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PHL100Y1 Study Guide - Internet Relay Chat Services, Nicomachean Ethics

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Mark Kingwell

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The Virtuous Life
Reading: Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics Books 1-2
Book 1
Chapter 1
Every skill and every inquiry, and every action and rational choice is thought to
aim at some good
Therefore good is at which everything aims
Difference in ends: some are activities, other are products, which are additional to
the activities where the products are by nature better than the activities
Because there are many actions, sciences, and skills, therefore there are many
ends, e.g. end of medicine is health
But when any of these actions, skills, or sciences come under some single faculty,
then in all these cases the end of the master science is more worthy of choice than
the ends of subordinate sciences, since these too are pursed for the sake of the
Chapter 2
If what is done has some end that we want for its own sake, and everything else
we want is for the sake of this end; and if we do not choose everything for the sake
of something else, then this will result in the chief good.
Knowledge of good is concern of the most authoritative sciencethe science of
politics, because it lays down which of the sciences there should be in cities, and
which each class of person should learn and up to what level
Political sciences end will be the human good, because it employs other sciences,
lays down the laws about what we should do and refrain from, and its end will
include the end of others
The good of an individual is desirable, but good for people and city is more
godlike thing
Chapter 3
Each person judges well what he knows, and is a good judge of this
In any subject, and the person educated in all subjects is a good judge without
One can gain knowledge only when they are living and engaging in each of his
pursuits according to his feelings.
Knowledge of the matters that concern political science will prove very beneficial
to those who follow reason both in shaping their desires and in acting
Chapter 4
All knowledge and rational choice seek good
Aim of political science: of all the good things to be done, what is the highest

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What is happiness? Masses: something straight forward, obvious, e.g. pleasure,
wealth, honour. Sometimes differ based on situation for same person, e.g. when
he is ill, it is health, and when he is poor, it is wealth
Plato – way to go was from first principle or to first principle?
We are known in two senses: known by us, and known without qualification
Begin from things known by us
First principle – the belief that something is the case, and if this is sufficiently
clear, he will not need the reason why as well
Hesoid: person who understand everything for himself is the best, and the person
who needs advice is noble, but person who is neither understand or takes to heart
is a worthless man
Chapter 5
3 types of life: life of enjoyment, life of politics, and life of contemplation
Sophisticated men, men of action, see happiness as honour, since it is almost the
end of political life
Pursue honour to convince themselves of their goodness; seek to be honoured by
people with practical wisdom—to these people, virtue is superior
Chapter 6
It is best to ignore ones personal feelings when preserving the truth, especially for
It is sacred to prefer the truth to ones friends
Good is spoken of in categories of substance, quality and of relation
Good is spoken of in that of quality – the virtues in that of quality – the right
amount in that of relation – the useful, in that of time – the right moment, and in
that of place – the right locality, etc
Therefore no common universal good
Things which are pursued and valued for their own sake are called good, while
these that tend to be instrumental to these things or in some way preserve or
prevent their contraries are called good for the sake of these
Therefore things should be called good in 2 senses: things good to themselves,
and things good for the sake of thing good to themselves
Things good to themselves, those that are sought even on their own, include:
understanding, sight, certain types of pleasure, and honours
Chapter 7
Good varies b/w actions and skills
If everything that is done has some end, this will be the good among things done,
and if there are several ends, these will be the goods
The chief good manifestly is something complete

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So if there is only one end that is complete, this will be what we are looking for,
and if there are several of them, the most complete
That which is worth pursuing for its own sake is more complete than that which is
worth pursuing only for the sake of something else and that which is never worth
choosing for the sake of something else is more complete than things that are
worth choosing both in themselves and for the sake of this end
Therefore which is always worth choosing in itself and never for the sake of
something else is complete without qualification
E.g. happiness is complete without qualification, because we always choose it for
itself and never choose for the sake of anything else, whereas honour, pleasure and
virtue we choose for themselves, but we also choose them for the sake of
happiness, believing they will lead us to happiness. Yet we do not choose
happiness for the sake of these or anything else.
Self-sufficient: something that which on its own makes life worthy of choice and
lacking in nothing
The good, or the doing well of a sculptor or any practitioner of a skill, or whatever
has some characteristic activity or action lies in its characteristic activity, so is
said for a human being, if he has a characteristic activity
Searching for characteristic activity in a human being – rule out life of
nourishment and growth, because we are looking for something that is unique to a
human beings and plants/animals live just like humans do
Also rule out sentiment, because it is shared by all animals
Finally life remains, concerned in some way with action, of the element that
possesses reason (of this element, one part of reason in being obedient to reason,
the other in possessing it and engaging in thought)
If the characteristic activity of a human being is an activity of the soul in
accordance with reason, and if the characteristic activity of anything is the same
in kind as that of a good thing of the same type, e.g. in the case of a lyre-player
and a good lyre-player, the superiority of the good one in virtue being an
addiction to the characteristic activity (e.g. characteristic activity of a lyre-player
is to play, and of a good lyre-player is to play it well), and if this is true, we take
the characteristic activity of a human being to be a certain kind of life, and if we
take this kind of life to be activity of the soul and action in accordance with
reason, and the characteristic activity of the good person to be to carry this out
well and nobly, and a characteristic activity to be accomplished well when it is
accomplished in accordance with the appropriate virtue, then the human good
turns out to be the activity of the soul in accordance with the best and most
complete, where this must be a complete life
Chapter 8
Goods have been classified into 3 groups: external goods, goods of the soul, and
goods of the body
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