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PHIL 1100 - READINGS - ARISTOTLE : "Nicomechian Ethics"

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PHIL 1100
Henry Jackman

PHIL 1100 - READINGS Aristotle – Nicomachean Ethics - Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and pursuit, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim - Where there are ends apart from the actions, it is the nature of the products to be better than the activities - The master arts are to be preferred to all the subordinate ends; for it is for the sake of the former that the latter are pursued - It makes no difference whether the activities themselves are the ends of the actions, or something else apart from the activities, as in the case of the sciences mentioned - Since Politics uses the rest of the sciences, and since it legislates as to what we are to do and whawt we are to abstain from, the end of this science must include those of the others, so that this end must be the good for man - Even if the end is the same for a single man and for a state, that of the state seems at all events something greater and more complete whether to attain or to preserve o Though it is worthwhile to attain the end merely for one man, it is finer and more godlike to attain it for a nation or for city-states - Political science admit of much variety and fluctuation of opinion, so that they may be thought to exist only by convention, and not by nature o Goods have a similar fluctuation because they bring harm to many people  Men have been undone by wealth and courage o we must content when speaking of such subjects and premises to indicate the truth roughly and in outline, and in speaking of things which are only for the most part true and with premises of the same kind to reach conclusions that are no better - it is the mark of an educated man to look for precision in each class of things just so far as the nature of the subject admits - a young man is not a proper hearer of lectures on political science; for he is inexperienced in the actions that occur in life o since he tends to follow his passions, his study will be vain and unprofitable, because the end aimed at is not knowledge but action - knowledge brings no profit; only for those who desire and act in accordance with a rational principle knowledge about matters will be of such great benefit - the many think that happiness is a plain and obvious thing, like pleasure, wealth or honour o differs to the individual depending on their situation - things are objects of knowledge in two senses – some to us, some without qualification - the man who is well brought up has or can easily get starting points - there are arguably three prominent types of life – that just mentioned (of pleasure), the political, and thirdly the contemplative life - consideration of the prominent types of life shows rthat people of superior refinement and of active disposition identify happiness with honour; for this is, the end of the political life o men pursue honour in order to be assured of their goodness o clearly then, virtue is better to them  might be the end of the political life - incomplete because possession of virtue seems actually compatible with being asleep, or lifelong inactivity - if there is an end for all that we do, this will be the good achievable by action,and if there are more than one, these will be the goods achievable by action - the chief good is evidently something final o therefore, if there is only one final end, this will be what we are seeking, and if there are more than one the most final of these will be what we are seeking - that which is in itself worthy of pursuit more final than that which is worthy of pursuit for the sake of something else, and that which is never desirable for the sake of something else more final than the things that are desirable both in themselves and for the sake of that other thing - we call final without qualification that which is always desirable in itself and never for the sake of something else - happiness no one choose for the sake of these, nor, in general, for anything other than itself - the final good is thought to be self-sufficient o we define this as that which when isolated makes life desirable and lacking in nothing - happiness is something final, self-sufficient, and the end of action - human good turns out to be activity of soul in accordance with virtue, and if there are more than one virtue, in accordance with the best and most complete - goods have been described as external, others as relating to soul or to body - those that relate to soul most properly and truly good, and physical actions and activities we class as relating to soul - with those that identify happiness with virtue it is important for those individual to partake in virtuous activity o example: in Olympic games it is not the strongest and most beautiful that wins, it is the one who competes - virtuous actions must be in themselves pleasant o but they are also good and noble, and have each of these attributes in the highest degree, since the good man judges well about these attributes - happiness then is the best, noblest, and most pleasant thing in the world - external goods are needed for it is impossible, or not easy, to do noble acts without the proper equipment - the man who is very ugly or ill-born or solitary and childless is not very likely to be happy - as a result, happiness seems to need this sort of prosperity – for which reason some identify happiness with good fortune, and others through virtue - happiness, if not god-sent, comes as a result of virtue and some process of learning or training, resulting in the most godlike things; for that which is the prize and end of virtue seems to be the best thing in the world, and something godlike and blessed - the end of political science to be the best end, and political science spends most of its pains on making the citizens to be of a certain character – good and capable of noble acts - evil and good are thought to exist for a dead man, as much as for one who is alive but not aware of them - if we must see the end and only then call a man happy, not as being happy, but as having been so before, surely this is a paradox - for no function of man has so much permanence as virtuous activities, and of these themselves the most valuable are more durable because those who are happy spend their life most readily and most continuously in these; for this seems to be the reason why we do not forget them - although things may be good or bad with chance, nobility still can shine through o when a man bears with resignation many great misfortunes, not thorough insensibility to pain but through nobility and greatness of soul - if activities are what gives life its character, no happy man can become miserable; for he will never do the acts that are hateful and mean - even if anything good or evil penetrates the dead, it must be something weak and negligible, either in itself or for them or if not, at least it must be such in degree and kind as not to make happy those who are not happy nor to take away their blessedness from those who are - the good or bad fortunes of friends seem to have some effects on the dead, but effects of such a kind and degree as neither to make the happy unhappy nor to produce any other change of the kind - everything that is praised seems to be praised because it is of a certain kind and is related somehow to something else o for we praise the just or brave man and in general both the good man and virtue itself because of the actions an functions involved o this is clear also from the praises of the gods; for it seems absurd that the gods should be referred to our standard, but this is done because praise involves a reference, to something else o what applies to the best things is not praise, but something greater and better….for what we do to the gods and the most godlike of men is to call them blessed and happy. And so too with good things; no one praises happiness as he does justice, but rather calls it blessed, as being something more divine and better - happiness is among the things that are prized and perfect. It seems to be so also from the fact that it is a first principle; for it is for the sake of this that we all do all that we do, and the first principle and cause of goods is, we claim, something prized and divine Page 43 - the true student of politics, too, is thought to have studied virtue above all things; for he wishes to make hi
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