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Honors Program
HONR 1101
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Emily McClure Nicomachean Ethics – Intro and Book 1 Plato and Aristotle focus on all of the same topics – happiness, good, the Ultimate Forms (Ideas) – but they focus on different parts of each of these topics. They analyze the different subjects through different styles and lenses and coming from different starting points. They are similar in some opinions, but definitely vary when it comes to more specific details and certain topics. Respecting the diverse interpretations of goods in human life and the ultimate good, Aristotle and Plato are similar in some ways but also differ a bit. To begin, both philosophers believe that some “ultimate good” is the most pure and basic form of good, and that it is the form of good that each individual is trying to reach. It is directly good in the way that it most directly provides happiness. It is not chosen because it leads to another good which causes happiness, but it is the most pure and ultimate Good possible. Aristotle writes that the “idea” or ultimate form of a virtue (like Happiness) is “…that which is always chosen for itself and never on account of something else” (11). He adds that the purest, most “complete” good is self-sufficient, by which he means, “by which itself makes life choiceworthy and in need of nothing” (12). This concept that the complete Ideas (or Forms, as Plato calls them) are the ultimate resting point, the furthest end of the spectrum, is touched on in bothAristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and in Plato’s Symposium. The difference is their interpretation of what the ultimate good is. If I remember correctly, Plato suggests in the Symposium that all the diverse good things in human life eventually lead to
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