Aristotle's "Nicomachean ethics" by Otfried Hoffe

By Otfried Hoffe

A person attracted to theories of ethical or human perform will locate in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics one of many few easy types appropriate via to at the present time. on the centre of his research, either sober and wary, are such suggestions as happiness, advantage, selection, prudence, incontinence, excitement and friendship. Aristotle's arguments are in no way of purely ancient curiosity, yet proceed to exert a key impression on present-day moral debate. The 13 contributions during this quantity current the rules of Aristotle's research, in addition to the trendy history of its reception.

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The negative thesis here should also pertain: those who have lived only according to their passions do not know that there are such things as virtues. The positive thesis—a firm position in a life governed by reason or virtue—might on the other hand be too strong; for as Aristotle says in the discussion of incontinence (akrasia: cf. Robinson, Chapter Nine, below), there are individuals who are aware of virtue and yet do not act according to it. What then does a practical philosophy really achieve?

E. , a). The situation is different in biology, which according to Aristotle can be differentiated according to the particular case. The precision that is lacking in the outline knowledge of ethics, however, affects neither the correctness of a statement nor the strictness of its argument, but only the degree of detail. And in the case of this outline knowledge that is not merely relative, but absolute, this detail is contributed not by philosophy, but by practice. g. its teleological or eudemonic character.

B f. , b–; similarly Pol. , b–). e. ethics as practical philosophy  happiness, enjoys every outstanding quality; it is perfect (teleion), desirable (agapetôn), beautiful (kalon) and divine (theion). Thesis T thus deserves a modest summary interpretation: in communities it is not only individuals, but the many, who enjoy happiness. e. to humanity as a whole. The great Aristotelian of the Middle Ages, Thomas Aquinas, draws precisely this conclusion in his commentary on Aristotle’s Ethics.

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