Category: Great Books

Great BooksHarvard Classics

Nicomachean Ethics

Happiness = Pleasure (immediately accessible) – whims of self // Ambitious class Happiness = Honor and Status (manipulative pursuit of power) – whims of others // Life of Contemplation Happiness = understanding and wisdom

Happy life = virtue (being excellent at being human) or pursuit of excellence (arete). If you have “happiness” you don’t need happiness (+). What is the characteristic work of being a human? Need not praise humans for things that normally happen (breathing, existing). What would we praise a human for?

The human task is the activity of his soul in accord with virtue.

Bringing reasoning capacity and evaluation and reflection into activity // activity with reason (or not without reason) // bring mind into doing // don’t act mindlessly // be thoughtful and self reflective in the things that we do

Parts of soul = rational (two parts = intellectual, or part that can perform math or physics, and moral or choice-making and dealing with desires // is what we want good for us or will it allow for our overall benefit) and nonnational (breath/digest/grow = common to plants, perception, passion, and desire = common to animals)

Ethics is a kind of psychological health

Great Books

Nicomachean Ethics

Aristotle – Student of Plato

Plato – Student of Socrates

Socrates advocated finding truth through conversation to ensure understanding. Socrates believed writing arguments could lead to error via misunderstandings.

Figure out how each piece of the truth fits together.

Nicomachean Ethics was a lecture course given to students in his academy – specifically directed toward students with political aspirations.

Techne – a technical art or craft

Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action as well as choice, is held to aim at some good. (Ethics in this case is beginning with individual action. Aim at something that we think, individually, will be good for us.) Good desires built in to our nature. Good = we want it. Good is a goal or aim. Humans are based on action (praxis).

Some things we do for their own sake, some things we do for the sake of something else.

Household management (economia, economics, the pursuit of wealth)

What is the ultimate goal? What is the ultimate goal of being a human? – there is some overarching goal and “point” to life. What would that be if it exists?

What is the art or science in dealing with the ultimate good? Architectonic = politics which results in the good life for individuals and community.

Adequate inquiry = clarity // not seeking precision in all arguments alike

Does not matter that there are exceptions to the rule – looking for things that are true in general and “true for the most part” – Similar to class action lawsuits, correlative isn’t always causative, not a strict mathematical standard, example: chemical dumping causing cancers.