Eudemian ethics of Aristotle is not so popular as his Nicomachean ethics partly because it describes an analytical model of virtue — concept of the Mean. The virtues of being and ethical approaches to virtues have been considered by philosophers since early times. Courage is one of classical examples in ethical models, and Aristotle used courage as one of the best examples to describe his concept of the Mean. Evidences of this approach can be found throughout the texts of Plutarch. Usually, it is common to claim that this philosopher outlined several types of courage, according to reasons which raise it.

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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. It is suggested that around three NE books were lost and were replaced by three parallel works from the Eudemian Ethics, explaining the overlap.

Many believe that these works were not put into their current form by Aristotle himself, but by an editor sometime later. If there are several virtues then 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 serious harpists with other harpists.

He also asserts as part of this starting point that virtue for a human must involve reason in thought and speech logos , as this is an aspect an ergon, literally meaning a task or work of human living. He describes a sequence of necessary steps to achieve this: First, righteous actions, often done under the influence of teachers, allow the development of the right habits. These in turn can allow the development of a good stable character in which the habits are voluntary, and this in turn gives a chance of achieving eudaimonia.

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 like health or knowledge, meaning it is a stable disposition that must be pursued and maintained with some effort.

However, good habits are described as a precondition for good character. As he proceeds, he describes how the highest types of praise, so the highest types of virtue, imply having all the virtues of character at once, and these in turn imply not just good character, but a kind of wisdom.

This is the first case mentioned, and it is mentioned within the initial discussion of practical examples of virtues and vices at b Book IV. 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 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.

But achieving this supreme condition is inseparable from achieving all the virtues of character, or "moral virtues". As Burger points out p. As part of this, Aristotle considers common opinions along with the opinions of poets and philosophers. Who should study ethics, and how[ edit ] 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 ".

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. This is understood to be referring to Plato and his school, famous for what is now known as the Theory of Forms. 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 that 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 " Flourishing " eudaimonia and the aim of the Ethics[ edit ] The main stream of discussion starts from the well-known opening of Chapter 1, with the assertion that all technical arts, all investigations every methodos, including the Ethics itself , indeed all deliberate actions and choice, all aim at some good apart from themselves. 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.

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". Ethics, unlike some other types of philosophy, is inexact and uncertain. Aristotle says that it would be unreasonable to expect strict mathematical style demonstrations, but "each man judges correctly those matters with which he is acquainted".

The refined and active way of politics, which aims at honor, honor itself implying 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 doing in his Gorgias.

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 targets that some people aim at for their own sake, just like they aim at happiness itself for its own sake. Concerning honor, pleasure, and intelligence nous 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. 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 , including both being open to persuasion by reasoning, and thinking things through. Not only will human 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". Moreover, to be happy takes a complete lifetime; for one swallow does not make a spring. 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 " as a human. 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.

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 accepted that it would be wrong to call Priam unhappy only because his last years were unhappy.

Aristotle justifies saying that happiness must be considered over a whole lifetime because otherwise Priam , for example, would be defined as unhappy only because of his unhappy old age.

Only many great misfortunes will limit how blessed such a life can be, but "even in these circumstances something beautiful shines through".

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. 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 that 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 are 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.

The intellectual aspect of virtue will be discussed in Book VI. Books II—V: Concerning excellence of character or moral virtue[ edit ] Book II: That virtues of character can be described as means[ edit ] 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 in humans, but whether virtues come to be present or not is not determined by human nature.

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. A virtuous person feels pleasure when she performs 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. It is not like in the productive arts, where the thing being made is what is judged as well made or not. And just knowing what would be virtuous is not enough. 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. As Sachs points out, , p. 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.

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.

Book III. Chapters 1—5: Moral virtue as conscious choice[ edit ] Chapter 1 distinguishes actions chosen as relevant to virtue, and whether actions are to be blamed, forgiven, or even pitied.

Involuntary or unwilling akousion acts, which 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.

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. 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 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. 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 worthy spoudaios man will wish for what is "truly" good. Most people are misled by pleasure, "for it seems to them to be a good, though it is not".

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 decided on willingly.

As discussed earlier, vice comes from bad habits and aiming at the wrong things, not deliberately aiming to be unhappy. 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.


The Eudemian Ethics

It is in the hands of each individual, he argues in these books on personal ethics, to develop a character which bases a life on virtue, with positive but moderate habits. The Nicomachean Ethics, the primary work, the title is said to come from his son Nicomachus and is generally regarded as having been essentially notes for lectures is divided into ten books. It opens with a statement on who should study ethics and why, and that the pursuance of moral virtue leads to happiness. Courage, temperance, magnanimity, honesty, friendship are among the many qualities considered. Aristotle also outlines some of the obstacles to developing virtue. Throughout, the emphasis is placed on the practical advantages of developing positive ethics — this is practical philosophy.

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Aristotle’s Ethics

Related Entries 1. Both treatises examine the conditions in which praise or blame are appropriate, and the nature of pleasure and friendship; near the end of each work, we find a brief discussion of the proper relationship between human beings and the divine. Though the general point of view expressed in each work is the same, there are many subtle differences in organization and content as well. Clearly, one is a re-working of the other, and although no single piece of evidence shows conclusively what their order is, it is widely assumed that the Nicomachean Ethics is a later and improved version of the Eudemian Ethics. Perhaps the most telling indication of this ordering is that in several instances the Nicomachean Ethics develops a theme about which its Eudemian cousin is silent. The remainder of this article will therefore focus on this work.



Enter a Perseus citation to go to another section or work. Full search options are on the right side and top of the page. Hence accidentally, as was said, 1 opposites are dear to opposites also on account of the good. It has, then, been said how many kinds of friendship there are, and what are the different senses in which people are termed friends, and also givers and objects of affection, both in a manner that makes them actually friends and without being friends. Some think that every man is his own best friend, and they use this friendship as a standard by which to judge his friendship for his other friends. On theoretical grounds, and in view of the accepted attributes of friends, self-love and love of others are in some respects opposed but in others manifestly similar.


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Eudemian Ethics of the topics is different but there is perhaps no striking discrepancy of view. In conclusion there is a glance at Theoria, the activity of Speculative Wisdom, as the highest life of man; at Book II. There is nothing corresponding to the full treatment of Theoria as the consummation of human well-being that is given in N. Text, MSS.

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