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From Homer to Aristotle and the Nicomachean Ethics

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Amy Antoninka

on 31 March 2015

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Transcript of From Homer to Aristotle and the Nicomachean Ethics

Raphael's "School of Athens"
Anaxagoras
Anaximander
Epicurus
Hypatia
Parmenides
Heraclitus
Pythagoras
Agathon
Alcibiades
Xenophon
Diogenes
Homer
Milesians: Materialists (arche - origin - of everything is matter)
Thales (water),
Anaximander (hot, cold, dry, wet), and
Anaximenes (vapor)
Pluralists (more than one arche)
Empedocles - four elements
Anaxagoras - nous, mind
Eleatic School: (nothing has come into being, it has always been)
Xenophanes, Parmenides and Zeno of Elea
Atomists (everything composed of indivisible atoms, or is void)
Leucippus and Democritus
Pre-socratics:
apply a rational and scientific
order to the world
Pythagoreans (harmony through mathematics)
Akousmatikoi - those who followed the things heard (akousmata)
Mathematikoi -those who practiced the mathematical aspect
Heraclitus (rejected idea of harmony, "All is flux.")

GLORY!!!!!!!!!!!!
Fame (kleos)
Cunning
Circumspect
ideal citizen
wealth and property
filial piety
The Sophists:
gave training in the skill of rhetoric
rises with move to Democracy in Athens
Gorgias: "The orator has the ablility to speak against everyone on every subject, so as in gatherings to be more persuasive, in short, about anythink he likes."
(Plato's Gorgias 457a-b)
Protagoras: "What I teach is sound deliberation, both in domestic matters-how best to manage one's household, and in public affairs-how to realize one's maximum potential for success in political debate and action."
(Plato's Protagoras 319a)
courage in the face of destruction
ARETE -excellence in word and deed
loyalty
devotion to the gods/piety
hospitality (xenia)
physical strength and excellence
honor / time
Aristotle
Natural Science
Rhetoric
Ethics
Politics
Metaphysics
Physics
Biology
Geology
ethos
pathos
logos
eudiamonia
the mean
justice
friendship
habit
ergon
first principles
theology
causality
rhetoric
ethics
polis
government
justice
eudiamonia
"Rhetoric may be defined as the faculty of observing in any given case the available arguments....It thus appears that rhetoric is an offshoot of dialectic and also of ethical studies. Ethical studies may fairly be called political....

"The use of persuasive speech is to lead to decisions." That is, rhetoric's purpose is to make people good citizens.

Aristotle's Rhetoric 1355b27-28, 1356a26-28, 1391b7
virtue
the
city

the
soul

“Our present discussion does not aim, as our others do, at study; for the purpose of our examination is not to know what virtue is, but to become good, since otherwise the inquiry would be of no benefit to us.” (II.2.1, 1103b26-30)
The Purpose of the Ethics
The Aim of Action
“Every craft and every line of inquiry, and likewise every action and decision, seems to seek some good; that is why some people were right to describe the good as what everything seeks.

"But the ends [that are sought] appear to differ; some activities, ad others are products apart from the activities. Wherever there are ends apart from the actions the products are by nature better than the activities.” (I.1.1 1094a1-7)
All things aim at some end (telos)
Everything seeks the good
Distinction between two kinds of ends
“Suppose, then, that the things achievable by action have some end that we wish for because of itself, and because of which we wish for the other things, and that we do not choose everything because of something else--for if we do, it will go on without limit, so that desire will prove to be empty and futile. Clearly, this end will be the good, that is to say, the best good.” (I.2.1 1094a18-23)
Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Goods

Final Ends – ends sought for their own sake
Instrumental (Intermediate) Ends – ends sought for the sake of something else
Two Kinds of Ends
The Highest Human End
"What, then, is the good of each action or craft? Surely it is that for the sake of which the other things are done. [... B]ut in every action and decision it is the end, since it is for the sake of the end that everyone does the other actions. And so, if there is some end of everything achievable in action, the good achievable in action will be this end." 1.7, 1097a15-24

