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Philosophy Notes: Ethical Theories

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PHI 1700

Philosophy 1700- Ethical Theories Professor Schwarzenbach 8/31/11 -What is philosophy? The study of the love of wisdom -Greek: Philos Sophia= friend of lover of wisdom- Philosopher -Sophia- wisdom -Philos- friend or lover -Knowledge vs. Wisdom -Wisdom: Knowledge of a whole (Plato) (more general) -Thales -The first philosopher -Lived before Socrates -“All is water” -The ultimate element of the world is water -Appearance and reality are different things- philosopher seeks underlying reality -You cannot step in the same river twice Pre-socratics -Studying natural world, things are different than they appear -5 Different branches of philosophy 1. Metaphysics- the study of the nature of reality (Is it made of water, atoms…) (What‟s the nature of time, a person…) -Meta: beyond nature (the physics) -Studies the first principles or essences of things -Why do you want the essence of things? -Want to know what a good person is vs. a quack… 2. Ontology- the study of being -Logos: word/speech -Ontos: being -Is there only ONE substance (god) in the world or multiple… -Studies the nature of being -Narrower than metaphysics 3. Epistomology- the study of episteme- “knowledge” -Do we get knowledge through senses or intellect… -Theoretical Knowledge vs. Practical -Looking for the notion or truth, what‟s reality 4. Ethics- the study of the good/the right (we‟re focusing primarily here) 5. Aesthetics- beauty -Eye in the eye of the beholder or out there…? -Why do we start with the ancient Greeks? -Thales -Tries to give an explanation of the underlying reality th -Socrates- 15 century BC -Condemned to death but took poison instead -Charged with corruption of the youth and impiety (not being religious) -During time of Greek gods- didn‟t believe in them -Teacher of Plato -399 BC -Traditional Greek Morality- Homeric Morality -Author of Iliad and the Odyssey -Aristocratic people -Pride, Power, Physical beauty, Courage, Loyalty -Education -Rote memory (no questioning) -Nomos vs. Phusis -Nomos: Man-made or made by law (made through human law) changeable, arbitrary -Phusis: In the nature of things, unchanging, eternal At this point, they wondered are our moral nature or are they changeable? -Socrates -Science of Ethics- What motivates people, underlying principles, are things good… -Stone mason and very poor, spent time in Market place discussing philosophic issues with young men of Athens from good families -Young men said, “I want to philosophize and not go into family business!” so parents got mad -Replacing with what? Ground ethics/morality in reason- Socratic Method -Can be ethical without religion (Greek gods weren‟t even good) -Should allow you to make good decisions in life 9/7/11 Nicomachean Ethics- -Socrates-Plato-Aristotle -Plato thought he was virtuous and then was condemned to death. -Aristotle studied at Plato‟s academy -Aristotle started a school in Athens- The Lyceum: philosophers here called peripetetics (means walking) -From age 17-38 he studied at Plato‟s academy (384-322 BC) -Then he‟s Alexander‟s tutor -Aristotle wrote on almost everything -Son of a doctor so interested in philosophy and physics -He wrote in aesthetics -DeAnima (On the soul)- Psychology - Nichomacus was Aristotle‟s son so wrote the book to give guidance to him -Virtue ethics- studies the “good” person -Why is the person good and what is it about them, how can I be like them? -Plato thought ethics should be a science like math, wanted precision -Wanted to find definition of things like justice, has to be definite -Genreal method- Aporetic method (Greek- “Aporea”-perplexity or problem) -Can‟t use same method we use in math or science -Humans are variable, we change and develop so nothing is absolute whereas a triangle always has 3 sides -Precision has to be relative to the subject matter -Method is try to get rid of contradictions in the problem -Chapter 4 pg. 163 -You have to be well trained from the beginning to be ethical -But what if you‟re not? Then you‟re in trouble and wont live a decent life -Have to start from what‟s known and familiar to us- what is happiness? -Take “ta phenomen”-phenomenon- what do people think happiness is? Note that. Aporetic Method 1. Start with what you know, what you think is