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Week 8 - Practical Wisdom Aristotle NE.docx
Week 8 - Practical Wisdom Aristotle NE.docx

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School
University of Toronto St. George
Department
Philosophy
Course
PHL100Y1
Professor
Peter King
Semester
Fall

Description
Philosophy Practical Wisdom Reading:Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics Book 3 Book 3 Chapter 1 • Since virtue is to do with feelings and actions, and since voluntary feelings and actions are praised and blamed, while the involuntary are pardoned and occasionally pitied, presumably anyone considering virtue must determine the limits of the voluntary and involuntary • Useful, especially in legislations or punishment and honours • Involuntary: things that happen by force or through ignorance • What is forced has external first principle, such that agent or person acted upon has contributed nothing to it • However for things done through fear of greater evils or for the sake of something noble, there is some dispute about whether they are voluntary or involuntary • And so voluntary and involuntary actions are to be ascribed at the time of the actions • Whether the first principle lies in a person, it is in his power to act or not to, and so such actions are voluntary, but without qualification, they are presumably involuntary, since no one would choose any of them to itself • People sometimes praised when they endure disgrace or pain in return for great and noble objects, and if they do the contrary, they are blamed, since it is characteristic of a bad person to endure the greatest disgraces for no noble end • Hard sometimes to determine what should be chosen at what cost, and what should be endured for what gain, and it is harder to stand by our decision, because the expected consequences are generally painful, and what one is compelled to do is shameful • The is why those who have been compelled or not re praised and blamed • Actions that in themselves are involuntary, but worth choosing at a certain time and for certain benefits, and have their first principle in the agent, are in themselves involuntary, but at that time and for those benefits voluntary • but they are more like voluntary actions, because actions are in the sphere of particulars, and here the particulars are voluntary • Not easy to explain what sort of things ought to be chosen in return for what, since there are any differences in particulars • If someone were to claim that sweet/noble things are forcible, he would be committed to all actions’being forced, since it is with those neds in view that everyone does everything, and people who are forced to act and do so involuntarily find it painful, while those who act because of what is pleasant/noble do so with pleasure • What is forced is an external first principle, where the person forced contributes nothing • Everything done through ignorance is non-voluntary, but what is involuntary also causes pain and regret, for the person who acted through ignorance, and is not upset by what he has done, has acted voluntarily, in that he is not pained Philosophy • Therefore of those who act through ignorance, the one who regrets what he did seems to be an involuntary agent, while the one who shows no regret, should have a name of his own • An action is not properly called involuntary, however if the agent is ignorant of what is beneficial, because it is not ignorant in rational choice that causes the involuntariness, but ignorance of particulars—the circumstances of the actions and what it is concerned with • It is on these that people pity and pardon depend, since someone who is ignorant of any of these is acing involuntarily • An action is called involuntary on the basis of a particular kind of ignorance that must also give rise to pain and regret • Voluntary: has first principle in the person himself when he knows the particular circumstances of the action • It is a mistake to describe actions done through spirit or appetite as involuntary, because 1 , none of the other animals, or children, will act voluntarily, and 2 , is it meant that none of the action we do through appetite and spirit is done involuntarily, or that we do the noble ones voluntarily, the disgraceful ones involuntarily? Chapter 2 • Rational choice is not shared by beings who lack reason, whereas appetite and spirit are shared • The incontinent person acts form appetite, but not from rational choices, while the self-controlled person does the contrary, and acts from rational choice, but not form appetite • Appetite can be in opposition to rational choice, but not to appetite • Appetite: concerned with what is pleasant and what is painful, rational choice with neither • Wish can be for things one could never bring about by one’s own efforts • Wish is more to do with the end, rational choice with what is conducive to the end, e.g. we wish to be healthy, but we rationally choose things that will make us healthy • Therefore rational choice is concerned with things that seem to be in our power • Belief is concerned with everything—no less with what is eternal and what is impossible than what is in our power, where distinctions are made on the grounds of truth and falsity • What we rationally choose is to obtain or avoid something good or bad, while we hold beliefs about what that is, whom it benefits, or in what way; we never really believe to obtain or avoid things • Rational choice is praised for being of what is right rather than for its being correct, while belief is praised for being true • We rationally choose what we best know to be good Philosophy • Belief is voluntary and it seem to signify something that is chosen before other things Chapter 3 • We deliberate about what is in our power, what we can do (what is possible?) • We deliberate about things that we can bring about, and not always in the same way • We deliberate more about skills than sciences, since we are less certain about the skills • Deliberation is concerned with what usually happens in a certain way, where the consequences are unclear, and where things are not definite • Call on other to deliberate on important issues, as we do not trust our own ability to decide • We deliberate about things that are conducive to ends • People establish an end an then go on to think about how and by what means it is to be achieved • If there are several means available, they consider by which it will be achieved in the easiest and most available way, while if it can be attained by only one means, they consider how this will bring it about, and by what further means this means is itself to be brought about, until they arrive at the first cause, the last thing to be found • What is possible is what can be accomplished by our own efforts, what can be brought about through our friends is in a sense accomplished by our own effort, in that the first principle is in us • Therefore a human being is a first principle of actions • Deliberation is about what he can do himself, and actions are done for the sake of other things, because it is not the end but what is conducive to an end that is the object of deliberation • Particulars are also not the objects, such as whether this is brad or has been baked as it should, these are matters of perception, and if we are always deliberating, it will never come to an end • The object of deliberation and of rational choice are the same, except that the object of rational choice has already been determined, since it is hat has been decided upon as the result of deliberation that is the object of rational choice • Each person stops inquiring how he is to act as soon as he has traced the first principle back to himself, to the part of him that gives commands, because it is this that rationally chooses • Since object of rational choice is one of the things that is in our power that is desired after deliberation, rational choice will be deliberative desire for things in our power, for when we have decided on the basis of our deliberation, we desire in accordance with deliberation • This serves as an outline of rational choice, the nature of it objects and the fact that it is concerned with what is conducive to ends Philosophy Chapter 4 • Without qualification and in truth, the object of wish is good, but for the individual it is the apparent good • For the good person, the object of wish is that which is truly an object of wish, but for the bas person it is any chance thing • E.g. in bodies, things that are truly healthy are healthy for bodies that are in good condition, while for those that are diseased other things are healthy • The good person judges each case rightly, and in each case the truth is manifest to him • Each state has its own conception of what is noble and pleasant, and one might say that the good person stands out a long way by seeing the truth in each case, being a sort of standard and measure of what is noble and pleasant • However in the case of the masses, pleasure seems to deceive them, because it looks like a good when it is not, people therefore choose what is pleasant thinking it to be a good, and avoid pain thinking it to be an evil Chapter 5 • Since the object of wish is the end, and the object of wish and of rational choice is what conduces to the end, actions concerning what conduces to the end will be in accordance with rational choice and voluntary • Activities of the virtues are concerned with what conduces to the end, therefore virtue is n our power, an so is vice • Where it is in our power to act, it is also in our power not to act, • So if it is in our power to do noble and shameful actions, and the same goes for not doing them, and if being good and bad consists in this, then it is in our power to be good or bad • We cannot refer back to any other first principle beyond those within us, the actions whose first principle are within us will themselves also be in our power and voluntary • View also backed up by legislators, for they punish and penalize anyone who does wicked things, unless he acts by force or through ignorance for which he is not
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