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nehasiddiqui,phl277,aristotle essay.docx

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Philip Clark

1 Neha Siddiqui Student number: 999091138 PHL 277 – Philip Clark November 25 , 2013 Aristotle’sApproach On Good Judgment In Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle discusses the makings of an excellent or virtuous person and the good life. He states that an excellent person leads a good life in that he/ she fulfills his/ her function of existing as a human which is to choose well and make good judgments (1107a). Aristotle states that humans have the capability to deliberate and through this they can either gain or lose control on their emotions (1112a15). The strength of their deliberation guides their choices in life and good choices are those which are balanced and fall in between the extremes of excess and deficiency. It is the rational, calculative part of the human soul which is involved in making good judgment. If one cannot deliberate upon their emotions and properly reason (consider all aspects of the situation), then it is possible for him/ her to go against his/ her better judgment. The first section of this paper will discuss Aristotle’s understanding of good judgment. The second section will argue and explain that the calculative part of the soul is mostly involved in the exercise of good judgment. The third section will distinguish between the calculative and emotional part of the soul and will advocate that it is possible for an individual to go against his/ her better judgment. Good Judgement 2 In Plato’s Republic, Thrasymachus explains his concept of good judgment as acting in a way which is in one’s own advantage. He believes it is intelligible to seek an advantage out of a situation and strive towards it, even if it requires one to be unjust. By doing so, the individual is making a good judgment as he/ she is benefitting from it. For Thrasymachus, being unjust is good judgment (348d). It is evident that for Thrasymachus, the end is what matters and not the means. He places more importance on the conclusion and less on how one achieved that conclusion. However, in the Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle takes a different approach towards “good judgment”. Firstly, Aristotle’s focus is towards the means and not the ends (1112b10). He argues that while deliberating on how to go about a certain decision, one can also question whether to even take that decision or not (1112b15-20). He does not believe in deciding upon a desired end and then taking the most convenient route (mean) towards it. Aristotle argues that one should deliberate the means and not the ends. Secondly, Aristotle states that a good life is one in which an individual functions well as a human being and by functioning well he means choosing well (1098a5-15). Understanding the situation and making the appropriate choices. Therefore, it can be concluded that “good judgment” for Aristotle is having the capability of proper understanding and choosing well, with all parts of the soul fulfilling their function. Parts of the Soul Aristotle analyzes the human soul as divided into two parts: one being the irrational part, which comprises of a person’s capabilities to reproduce, grow, and move (1102b1-5). However, these capabilities are not uniquely human as they are also found in plant and animals (1102b5). Therefore, the second part of a human’s soul, the rational part, makes this distinction. The rational part of a human’s soul is concerned with the uniquely human capabilities of feeling emotions, desires and of deliberating upon them (1102b30-1103a1). These capabilities indicate a 3 person’s choices and allow one to function well. Since the rational part is uniquely human and has the capability to deliberate, it is involved in the process of one exercising good judgment. Aristotle further breaks down the rational part into two more components: the emotional part which deals with one’s desires; and the calculative part’s function is to deliberate with the emotions and desires, consider all options and then make a decision to act in the best way possible. When deliberating, one has to answer practical questions such as how to achieve a certain goal. One must weigh the reasons of acting in all ways possible, and then decide to act accordingly to what situation calls for. It is evident that the calculative part’s function is to guides one’s decisions. It is through the calculative part that one is able to determine
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