ARISTOTLE: NICOMACHEAN ETHICS

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Aristotle
Student of Plato, expert in biology, physics, metaphysics politics, ethics
Nicomachean Ethics
How can we live the best life?
VIRTUE ETHICS
Teleological --aims at a final purpose

Action---->end

everything we do aims at some end
some ends are subordinate to others
---this means that our world is made up of of many possible actions and possible purposes

ex.) attending this class on this day vs. finishing college
the explanation of phenomena by the purpose they serve rather than by postulated causes.
If there are many smaller goods that all aim toward something then there must also be a highest good towards which everything strives...
HAPPINESS
Political Science

1.) the city is the controlling power
2.) The structure of the city parallels the heirarchy of the gods
Political science is the highest of the sciences and there fore everything else is subordinate to it

The study of the Good is part of political science, because politics concerns itself with securing the highest ends for human life. Politics is not a precise science, since what is best for one person may not be best for another. Consequently, we can aim at only a rough outline of the Good.
Parallel between city structure and the structure of ends
Action ---> end --------------> highest good

individual (goal of survival)---> family---> community of people----> city

City=highest amount of progress, efficiency, more free time, more balanced, highest goal
"For even if the good is the same for the city as for the individual, still the good of the city is apparently a greater and more complete good to acquire and preserve"
Holy Cross=city state ---doesnt rely on one individual

if we are having a bad day it doesn't effect it...

if we aim for the happiness of the city we are indirectly aiming for the happiness of the individual

A good city>A good individual

the examination of the highest good is a political science
METHODOLOGY ***
"and so, since this is our subject and these are our premises, we shall be satisfied to indicate the truth roughly and in outline.. for the educated person seeks exactness in each area to the extent that the nature of the subject allows"

--relative to every person/outline since every situation/environment is different
HIGHEST GOOD: HAPPINESS

Eudaimonia: Flourishing
If you have happiness that depends on outside sources you are not flourishing
Three kinds of lives
1.) Life of gratification/pleasure
ex.) drug addict.. completely determined on outside factors so you cannot flourish

2.) Life of political activity
ex.) life is dependent on someone else so no

3.) Life of contemplation
the people are removing themselves from the culture
Critique of Plato's forms
Plato though that there is a single idea of the good and that once you know what that is --you will always do it. Any bad action is because of ignorance
ex.) plagiarism, rape
HAPPINESS IS COMPLETE AND SELF-SUFFICIENT
"Now happiness, more than anything else, seems complete without qualification. For we always choose it because of itself, never because of something else.

"We regard something as self-sufficient when all by itself it makes a life choice worthy and lacking nothing; and that is what we think happiness does."
TYPES OF GOODS (3)
1.) External goods ex. clothes, car

2.) Goods of the soul ex. art, music

3.) Goods of the body ex.) food, health, sex
ELITISM
--A youth is not a suitable student of political science; for he lacks experience of the actions in life
--Deprivation of..good birth, good children, beauty-- mars our blessedness. For we do not altogether have the character of happiness if we look utterly repulsive or all ill-born, solitary, or childless
(these types of people will be jealous and never be happy)
--A child is not happy either, since his age prevents him from doing these sorts of actions
(when you're not self-sufficient you can't flourish)
Solon's Paradox
If happiness is a state and not a moment, can we count ourselves happy before we die?
--Could be flourishing right now but if I get diagnosed with a terminal illness I'm not flourishing.. so we have to wait until we die
the highest end (Telos) is..
happiness (eudaemonia/flourishing) is the highest end which all of our actions aim to...

We ensure our happiness by fulfilling our unique human function (ergon) to the best of our ability (arete)

Happiness is the ultimate telos because there is no further telos beyond happiness and because the ultimate goal of all our other activities is happiness.
What is the unique function of human beings?
The use of reason..

