Nicomachean Ethics – Books I – III

We had a great phone conversation – and before that e-mail dialogue about Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics Books I – III.

To download the mp3 
audio click here:

We had a great dialogue about whether:

– virtue and “good” are habits or intentions (Aristotle says they are habits)
– happiness is a “final good” – what Aristotle means by that and how 21st century westerners might understand the word “happiness” differently (i.e. Aristotle seems to say that happiness is objective and not subjective inner state as we modernists believe)
– individual and community – and how Aristotle’s emphasis seems to be on community
– the connections to prior texts we’ve read like Plato (whom Aristotle attacks directly in Book I) and Herodotus (especially the story of Solon and Croesus)
– the power of reading an ethical text that is not spiritual – i.e. many group members remarked that they found it interesting to read a philosophical treatment of ethics

See the comments below for the pre-phone call e-mail dialogue.

Thanks to HiDefConferencing, Citrix Online and Constant Contact for sponsoring our reading groups and making possible the phone calls and recordings!

Thanks,

Phil 
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One Response to Nicomachean Ethics – Books I – III

  1. June 10, 2009 at 10:56 AM says:

    <p>Thank you for this vigorous e-mail dialogue before our call. </p><p>Let me throw out some fun and serious questions to think about:</p><p>- Can you cite the passage where Aristotle directly (first) attacks Plato? (for those of you who read Plato last year). Hint: it’s in the first book of our reading.</p><p>- Can you cite the passage where Aristotle refers to an important story in Book 1 of Herodotus? Hint: He does not reference Herodotus by name. Hint: Tim references it indirectly in his comments below.</p><p>- Does Aristotle successfully prove that happiness is the final good?</p><p>- Activity – a lot of the dialogue in this e-mail exchange has been about activity – and acts or actions. What do you believe? Is action or intention more important?</p><p>- Earlier in our reading – in "On the Soul" – Aristotle talks about wisdom as a habit. He again references habits here. What’s up with habits? As Bruce points out "ethos" root means habit. What does A mean? Do you agree?</p><p>- How does Aristotle define virtue? Does he prove virtues are states of character?</p><p>- Aristotle makes an interesting yet subtle point about precision is not needed in the same way in every case. What do you think about that statement? This will later play an important role in Barry Schwartz’s interpretation of A’s Ethics. Is Jennifer right? Is Aristotle trying to bring a mathematical precision to the question of ethics?</p><p>- What would modern psychologists say about Aristotle’s statement that "shame is not a virtue." page 961. Shame is a major part of depression and modern psychology. Some people wear shame almost as a badge of honor. What would Aristotle say to them? Later Aristotle says self-indulgence is more a voluntary state. Is there a relationship here in his thinking?</p><p>- Is moral virtue a mean? Is it an average between extremes? Is Aristotle taking the position that virtue is a compromise? Moderation?</p><p>- What do you think about Aristotle’s dialogue about voluntary vs. involuntary? is this the basis of modern legal standards concerning involuntary manslaughter? How does Aristotle’s thinking still inform our daily life?</p><p>- Choice. Barry Schwartz, our speaker in September who has studied closely our reading, also wrote a book called "Paradox of Choice" What does Aristotle say about choice? About choice and wish? </p><p>- Magnificence. Hedy – do you agree that "the magnificent man is like an artist." (in book IV – you may not have gotten there yet).</p><p>- How would you summarize Aristotle’s logic throughout these readings? Tim refers below to the sequence of our readings. Are you compelled by how Aristotle thinks? Do you believe it may inform our culture today and widely-held assumptions or beliefs? Has Aristotle brought objectivity to "virtuousity" as Ravi says below?</p><p>Phil </p>

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