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[Aristotle,_Roger_Crisp]_Nicomachean_Ethics_(Cambr(BookFi)

Introduction

Introduction Aristotle does not himself always keep to this method. Sometimes he just offers argument, without reference to the views of the many or the wise, and this argument may make use of technical notions of his own. But even here his conclusions are occasionally tested at the bars of philosophy and of common sense. In I.7, 1098a, for example, Aristotle concludes, using the notion of a human's `characteristic activity' arrived at via an argument by elimination, that happiness consists in the exercise of virtue. This conclusion is then tested in the following chapter, where he ®nds it to be consistent with long-standing philosophical views about happiness, and to include elements of common conceptions of happiness, such as pleasure. It might be thought that Aristotle's method is implicitly conservative, because it puts so much weight on already existing views. But he is in fact quite prepared to go beyond these views. His positions on happiness, for example, or on democracy are quite radical. Aristotle's method is not based on mere attachment to the way things are, but on a teleological conception of humanity as functionally directed towards inquiry and the truth. Happiness The ®rst chapter of what is now seen as one of the most signi®cant works of moral philosophy in the twentieth century, W. D. Ross's The Right and the Good, is called `The Meaning of the Right'. 3 Ross was a great Aristotelian scholar, but his primary interest in ethics was right action. The ®rst sentence of Aristotle's Ethics, however, concerns the good, and it soon becomes clear that his focus is initially on the nature of the human good, or human happiness (eudaimonia). This is indeed typical of ancient Greek ethics, and it raises the question whether such ethics, by concerning itself at the start with the agent's own good, is egoistic. Aristotle's ethics is not egoistic in the sense of advocating constant, self-conscious, deliberate self-seeking behaviour. According to Aristotle, you should be concerned about your friend for his sake, i.e., not for yours. But there is nothing in Aristotelian ethics inconsistent with the idea that all your reasons for action, or for living a certain kind of life or for being a certain kind of person, 3 W. D. Ross, The Right and the Good (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1930). x

Introduction ultimately rest on the advancement of your own good. Nowhere in Aristotle is there a recommendation of any kind of genuine selfsacri®ce. There has been a tendency in modern ethics to concentrate on actions. Ancient writers clearly thought about right action, but were more ready to discuss lives as a whole. In I.5, 1095b, Aristotle introduces a standard trichotomy: the lives of grati®cation, politics, and study. He rules out the ®rst as bestial and unworthy of a human being. The life of politics he takes more seriously, though he is at pains to stress that its aim should not be honour or even virtue (because one can be virtuous without what really matters, viz., the doing of virtuous actions). Aristotle also rules out the life of business, since money is merely instrumental to other goods. Aristotle believed that the good should be attainable in ordinary human activity, and spends a chapter (I.6) dismissing the Platonic idea of the `Form' of the good as something independent of such activity. There is a difference between the concept of happiness, and various conceptions of it. If you and I are having a discussion about what human happiness consists in, we use the same concept of happiness. That is, we attach roughly the same sense to the word `happiness', and it is this that enables us to engage in discussion. But we may well have different conceptions, that is, views about what happiness actually consists in. In his account, Aristotle moves between spelling out the implications of the concept, which he believes put constraints on any plausible conception, and offering arguments for his own conception of happiness itself. In an important chapter, I.7, Aristotle tells us that happiness is `complete'. Since the beginning of the book, he has been constructing hierarchies of activities and specialisms. Bridle-making, because it is merely instrumental to horsemanship, is less complete than horsemanship. But horsemanship is instrumental to the end of military science, and so subordinate in turn to it. In general, Aristotle says, instrumental goods are inferior to goods which are both good in themselves and instrumental to some other good. The most complete (or most ®nal, or most perfect) good is that which is not instrumental to any other good, and is good in itself. Such is happiness. The same follows from the notion of `self-suf®ciency'. This notion was popular in philosophical discussions of Aristotle's time. According to Aristotle's use of it here, something is self-suf®cient `which on its xi

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    Book I contrary to what people thin

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    Book I indeed, in that political sc

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    Book II Chapter 1 Virtue, then, is

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    Book II start, the accounts we dema

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    Book II choice, because what is nob

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    Book II feelings (the person who is

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    Book II For good people are just go

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    Book II honour, sometimes the one w

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    Book II osity. The greatest dissimi

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    Book III Chapter 1 Since virtue is

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    Book III pleasant or noble do so wi

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    Book III closely tied to virtue, an

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    Book III do; this is what remains.