"We have found, then, that the human function is the activity of the soul in accordance with reason or requiring reason"

*your reason gives you the rational option
Virtue of character

--The human function is activity of the soul in accordance with virtue
"virtue of character results from habit.. and so the virtues arise in us neither by nature nor against nature. Rather, we are by nature able to acquire them, and we are completed through habit"

to get a good character you have to do good things habitually
Habituation

ex.) you aren't a hero because you do one heroic thing
"For what we do in our dealings with other people makes some of us just, some unjust, what we do in terrifying situations makes some of us brave and others cowardly"

To sum it up: A state of character results from the repetition of similar activities

***You are what you do
Doing just actions---> <---- being just
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What is virtue?
"First, then, we should observe that these sorts of virtues naturally tend to be ruined by excess and deficiency"

"For if, for instance, someone avoids and it afraid of everything, standing firm against nothing, he becomes cowardly; if he is afraid of nothing at all and goes to face everything, he becomes rash"
----Using rationality we will all come to some mean virtuous action versus virtuous character
Three requirements for an action/character to be considered virtuous
1.) First, he must know that he is doing virtuous actions
2.) He must decide on them for themselves
3.) He must do them from a firm, unchanging state
Having a virtuous character
"By virtue I mean virtue of character and this is proper to virtue"
---have right amount of emotions in right times
Practical Wisdom
Our reason is a muscle we have to exercise
---think of what a rational person would do in a situation
NOT relativist: Approach any situation we can all decide same mean..? mean changes by who is involved*
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Note:**Once a person has died, according to Aristotle, posthumous honors or dishonors and the behavior of his descendants might affect his happiness somewhat, but to no great extent.
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Happiness consists of a certain way of life, not of certain dispositions. In saying that happiness is an energeia, Aristotle contrasts happiness with virtue, which he considers a hexis, or state of being. Possessing all the right virtues disposes a person to live well, while happiness is the activity of living well, which the virtuous person is inclined toward.
--the good life is not an end state that we achieve but rather a way of life that we live.

--To live "in accordance with virtue," then, is to live in such a way that our activities flow naturally from a virtuous disposition.
Everything exists for a purpose, and the purpose of human life is to develop and exercise our rational soul. Consequently, a human can "be human" well by developing reason in the way that a flutist can be a good flutist by developing skill with the flute.
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ETHICS OF RELATIONSHIPS****
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Aristotle on virtue:
Virtue is "a state that decides, consisting in a mean, the mean relative to us, one of excess and one of deficiency"

excess--------mean------deficiency
Friendship-Virtue
"Friendship is a virtue, or involves virtue. Further, it is most necessary for our life. For no one would choose to live without friends even if he had all the other goods."

"Moreover, friendship should hold cities together, and legislators would seem to be more concerned about it than justice."
**city flourishes when there are more friendships
Requirements of Friendship
"To a friend it is said, you must wish goods for his own sake. If you wish good things in his way, but the same wish is not returned by the other, you would be said to has only goodwill for the other. For friendship is reciprocated goodwill.

--Cant be friends with parents because you are underdeveloped.. can't be friends with inanimate objets
Three types of friendships
Friendship of Utility
ex.) friends just for their car so you can get a ride home

Friendship of Pleasure
ex.) Friends w/ benefits

True/Complete Friendship
"the friendship of good people similar in virtue; for they wish goods in the same way insofar as they are good and they are good in their own right, hence they wish goods to each other for each other's own sake."
Friendship as a state
"Loving would seem to be a feeling, but friendship is a STATE. For loving is directed no less towards inanimate things, but reciprocal loving requires decision and decision comes from a state; and good people wish good to the beloved for his own sake in accord with their state, not their feeling"

**If you base your relationship on feeling then they will not flourish and neither will you... you have to base it on state
Aristotle explains that friendship is the act of loving rather than the act of being loved. It is important that friendship be active, since Aristotle treats friendship as an energeia, akin to pleasure and happiness. Friendship is one of the essential components of the good life, and the value of friendship is in having and enjoying it.
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