true, and what people say- especially the wise and the many 2. Try to resolve the difficulties and (try to come up with a subset of what people think happiness is and) 3. Find the underlying definition or principle- true definition= Aristotle’s positive theory of X -Aim of ethics is ultimately practical- to live in practice of a good life and in happiness- ACTION -We‟re happy “for the most part” -Shouldn‟t be studied for the young -Assumed that people reading his book are educated, upper class males like his son -Page 161 -Precision in some crafts isn‟t the same in others Beginning of the book -1. All human activities aim at some good -Is there one good ultimately or many different ones? -There could be many things (wealth, money, power or honor) -Money making is not a serious contender in life -Done under compulsion, a necessity -What is happiness? -Eudaimonia (happiness) 1. Entails activity-not a couch potato 2. “Over a complete life”- not such a couple of hours or days -One swallow (bird) doesn‟t make a summer 3. Live a life that’s specifically human 4. Activities “done for their own sake” (not out of necessity) -Learning, Sports, mating, traveling, experience of beauty, sensuous enjoyment -Money is compulsion 5. “Complete” and self-sufficient- you need nothing more -The human function argument (book 1 chapter 7 169-170)= (Greek-Ergon) -Pocket knife: What‟s its function? What‟s good for it is whatever helps it do its function (part of its identity and critical to what makes it happy) -“Characteristic activity” -Do humans have a function? 1. “Life”- plants have life too so not special 2. Perception (sensation)- animals also have 3. “The active life of the element that has a rational principle”- Reason (pg. 169)- ability to reason rationally, specifically human activities -3 Different lives 1. Sensuous enjoyment -What’s wrong with this life? 2. Politics/Life of activity 3. 9/12/11 DeAnima (of the soul) -Greek: psuche (soul) What did the Ancient Greeks think about the soul? And how does relate to human character? -Psuche- originally meant “breath” or “air” but cant really mean that, rather “aliveness” -Pre- socratics (natural philosophers)= Herachlitus, Thales… A. -Thought soul was a material substance (fire, water, air, earth…) -Aristotle said it can‟t be, fire isn‟t alive!! B. -Platonists -Soul is an immaterial substance (separate from body)- taken over by Christianity later C. -Aristotle -Life is in body -Soul is a compound of form in a particular matter (organizes the matter) -“Substance” (Ousia) a. Matter- “Potentiality” “That which in itself is not a „this‟” b. Form- “Actuality” [shape, ability to self organize] “That in virtue of which a thing is called a „this‟” a. It‟s nothing until it has a form! c. Compound of form and matter- (hylomorphism- matter + form) This is substance! The other 2 don‟t really exist. a. Aristotle believes in this. st Soul- the organization to function of a particular body, must have at least on 1 grade -pg. 65 -Actuality has 2 grades of actuality 1 grade- “passive”- you have actual knowledge but when asleep, not using it nd 2 grade- “exercising” Soul- matter that is informed by form (Eidos) specifically suited for it Why can‟t the soul be the actual body? Doesn‟t have the element of functioning without the soul, not just body because need “aliveness” and movement/nutrition Soul- substantial form of the body necessarily realized in a suitable matter (principle of a thing) (essential whatness) 3 Basic types of soul 1. First Soul- Threptikon (“The Nutritive and Reproductive”) a. Plants only have this b. Nutrition- reproduction of self c. Reproduction- reproduction of everyone d. Irrational Activity 2. The Animal Soul- “Aisthetikon” (Sensitive/Perceptive) a. Sensation- dependent on objects out there -Plants don‟t have sensations b. Locomotion c. Implies there‟s desire d. Imagination e. “Partly rational” f. Can only apprehend particulars 3. The Intellectual Soul (Noetikon) a. Logos- “speech” or “word” then logic and reasoning b. We can apprehend universals (ex: concept of time) i. Not perceived only conceived 9/19/11 Read Nicomachean Ethics 181-187 210-223 The soul- “form of the body” and principle of organization 1. Threptikon (vegetable soul)- Nutritive or reproductive soul 2. Aisthetikon- sensitive/perceiving soul- a. Desire and imagination (having images) b. Locomotion c. “Apprehends