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Introduction basis of

Introduction basis of their shared humanity (VIII.1, 1155a). And the crown of the virtues for Aristotle is a distinctly unmodern and pre-Christian disposition, greatness of soul (IV.3), which consists in thinking oneself worthy of great things and being concerned almost entirely with honour. The great-souled person is unlikely to stir himself to help the vulnerable. Aristotle's discussions may be tabulated as follows: Virtue Sphere Discussion in NE Courage Fear and con®dence III.6±9 Temperance Bodily pleasure and pain III.10±12 Generosity Giving and retaining money IV.1 Magni®cence Giving and retaining money on IV.2 a large scale Greatness of soul Honour on a large scale IV.3 [Nameless] Honour on a small scale IV.4 Even temper Anger IV.5 Friendliness Social relations IV.6 Truthfulness Honesty about oneself IV.7 Wit Conversation IV.8 Justice Distribution V Friendship Personal relations VIII±IX Aristotle also brie¯y discusses shame, which he says is not really a virtue, and appropriate indignation. Another difference between Aristotle and modern theorists of the virtues is his objective notion of happiness. The idea that there is some universal account of well-being, especially one grounded in human nature, is denied by most important modern writers who otherwise see themselves as returning to Aristotle. Likewise, none of them goes as far as to identify happiness with the exercise of the virtues. It is also important to remember the context in which Aristotle composed his lectures. He was writing two and a half millennia ago, for noblemen in a city-state of tens of thousands. He believed such a city to be the best form of human society, and might well have thought it absurd even to attempt carrying across his conclusions about happiness in such a polity to what he would have seen as highly degenerate nationstates. It is not, in other words, a good idea to claim Aristotle as an ally in a modern debate the very assumptions of which he might have xviii

Introduction questioned. Rather, he should be read, carefully and sensitively, with an understanding of historical, social, and political context, as one of the best sources of insight into the human ethical condition available to us. Voluntariness and responsibility Though the Ethics forms separate books, the themes of the books are closely connected. We have already seen that Aristotle identi®es happiness with virtuous activity. He recognizes next that virtuous actions are praised, and vicious actions blamed, only when they are voluntary. So the discussion of voluntariness in III.1±5 should not be seen as a general disquisition on free will. We should also remember Aristotle's audience, many of whom might have hoped for careers in legislation. For them, Aristotle thought, it was important to understand what is, and what is not, to be rewarded and punished. Aristotle begins by identifying two excusing conditions, ignorance and force, which have remained central in philosophical and legal accounts of responsibility (III.1, 1110a±b). Here he was himself in¯uenced by the Athenian legal system already in operation. In a case of force, the `®rst principle' or source of the action is external to the agent. Thus, I might say that I am going to Egypt, even when being carried there against my will by the wind. An obvious question here is whether this account of force is too narrow, and whether there may not be cases of inner compulsion. It is partly re¯ecting upon this question that leads Aristotle into a discussion of what he calls `mixed actions'. An example is a captain's throwing cargo overboard to stop his ship going down: he might well claim, in mitigation, that he had no choice. Aristotle here sticks to his guns. The source of the action is internal, and so it is voluntary. But he does allow that in a sense such actions are, understood `without quali®cation', involuntary: they are the sorts of thing no one would choose voluntarily in themselves. This is really a new sense of involuntariness, but no confusion need arise if we take Aristotle to be saying merely that throwing cargo overboard is not the sort of thing that someone chooses in itself. He does, however, go on to soften the force criterion a little: there are some things that are too much for a human being, such as severe torture, where pardon rather than blame is called for. Besides voluntariness and involuntariness, Aristotle suggests a third xix

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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 towards people at the middl

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    Book IV nameless, it seems as if th

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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 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 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 IX when he lent to you as some

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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 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 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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