Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics is one of the most important texts in western philosophy, and arguably the most influential text on contemporary moral theory.
This GuideBook introduces and assesses:
* Aristotle's life and the background to the Nicomachean Ethics
* The ideas and text of the Nicomachean
* Aristotle's central role in philosophy and his continuing contribution to our ethical thought
Hughes (master of Campion Hall, Oxford Univ.) bases this study on Aristotle's central ethical work, the Nicomachaean Ethics. He astutely shows how a proper understanding of Aristotle's ethics depends on making distinctions concerning his key concepts, prime among which are eudaimonia and arete. Most writers uniformly translate the former as "happiness" and the latter as "excellence," but Hughes show how a correct understanding depends on the particular context in which Aristotle uses the terms. Therefore, where appropriate, he uses "happiness" or "fulfillment" or even "human flourishing" for eudaimonia and "virtue," "excellence," "skill," and "being good at," for arete. This method, he feels, more accurately captures what the ancient philosopher was intending. And these subtle distinctions do, indeed, enable the reader to understand better the main orientation of the Ethics, as a treatise on how individuals ought to live in order to achieve a fulfilled life. Hughes intended this to be "an accessible introduction to Aristotle for people coming to him for the first time," and in this he has succeeded. Whether or not the reader agrees with Aristotle's thinking is another question, but a thoughtful consideration of this book would at least enable him or her to debate it. For academic and public library collections. Leon H. Brody, U.S. Office of Personal Management Lib., Washington, DC Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Acknowledgements; Note on the Text; 1. Aristotle's Life and Work; An Outline of his Life and Times; His Works and Philosophical Background; 2. Style, Structure and Aim of the Ethics; The Nicomachaean Ethics; Aristotle's Preface (1): Why Do We Do Anything at All?; Aristotle's Preface (2): Realistic Expectations; Aristotle's Preface (3): Suitable Students; 3. The Fulfilled Life; The Meanings of Eudaimonia and Arete; Fulfilled Lives?; A Central Problem: "Dominant" or "Inclusive?"; Two Further Agreed Characteristics of Eudaimonia; Background: Aristotle's Views on the Human Soul; The Function Argument; The Characteristic Activity of Humans; The Characteristically Human and the Fulfilled Life; The Fulfilled Life and the Morally Admirable; Theoria and Being a Good Citizen; 4. Moral Virtues and Moral Training; The Definition of Moral Virtue; "A habitual disposition"; "Lying in a mean relative to us"; "A mean which is determined by reason"; "By which the person of practical wisdom would determine it"; "Concerned with choice"; Moral Training; What they already have; What they still need; Indoctrination?; 5. Practical Wisdom; Overview of the Issues; Practical Wisdom and Theoretical Ability; Is Practical Wisdom like other Practical Skills?; Practical Wisdom: About Means or about Ends?; a. "Particulars" and "Universals"; b. Deliberation, Means and Ends; Practical Wisdom and Moral Virtue; The Unity of the Virtues; Is Aristotle's Account Defensible?; 6. Responsibility; "Acting Willingly": Sorting Out Common Opinions; a. Compulsion; b. Ignorance; Moral Conclusions: The Best Index of Character; Responsibility for One's Character;Decisions and Freedom; Additional Note on "Wanting"; 7. Moral Failure; Why is Moral Failure Problematic?; Aristotle's Solution: One Interpretation; A More Detailed Defence; Several Types of Culpable Failure?; The Practical Syllogisms; Does Aristotle Defend Socrates or Commonsense?; Can we say why some people act wrongly when they need not have?; 8. Relationships with Others; Aristotelian Relationships; Is Aristotle an Ethical Egoist?; Flexibility, Relationships and Justice; 9. Pleasure and the Good Life; The issues as they appeared to Aristotle; a. Eudoxus; b. The physiology and psychology of pleasure; c. Geneal Moral Arguments; Aristotle's Comments on the Moral Arguments; The Argument from Opposites; Aristotle's Own View: Arguments and Problems; Pleasure is not a Process; Pleasure as the Perfection of an Acitivity; Are Some Pleasures Not Really Pleasures?; Is the Fulfilled Life Enjoyable?; 10. Aristotle's Moral World and Ours; Culture: Acceptance and Criticism; a. Some Unusual Athenian Virtues; b. Uncritical Acceptance?; Virtues and Principles; Bibliography