Aristotle 1.ethics.ppt
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Aristotle 1.ethics.ppt Aristotle 1.ethics.ppt Presentation Transcript

  • Aristotle
    The Ethics
  • Metaphysics and Ethics
    • All things have an end
    • A “final cause” – the good for which a thing is done or the good for an object View slide
    • Shipbuilding – Ship View slide
    • Economics – Wealth
    • Medicine -- Health
  • The End of Human Life
    There must be some end to human life
    That is the reason for which we do all other things
    Politics – Includes the good for all areas of human life
    This inquiry into the good of man is a kind of political enquiry
  • Preface: The exactness of knowledge
    Various disciplines admit different degrees of certainty.
    We should not expect from ethics and politics the exactitude of physics.
    But we should not therefore think it is only a matter of convention.
  • Happiness as the greatest human good
    There is wide agreement that happiness is the greatest human good.
    But there is little agreement about what happiness (or a well-lived life) consists in.
  • What is happiness?
    • Aristotle lays out the view of classes embraced by Plato (that some are dominated by desire, some by spiritedness, some by reason)
    Some say it consists in a life of pleasure
    • This is the view of the masses
    Some say it is the life of honor
    • This is the view of statesmen
    Some say it consists in virtue
    • This is the view of the wise
  • The final good as self-sufficing
    Our true good can scarce be taken away from us.
    Many goods, however, are only conditional and partial; they aim at something beyond themselves.
    Moneymaking – ultimately aims at happiness
    These thus cannot be confused with the final good, which is self-sufficing.
  • Contingent goods and a happy life
    • These various partial, contingent goods contribute to a good life.
    • Contingent goods, which can come and go, are still goods. It is better to have them, than not to have them.
    • Thus one living a fully good life has friends, a certain wealth, physical beauty, etc. Some external goods are necessary. (See also Bk. X, Ch. 8)
  • More fundamental, however: What is our function?
    The human function is a kind of life.
    It is to exercise one’s vital faculties in accord with reason.
    It is act and live well and beautifully, as an excellent, exemplary human.
    This means it is to act virtuously.
  • Human nature
    Humans have three parts constituting their nature:
    Vegetative soul
    Appetite
    He says these listen to reason
    Reason
    Reason plays a role in controlling appetites:
    If we do this, then we develop character virtues
  • Two kinds of virtue
    Intellectual virtue
    This consists in developing intellectual abilities (including the ability to judge how a virtuous person should act—i.e., phronesis, or practical wisdom/prudence.
    Character virtue
    These are moral excellencies—habits of character cultivated in those who live excellently
  • The development of character
    • Virtues are not natural.
    • They must be acquired by training.
    • Just as we become pianists by playing piano, we become just by acting justly, courageous by acting courageously, etc.
    • So, too, we become unjust by practicing injustices, cowards by practicing cowardice, etc.
  • Context sensitive action
    The goal is not to follow a principle that applies equally in every situation.
    It is to develop a character that allows us to judge what action is appropriate in each different kind of situation
  • Taking pleasure in the right things
    Humans are malleable. We can take pleasure and find pain in very different things
    The virtuous person learns to take pleasure in good things and to find pain in bad things.
    We also want to avoid finding pleasure at the wrong times or in the wrong manner
  • The virtuous
    • The virtuous takes pleasure
    • In the right things
    • At the right time
    • Toward the right persons
    • In the right manner
    • To the right degree
    • We take the pleasure or pain that we derive from moral actions as a test of our character.
  • Hamartanein
    Hamartanein is the Greek for missing the mark.
    Our goal is to hit it.
    It is difficult, however, because there are many ways of missing it, and few of hitting it.
  • The golden mean
    • The goal in virtues of character is to achieve a mean between two extreme forms of character.
    • We want to avoid both a deficiency and an excess of a certain characteristic.
    • The mean, however, is relative
    • The right amount of food for Milo, the wrestler, is different than the right amount of food for me.
