“Ethics Book 10” by Aristotle (349 BC)

Calm down, this is the last “book” in my “book”.

“Ethics Book 10” by Aristotle (349 BC)

Ch. 1

  • Let’s discuss pleasure
    • Very important in education to steer between pleasure & pain to enjoy what we ought to & hate what we ought to ensure one’s virtue of character
    • Some say pleasure’s good & some say it’s bad, or that even though it might be good it’s best to treat it as if it’s bad in order to get the desired outcome – the mean
    • It’s best to stick to the facts & not deal with feelings because when they clash with facts, lies get told & men start to hate each other
    • True arguments are best because they harmonize facts & stimulate understanding

Ch. 2

  • Eudoxus thought pleasure was good because both the rational & the irrational wanted it, & aiming for excellence & the greatest good guides a man to the same object – pleasure
    • He was generally believed because he was such an excellent character
    • He thought because pleasure is to be sought, its opposite is to be avoided at all costs
      • We choose it for its own sake & not for another reason & this leads us to believe that pleasure is always the object of choice – increasing the good
      • This makes it one of the goods, but not the only one
  • Plato said good isn’t pleasure but a pleasant life is better with wisdom – making it not pure good
    • Things that need to be mixed with something else to be good aren’t good on their own
    • Those who say not all things aim for good are talking shit
      • Only in the case of senseless creatures would that be true
    • If pain is an evil, it’s not necessarily true that pleasure is a good
  • If evil is opposed to evil as well as the neutral state, they ought to avoid each other & not avoid the neutral state because they’d prefer it over evil or pain

Ch. 3

  • Some will say good is determinate but pleasure is indeterminate because there are degrees of it
    • We know there degrees of justice, bravery, etc.
    • If judgment of behavior is based on various pleasures it’s not true because some pleasure are mixed & some aren’t
      • Health has degrees & why shouldn’t pleasure?
  • This assumption is that good is perfect & absolute because things that move or come into being are imperfect
    • Things that move can be slow or fast but that’s in relation to something else
    • We might become pleased quickly or slowly but we can’t be pleased quickly or slowly
      • It’s a state of being, not a change in a state of being, so it can’t come into being. It can only change, just as receiving pain is changing from a relative state of pleasure to a relative state of pain. The speed of the change is what’s measured
  • Some say pain is a lack of what’s according to nature & pleasure is a replenishment of it.
    • These are bodily experiences
    • Replenishment isn’t pleasure
      • Surgery is replenishing the body & it certainly isn’t pleasant
    • Replenishment is only pleasurable when being deficient in something is painful – e.g. eating when you’re hungry, sleeping when you’re tired, etc.
    • It isn’t true with the other senses – smells, sounds, sights, memories, hopes don’t presuppose pain
  • Disgraceful pleasures are said not to be pleasant
    • If they’re pleasant to the vicious, we can’t assume they’re pleasant to the non-vicious
    • Some pleasures will be pleasant based on the circumstances surrounding them & will determine if they’re noble or not
      • Wealth is good but not if it’s stolen or swindled
  • Flattery might feel good but it isn’t actually good
  • Some things we should want even if they bring us no pleasure – faculties, senses, etc. because not having them will bring us pain or misfortune

Ch. 4

  • Pleasure seems to be complete & not missing anything that would make it more complete
    • It’s not more pleasurable if it lasts longer
    • Not movement because movements take time to reach their ends & are only complete when they end
  • Movements in their parts are always incomplete because once the end is reached, the movement stops
    • Building a temple is a movement of piling stones & columns for the purpose of a complete building but it all stops once the building is complete
    • All movements & actions are for some goal & they end once they’re reached
    • Pleasure & movement are different – pleasure is the result of a movement
  • Some will say there’s a movement of pleasure or a coming into being of pleasure
    • Movements are divisible & continuous, while pleasure is purely a state of being – always whole – either there or not (never partial, but sometimes mixed)
  • Every sense is active with respect to its object, senses in good condition act perfect with respect to the finest objects
    • The best activity is that of the best-functioning organ/sense with respect to the finest object
      • Pleasure doesn’t complete activity in the same way that a combination of an object & sense do
      • Pleasure isn’t a corresponding permanent state but a reaction that is merely temporary
  • Why is no one continuously pleased? Why does it fade?
    • We aren’t capable of continuous activity
    • Some pleasures come from something new & it ends when it’s no longer now
    • The mind is in a state of stimulation & it eventually relaxes, which causes pleasure to be dulled
  • Life is an activity & a man is usually active in something he loves with the faculties he loves most
    • Musicians love to hear & play music
  • Pleasure is at the completion of an activity
    • It’s in our nature to aim for pleasure because it means we’ve completed a part of life