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    Book III the individual it is the a

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    Book III the start it was open to t

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    Book III money in good heart. Nor i

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    Book III of a coward; for it is sof

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    Book III and to be courage if it is

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    Book III A distinction should be dr

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    Book III enjoy things more than mos

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    Book III harmony with reason; for t

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    Book IV giving, while taking and ke

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    Book IV he can be cheated, since he

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    Book IV Both, then, because they wi

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    Book IV weddings and suchlike; and

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    Book IV goes to excess in relation

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    Book IV towards people at the middl

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    Book IV nameless, it seems as if th

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    Book IV serious, and very much so i

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    Book IV while the dissemblers are b

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    Book IV make himself. He will not,

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    Book V Chapter 1 We must consider j

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    Book V Justice in this sense, then,

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    Book V and similarly what is just a

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    Book V part. But this proportion is

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    Book V party with more, and add to

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    Book V from the fact that whenever

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    Book V namely, honour and privilege

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    Book V one of the people present, a

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    Book V involuntary, as acting unjus

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    Book V that justice is an easy matt

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    Book V the equitable person is. He

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    Book VI Chapter 1 Since we have alr

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    Book VI practical. Such thought gov

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    Book VI and its contrary, lack of s

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    Book VI some people we think are wi

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    Book VI science, the latter being s

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    Book VI must ®rst inquire into the

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    Book VI the last. The intellect rel

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    Book VI Practical wisdom is not the

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    Book VII Chapter 1 Next we must mak

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    Book VII on the supposition that he

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    Book VII the same or different? Sim

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    Book VII The explanation of how the

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    Book VII children or parents; for t

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    Book VII with the same things as in

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    Book VII to those that most people

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    Book VII thus like a disease such a

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    Book VII who does something for the

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    Book VII happiness involves pleasur

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    Book VII The fact that no pleasure

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    Book VII states and processes, ther

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    Book VIII Chapter 1 After this, the

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    Book VIII Chapter 2 Perhaps the mat

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    Book VIII another's company, since

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    Book VIII true friendship that they

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    Book VIII since one ®nds more of a

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    Book VIII goods, though presumably

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    Book VIII differs as well, and the

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    Book VIII superior. Sometimes, howe

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    Book VIII or to a lesser degree. Pa

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    Book VIII Nor are complaints genera

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    Book VIII thinking it is characteri

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    Book IX wished, then that would hav

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    Book IX when he lent to you as some

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    Book IX Chapter 4 The origin of rel

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    Book IX Chapter 5 Goodwill seems to

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    Book IX Chapter 7 Benefactors seem

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    Book IX all to a person's relation

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    Book IX being self-suf®cient, need

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    Book IX or think); and if perceivin

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    Book IX But it is nobler in good fo

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    Book X Chapter 1 After this our nex

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    Book X choice with the addition of

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    Book X Against those who bring up d

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    Book X be so described, but only wh

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    Book X This is even more evident fr

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    Book X Chapter 6 Now that we have d

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    Book X and its objects are the high

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    Book X practical wisdom, since the

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    Book X done what he regarded as the

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    Book X heed necessity rather than a

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    Book X cians? For we did think that

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    Glossary Many of the English words

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    Glossary kalos noble. Alternative t

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    Index activity, 206 distinct from c

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    Index between master and slave, 158

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    Index Scythians, 42, 132 self-love,

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    Malebranche The Search after Truth

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