Happiness is an intrinsic good
How do most people conceive of happiness?
Eudaimonia:
Defining Happiness
“An activity of the soul in conformity with perfect virtue…” 1.9.7 1099b26-28
From where does Aristotle get this definition?
What must we understand in order to make sense of this definition?
The Happy Human Soul 
Object
Function
Virtue
Flourishing
knife
human being
(ergon – action or work, related to energeia)

(excellence – arête)
(eudaimonia)
Parts of the Soul I.13
Rational
Nonrational
Vegetative
nutrition * growth
sleeping * eating
Appetitive
desires * emotions * appetites
But listens to reason.
What is Virtue?
How do we normally think of virtue?
Aristotle believes that there are two main categories of virtue that stem from two parts of the soul
Intellectual = virtue of thought
Moral = virtue of character
How are these attained?
Intellectual – teaching
Moral – habituation
What part of the soul do they come from?
Intellectual – Rational
Moral - Nonrational
Two Kinds of Virtue
“Virtue, then, is of two sorts, virtue of thought and virtue of character. Virtue of thought arises and grows mostly from teaching; and that is why it needs experience and time. Virtue of character results from habit." II.1.1 1103a15-18
Parts of the Soul 1.3
Rational
Nonrational
Vegetative
nutrition * growth
sleeping * eating
Appetitive
desires * emotions
Gives rise to intellectual virtues acquired through education
Gives rise to intellectual virtues acquired through education
Virtue and the Soul
“This shows, too, that none of the moral virtues is implanted in us by nature, for nothing which exists by nature can be changed by habit…Thus, the virtues are implanted in us neither by nature nor contrary to nature: we are by nature equipped with the ability to receive them, and habit brings this ability to completion and fulfillment.”
Defining Moral Virtue
“By virtue I mean virtue of character; for this is about feelings and actions, and these admit of excess and deficiency...." II.6.10 1106b25-29

"Virtue, then, is a state that decides, consisting in a mean, the mean relative to us, which is defined by reference to reason, that is to say, to the reason by reference to which the prudent person would define it. It is a mean between two vices, one of excess and one of deficiency.” II.6.15 1107a1-4
How do we know what the mean is according to Aristotle?
Aristotle’s Particularism
What is Moral Virtue?
What is the difference between a virtue and and an emotion?
How can we tell if someone is virtuous?
Virtue is a deeply engrained character trait
It is acquired through repeated action
Virtue regulates and gives rise to emotions and actions
They will respond in appropriate ways
Their action will be intentional and chosen for the right reasons
They feel the appropriate pleasures and pains
Human Function (Gr. ergon – work, task, deed, action)
Empirical Observation
Doxa - common opinion
Activity (Energeia, from ergon) – why does our happiness consist in activity(s)? What kind of activity is peculiar to human beings?
Soul (Psykhe ) – anything that is alive has a soul. The soul is the essence of a particular thing
Virtue (Aretê;) – excellence; the quality that makes something function (ergon) well
We are not born with virtue but with the natural potential (dynamis - power) to be virtuous
We must actualize (energeia – activity) this potential in order to become virtuous
Virtue is a character trait
Virtue is a choice
Virtue is a relative mean between two vices, one of excess and one of deficiency
Virtue is defined by a rational principle
The mean is relative to us; it is agent-centered
Different activities have different ends:
medicine health
shipbuilding ships

Is there an end that we seek just for itself?
Politics and Ethics

"For even if the the good is the same for a city as for an individual, still the good of the city is apparently a greater and more complete good to acquire and preserve it for a people and for cities. And so, since our line of inquiry seeks these [goods for an individual and for a community], it is a sort of political science." (I.2.8 1094b 8-12)
Who can study ethics and politics?