particulars”- have sense organs (see/smell people from long distance without the matter hitting the eye) 3. Intellectual soul/human soul (Noetikon) a. Logos- can apprehend universals (essential characteristic/form/essence) i. Common essence that things of a common category have in common, definition of what the thing is Passive vs. Active intellect Passive- intellect dependent on body (sensations/memories) tells you who your are (dies with death) Active- makes a thought and focuses, has a plan or principle (can survive death) Aristotle’s 4 causes (Aitia- Greek)= “ways of explaining” (the existence of the thing) = a reason why? 1. The Material Cause (Pg.31)- “That out of which a thing comes to be and persist” (Ex: a statue. Cause or Aitia-bronze) 2. The Formal Cause- “The statement of essence”= its definition- what kind of thing? Organization to function for living things (Formal cause of bronze is the form/shape so statue of a horse) 3. Efficient/Moving Cause- “Source of change” (the sculptor) 4. Final Cause- “that for the sake of which” ultimate reason/motive/end. Telos or end. Teleological cause. Aristotle says our soul is only 2,3 and 4 not 1. Demiurgos (god)- “Thinking thinking it‟s own thinking” 1. Formal, Final and Efficient cause of the universe a. “Unmoved mover” because he‟s pure form and activity and all the creatures in the universe long to be like him b. NOT material cause i. He imposes form, did not create the matter because it‟s eternal c. God didn‟t create world, matter is eternal (Christianity said he does d. God doesn‟t love you back (Christianity says God loves you back) 9/21/11 Read the Doctrine of the mean (Book 3) Human Function Argument- Active life in accordance with rational principle -Ergon- Actualizing function and that will make you happy Interpretation of how the 3 souls relate to each other: Intellectual Sensitive/Perceptive Nutritive/Reproductive Interpretation 1 (Christian reading) 1. Maximize intellect (logos) and minimize the “lower functions”= leads to aesthetic life Interpretation 2 (Closer to Aristotle) 1. Human life is organized by reason (organizes reproduction, nutrition, and perceptions/sensation) Arete- virtue or excellence (can be and mostly is physical- running horse would be long legs, knife would be sharp blade) What are Aretes of humans? (2 types) 1. Moral Virtue of Character (Ethike) a. A product of Habit (Hexis)- does not arise by nature b. A circularity to developing them (do it and it‟ll develop) c. A mean between two extremes- in actions and passions i. The mean in the object ii. The mean relative to us 1. Milo (a wrestler, if u eat as much as he does you‟ll be obese) (courage is the mean between rashness and cowardice) iii. How do you know the mean and extreme? Look to other people who look like they have practical wisdom iv. Doctrine of the Mean/Intermediate 1. Right thing at the right time to the right degree 2. Righteous indignation 3. Deduction- moving from a general to a particular (All men are mortal, Socrates is a man, Socrates is a mortal) d. Pertain to actions and passion (“I couldn‟t help it…) 2. Intellectual Virtue of Intellect (Dianoeitke) 9/26/10 Good human luck entails a lot of luck/chance (tuche) Need external props of the good life (Choregia)- wealth, high birth (nobility), friends, good children, and personal beauty If you have moral virtue and are pretty lucky then you‟ll lead a good life Christian view- wealth corrupts or interferes with moral virtue -Moral virtue or excellence of character (ethike)-ethical (arête)-excellence: In the soul we have: 1. Passions and emotions 2. Faculties (of reasoning and seeing…) 3. States of character (hexis) a. A product of habit (stabilized habit) b. Arises out of like activities (circularity)- training and education (by doing the act it becomes habit and part of you) c. The aim is internal to the activity d. Habit or trained faculty of choice Can you be morally responsible? You can if you: Have knowledge, Take pleasure in an activity, Are doing the act for itself, It proceeds from a firm character Definition of virtue in syllabus “Excellence is a state of character concerned with choice, lying in a mean relative to us, this being determined by reason and in the way… practical wisdom would determine it” 10/3/11 Voluntary action- source of movement is not from m
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