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Lecture 4

SOC SCI H1E Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Nicomachean Ethics, Class Discrimination, Episteme

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Jessica Mangold
SocCore H1E
Professor O’Connell & Weatherall
Week 2 Lecture 2
Greek Philosophy
Summing Up
- ultimately, Plato/Socrates argues that to live a good life is to maximize the good (i.e., do
what is best for the soul)
- the means living according to certain virtues:
- justice
- wisdom
- courage
- moderation (temperance)
- claims these increase pleasure & remove suffering, but he means spiritual pleasure &
suffering, no bodily
- was a pupil of Plato & an Athenian philosopher in the Socratic tradition
- unlike Socrates or Plato, he wrote extensive works in his own voice, ranging on topics
ranging from aesthetics to zoology
- did not write down dialogue like Plato did
- his physics & metaphysics were extremely influential in Western thought -> forming
basis for essentially all scientific & philosophical work until the 16th century
- Aristotelian physics was prevailing theory before Galileo & Newton came along
- taught Alexander the Great, who then conquered Egypt, Persia, the Balkans, Babylon,
etc. (i.e., the world)
- most successful student
- The Lay of Aristotle and Phyllis -> when Aristotle training Alexander, he advised his
student that he was succumbing to worldly things (including his wife Phyllis)
- wanted Alexander to spy on Aristotle
- Phyllis asked to ride Aristotle like a horse & he agreed
*do things in moderation
Father of Empiricism
- Aristotle is sometimes identified as the first scientist, or the father of empiricism
- was the first to argue that knowledge of the world comes from our perception &
experience of the world
- Socrates: minds had existence prior to association with body in the world
- a separate realm where souls live that is not connected to the physical world
- “World of Forms” -> become acquainted with other forms in this world as a soul
- recall knowledge of the form of something from prior experience that soul had
in the World of Forms
- knowledge comes from recollection
- Aristotle argued can abstract a concept from the particulars after perception
Nichomachean Ethics

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- named for his son Nicomachus, Aristotle offers his (equally influential) advice for how
to live a good life
- words to live by for his child in order to be happy
- the aim is not just reflective, but practical
- meant to be a guide that tells how to think about things & what to do in various
Two Kinds of Happiness
- hedonic happiness: (mere) pleasure; satisfaction of bodily needs/wants; immediate
- eudaemonic happiness: (Eu = good; deamon = spirit) pleasures of the soul; spiritual
fulfillment & satisfaction; “human flourishing”
- in our translation: “happiness” is eudaemonic happiness; “pleasure” is hedonic
Hedonia v. Eudaimonia
- left burger picture -> hedonic
- Gandhi -> eudaimonia
What do you think?
- is this the right distinction to draw with respect to kinds of happiness?
- there are some things that do not fit neatly into these categories
- living healthfully is living virtuously -> eudaimonia
- are there others? Are these real ones?
- short term v. long term pleasure -> probably still falls under hedonism but
depends on when getting hedonic pleasure
- pleasure of achieving a goal
- have to consider intention of the action -> Aristotle says that virtue shows up in
all areas of lives in motivations
Finding Eudaimonia
- what is the good for some pursuit?
- its purpose of function
- its ‘ends’
- medicine -> health
- strategy -> victory
- architecture -> house
*things are good in connection with some sort of activity & the end result
Living the Good Life
- why do we do anything?
- Aristotle says we do things to achieve good ends
- there has to be some sort of ultimate end
- the ultimate end is (eudaemonic) happiness
- “Honour, pleasure, intellect, and every virtue we do indeed choose for
themselves…but we choose them also for the sake of happiness, on the
assumption that through them we shall live a life of happiness; whereas happiness
no one chooses for the sake of any of these nor indeed for the sake of anything
*the chain terminates at this point
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