The young?
No
lack experience
emotional
needs to be trained in virtue
needs reason to order desires
What are Aristotle's main concerns?
How knowledge and reason can provide a framework to think about human living
focuses on "common sense" notions of moral awareness
He sees a consensus among the community about morality
Starts from a study of human character, ethos
How humans ought to behave relates to what makes a human a human
What is a human? How are humans distinct from other creatures?
Greek identity was caught up in identification with the polis (the city)
Humans are political animals
What makes individuals good, makes communities good; and, the good of the community makes individuals good.
Ethics isn't an exact science, it relies on observation
Major Questions of Book 1:
What is the chief, or highest, good?
What are humans really aiming at in their lives?
What motivates human action?
Politics and Living: 3 Kinds of Lives (1.5, 1095b12-1096a11)
1. The life of pleasure = a life of gratification, vulgar, fit only for animals
2. The life of honor = a political life, depends on others to give honor
3. The life of contemplation = a life of intellectual virtue
What is the best good? How can we know?
1. It is complete (final or perfect)
2. Self-sufficient
3. Choice worthy
Eudaimonia:
Living and doing well
Human flourishing
"To sum it up in a single account: a state [of character] results from [the repetition of] similar activities."
II.1.8 1103b21-22
actions must be done to the RIGHT PERSON
actions must be done in the RIGHT AMOUNT
actions must be done for the RIGHT REASONS
must avoid excesses and deficiencies
must keep the emotions in check
virtue needs to give us pleasure II.3
action must be done in the RIGHT STATE
one must know that they are doing right
actions must be done in the RIGHT WAY
actions must be done at the RIGHT TIME II.4, II.9
FEELING

1. fear and confidence

2. pleasure and pain

3. giving and taking money

4. giving and taking money

5. honor and dishonor

6. honor and dishonor

7. anger

8. self-expression

9. conversation

10. social conduct

11. shame

12. indignation
EXCESS

cowardly (RE: fear)/rash (RE: confidence

intemperance

wasteful

ostentatious

vanity

honor-lover

irascible

boastful

buffoonery

ingratiating

ashamed of everything
envious
MEAN

brave

temperance

generous

magnificence

magnanimity

no name

mild

truthful

witty

friendly

proper shame

proper indignation
DEFICIENCY

cowardly

insensible

ungenerous

stinginess

pusillanimity

indifferent

inirascible

self-deprecating

boorish

ill-tempered

no disgrace

spiteful
The Particular Virtues of Character
Voluntary and Involuntary Action
How do we decide if someone is worthy of praise or blame?
Voluntary
willingly done
involuntary
ignorance
force (agent contributes nothing)
mixed
fear of greater evil
decision
not an appetite (which is based on pleasure or pain)
not a wish (since we can wish for impossible things)
"what we think would come about through our own agency" III.2.8 1111b25-27
not belief (divided into good and bad not true and false)
related to actions (to DO good or to DO bad actions)
deliberation
not about eternal things (Necessity)
not about the natural order of the world (nature)
not about what happens in different ways at different times (fortune)
"we deliberate about what is up to us, that is to say, about actions we can do" III.3.7 1112a31-33
about how to act when the "right way" isn't defined
about how to achieve goals (ends)
"all deliberation is inquiry" III.3.11 1112b21-22
"We have found, then, that we wish for the end, and deliberate and decide about things that promote it; hence the actions concerned with things that promote the end are in accord with decision and are voluntary. The activities of the virtues are concerned about these things.

