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Nicomachean Ethics characters arise from our rationally choosing what is good and bad, not from having certain beliefs. And what we rationally choose is to obtain or avoid something good or bad, while we hold beliefs about what that is, whom it bene®ts, or in what way; we never really believe to obtain or avoid things. And rational choice is praised for its being of what is right rather than for its being correct, while belief is praised for being true. And we rationally choose what we best know to be good, while we hold beliefs about what we do not know at all to be good. And it appears as well that it is not the same people who are best at rationally choosing and at believing: some seem quite good at believing, but through vice choose what they should not. Whether belief is prior to rational choice or accompanies it makes no difference, because it is not this we are considering, but whether it is the same as some species of belief. Given that it is none of the things we have mentioned, what is it, then, or what sort of thing is it? It is obviously something voluntary, but not everything that is voluntary is an object of rational choice. Well, is it what has been decided by prior deliberation? For rational choice does involve reason and thought, and its name (prohairesis) too seems to signify something that is chosen (haireton) before (pro) other things. Chapter 3 Do people deliberate about everything, and is everything an object of deliberation, or is there no deliberation about some things? Presumably, we ought to describe as an object of deliberation what a sane person would deliberate about, not some fool or lunatic. No one deliberates about eternal things, such as the universe, or the fact that the diagonal is incommensurable with the side; nor things that involve movement but always happen in the same way, either from necessity or by nature or through some other cause, such as the solstices or the rising of the stars; nor things that happen now in one way, now in another, such as droughts and rains; nor what happens by chance, such as the ®nding of treasure. We do not deliberate even about all human affairs; no Spartan, for example, would deliberate about the best form of government for the Scythians. The reason is that we could not bring about any of these things. Rather, we deliberate about what is in our power, that is, what we can 42

Book III do; this is what remains. For nature, necessity and chance do seem to be causes, but so also do intellect and everything that occurs through human agency. Each group of people deliberates about what they themselves can do. There is no deliberation about precise and self-suf®cient sciences ± letters, for example, because we are in no doubt about how they should be written. Rather, what we deliberate about are things that we bring about, and not always in the same way ± questions of medicine and of ®nance, for example, and of navigation more than of gymnastics, in that navigation has not been developed to such a level of exactness. We deliberate about other ®elds in the same way, and more about the skills than about the sciences, since we are less certain about the skills. Deliberation is concerned with what usually happens in a certain way, where the consequences are unclear, and where things are not de®nite. On important issues, we do not trust our own ability to decide and call in others to help us deliberate. We deliberate not about ends, but about things that are conducive to ends. For a doctor does not deliberate about whether to cure, nor an orator whether to persuade, nor a politician whether to produce good order; nor does anyone else deliberate about his end. Rather they establish an end and then go on to think about how and by what means it is to be achieved. If it appears that there are several means available, they consider by which it will be achieved in the easiest and most noble way; while if it can be attained by only one means, they consider how this will bring it about, and by what further means this means is itself to be brought about, until they arrive at the ®rst cause, the last thing to be found. For the person who deliberates seems to inquire and analyse in the way described as though he were dealing with a geometrical ®gure (it seems that not all inquiry is deliberation ± mathematics, for example ± but that all deliberation is inquiry), and the last step in the analysis seems to be the ®rst that comes to be. If people meet with an impossibility, they give up: take, for example, the case where they need money, but there is none available. But if it seems possible they will try to do it. What is possible is what can be accomplished by our own efforts; what can be brought about through our friends is in a sense accomplished by our own efforts, in that the ®rst principle is in us. The question is sometimes what tools to use, sometimes what use to make of them. The same goes for other cases: 43 1112b

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