    • “Virtue, then, is a habit or trained faculty of choice, the characteristic of which lies in moderation or observance of the mean relatively to the persons concerned, as determined by reason, i.e., as the prudent man would determine it.” (NE, Bk II, Ch. 6)
  • Not all things admit of a mean
    • Example: Adultery
    • One can’t commit too little adultery, or just enough – only too much.
    • One can’t commit adultery with the right person, in the right way, at the right time, etc.
    • Nor can there be an excess of the virtues – i.e., to much justice, too much moderation, etc.
  • The golden mean
    • In feelings of fear and confidence
    • Mean = courage
    • Deficiency of confidence = cowardliness.
    • Excess of confidence = foolhardiness
    • In taking money (small and large sums)
    • Mean = Liberality, magnificence
    • Excess in spending = prodigality, bad taste
    • Deficiency in giving = Illiberality, meanness
    • With regard to honor and disgrace
    • Mean = high mindedness
    • Excess = vanity
    • Deficiency = low mindedness
  • Mean in nearly all things
    • In anger
    • Mean= gentleness
    • Excess = wrathfulness
    • Deficiency = wrathlessness
    • Pleasantness in amusement
    • Mean = wittiness
    • Excess = buffoonery
    • Deficiency = boorishness
    • Pleasantness in other affairs
    • Mean = friendliness
    • Excess = obsequious or flattery
    • Deficiency = disagreeableness, quarrelsomeness
  • Life of moral virtue is happy in a secondary sense
    • The development of character virtues is related to intellectual virtue.
    • In living in accord with virtue, we do develop the intellectual virtue of prudence
    • The development of this virtue stands in a feedback relationship with the development of virtues of character.
    • The more virtuous we become, the better we see what virtue calls for in a particular situation.
  • External goods and the virtues of character
    • Basic necessities in life must be met to have a good life.
    • They are also necessary for the exercise of character virtues.
    • Strength is necessary to express bravery.
    • Some money is needed to be liberal.
    • But we only need moderate amounts of these things to live a life of virtue.
  • Perfect happiness
    • This consists in the fullest expression of reason in us.
    • It requires speculation or contemplation, since that is how we most fully express reason.
    • The life of contemplation is the only life pursued completely for itself.
    • It alone is the life of leisure.
    • All toil is done in the hope that we can find peace/leisure – even the toil of the statesman.
    • But the life of contemplation surpasses what is possible for us – it is more of a divine life.
    • We ought, however, to exercise our reason in contemplation as much as possible.
    • The wise person is the happiest of all.
  • Political Thought
    Moral education is important.
    A good polity: supports the development of good citizenry (the cultivation of the virutes).
    The best polity: one of virtuous citizens.
  • Development of Virtue as Human Goal. Development of Virtue as Political Goal.
    Humans are rational animals.
    Humans are political animals (zoon politikon).
    Human Telos: Happiness (Eudaimonia) is the goal of action.
    It requires a certain material basis, but mainly a rational life in combination with the cultivation of the virtues.
    The goal of the polity is (among other things) to support this natural goal.
    That means the polity must create the basis favorable for the individual development of reasons, education, virtue.
  • Ethics and Politics
    Humans are social animals.
    One living outside of the state is “either an animal or a God.“
    Aim of a good polity
    to enable citizens a complete human life.
    The Polis exists naturally.
    Each person shares the aim of pursuing Eudaimonia.
    The state is necessary for achieving this goal.
  • A virtuous character is an individual and social product
    Humans are social beings.
    Although reason is essential to humans, it is developed better in some societies than in others.
    A rational society creates rational citizens.
  • Legislation
    Law is to secure the conditions needed for individuals to maintain a well-lived life.
    A well-lived life is an exemplary one.
    The measure of an exemplary life is passed on in the polity. The polity thus also assumes the right to help decide what good life of the citizens consists in.
    Education is an essential governmental duty.
    A well-educated (virtuous) citizenry is needed to maintain a just state.