"Hence virtue is also up to us, and so also, in the same way, is vice." III.5.1-2 1113b1-8
groups
1. Discuss the virtue of bravery (III6-9)
What does it look like?
confidence or fearlessness in the face of danger - physical or mental
How do we differentiate between bravery and other similar qualities?
must be for its own sake, not for honor, must be done because you want to do
How does a brave person feel?
passionate, motivated by a zeal for virtue
have fear but act appropriately
Who is brave in our society?
anyone who puts themselves in danger for the greater good
must evaluate the situation
Do we view bravery the same as
our notion is broader
brave can apply to more subjects with respect to money, ideas, science

2. Discuss the virtue of temperance (III10-12)
What does it look like?
having the proper restraint RE pleasures, such as any base desire (food, sleep, sex?)
How do we differentiate between temperance and other similar qualities?
How does a temperate person feel?
feel content and satisfied
How is temperance related to bravery?
both based on non rational processes( e.g. fear/bravery, desire/temperance)
Do we view temperance the same as Aristotle?
we value moderation

3. discuss the virtue of magnanimity (IV 3)
What does it look like?
when you do something honorable and know you deserve praise for it
and you take the honor due you but not more or less
about self- knowledge
what are the excess and deficiency of it?
someone who seeks praise
someone who is self-deprecating
How does Aristotle say it relates to the other virtues?
related to truthfulness, bravery, in fact, to all the virtues
it's the crown of the virtues
Does our society value something like magnanimity?
divided: PEOPLE WANT TO acknowledge GOOD THINGS; BUT PEOPLE DO GOOD THINGS TO GET ATTENTION, not just because it's the right thing to do
Oprah
Who is magnanimous in our society?
volunteers, people who give behind the scenes
people who do something because it's the right thing to do and because they get pleasure from it
people who go above and beyond the call without making a big deal about it

4. Discuss the virtue of truthfulness
what does it look like?
the truth can hurt people if you're too straightforward, but you can also hurt people if you don't tell them the truth
it's a relational virtue; you must evaluate what the relationship is to determine what the proper truthfulness will be in that situation
won't destroy their reputation or anyone else's
it can bring you pain
what are its excess and deficiency?
not speaking up; or being blunt to the point of rudeness; respect or disrespect
How does it relate to honor?
you must earn trust to be respected
How does our society view truthfulness?
media tells you what you want to hear, uses gossip, but the news should inform you based on facts
ex. running for office need to be truthful about what you are going to do, must follow up with action, but you do get credit for acting even if you don't succeed; but you mustn't give up
Who is truthful in our society?
no one!!!!!!! no one likes people who are truthful all the time; we want convenient truth; people also may refuse to hear truths about oneself
List some activities that you do.
Pick one.
I. Explore the value of this activity as a means to an end. Why do you do it? Do you do it because it leads to something else you value? If so, then write down the value of this activity as a means to an end--its instrumental value.
If you value the activity mostly as a means to something else, is that next goal an instrumental or intrinsic good for you? If the next goal is mostly a means to something else, what is the still further goal? Keep writing down goods until you come to something with intrinsic value to you.

II. Explore the value of this activity as something worthwhile in itself. Is this activity of intrinsic value to you? If so, try to put this value into words.
Is this activity part of a happy life? Say why.

1. Discuss the virtue of bravery (III6-9)
What does it look like?
How do we differentiate between bravery and other similar qualities?
How does a brave person feel?
Who is brave in our society?
Do we view bravery the same as Aristotle?

2. Discuss the virtue of temperance (III10-12)
What does it look like?
How do we differentiate between temperance and other similar qualities?
How does a temperate person feel?
How is temperance related to bravery?
Do we view temperance the same as Aristotle?

3. Discuss the virtue of magnanimity (IV 3)
What does it look like?
What are the excess and deficiency of it?
How does Aristotle say it relates to the other virtues?
Does our society value something like magnanimity?
Who is magnanimous in our society?

4. Discuss the virtue of truthfulness (IV 7)
What does it look like?
What are its excess and deficiency?
How does it relate to honor?
How does our society view truthfulness?
Who is truthful in our society?
Groups
Cutting
Rational activity
sharpness
a host of virtues (intellectual and moral)
the knife is not happy, but it is flourishing because it is fulfilling its function
happiness = rational activity of the soul in accordance with virtue
Two kinds of activity:
Sophia: scientific reasoning and pure contemplation
Phronesis: calculative and deliberative reasoning
Gives rise to intellectual virtues acquired through education
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