand and foot, plainly have each his own function, so we must suppose that man also has some function over and above all these. At the time of action, the impetuous person experiences no internal conflict.

Aristotle repeatedly reminds us in the Ethics that there are no general laws or exact formulations in the practical sciences. Yet such an upbringing can take us only so far.

the ethics of aristotle: the nicomachean ethics

Aristotle attempts to answer this question in IX.

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Aristotle, "What is the Life of Excellence?"