Ch. 5

  • Different kinds of things are completed by different thing
    • Activities require different things to complete them
      • Those who enjoy math become mathematicians & because they do it so much, the pleasure of doing it intensifies with doing it regularly
  • Activities are hindered by pleasure from other activities because our attention given to one thing precludes giving it to another
    • The more pleasant drivers out the other
    • Likewise pain & unpleasantness stops us from doing things
  • Just as good activities are worthy of chosen & bad ones are worthy of avoiding, so too are the pleasures & pains
    • As each activity has its own pleasure or pain
  • Pleasure for good activity is good & pleasure for bad activity is bad just as appetites for noble things are praiseworthy & appetites for base things are blameworthy
    • Pleasures involved in activities are more proper to them than their desires
      • Desires are separated in time & nature
      • Pleasures are close to the activity & almost indistinguishable from each other
  • Activities have different & so are pleasures
    • Sight > Touch, Hearing & Smell > Taste
    • Pleasures from these are similarly superior
  • Each animal has a different pleasure, just as it has a different function
    • Donkeys like food more than gold
  • But men do differ in what’s pleasurable & painful
    • It may depend on individual tastes or conditions of health (what’s pleasant is different when you’re sick from when you’re well)
  • Men will find different things pleasant that others might find unpleasant
    • This isn’t always a pleasure. It might be a perverted taste
      • Depends on the activities that these pleasures follow

Ch. 6

  • Let’s discuss the nature of happiness by summarizing what we’ve said before because happiness is the purpose of human life
    • Happiness is not a disposition but an activity desirable for its own sake because it is enough not to need anything on top of it
    • It has this in common with virtuous, noble & good deeds
    • Pleasant amusements are seen to be this way
      • People engaged in them seem happy enough & are even seen to be pleasant to tyrants & those of despotic dispositions
      • There’s nothing virtuous about despotic dispostions
        • It’s normal for those who’ve never had pure & generous pleasure to resort to bodily pleasure & think they’re most desirable
      • Tastes between good & bad men differ in the same way as tastes between men & boys differ
        • Good men’s disposition is in accordance to virtue
  • Happiness isn’t in amusement because it is for some other end
    • It’s a form of relaxation necessarily because we can’t work continuously
    • It allows us to work hard by breaking the work up
  • Happy life is thought to be virtuous & that requires exertion & isn’t always about amusement
    • Serious activity is better than activity of laughter
      • Even a slave can enjoy bodily pleasures as much as a free man but no one can say he’s happy because he’s not allowed to participate freely & voluntarily in any virtuous activity

Ch. 7

  • If happiness is about virtue, the highest happiness is in accordance with the highest virtue – the best thing in us
    • If reason or something else is our ruler & guide, & to think about noble & divine things is the best activity for us, it must be virtuous to participate in contemplative activity
      • This activity is the best & most continuous because we can contemplate the truth more continuously than we can do anything
    • We think happiness has pleasure mixed in, but the activity of philosophic wisdom is the pleasantest virtuous activity because it brings the purest & most enduring pleasures
    • While a philosopher or any just man needs the necessities of life, when he’s equipped with them, he needs people he can be just towards & the philosopher can still contemplate when he’s alone
      • He may need co-workers but he’s the most self-sufficient man
    • The activity is good for its own sake, while practical activities are good for other reasons than their own sake
  • Happiness is thought to depend on leisure because we’re busy so we can have it, just as we make war to live in peace
    • Warlike activities aren’t leisurely but neither are those of a statesman, who aims at political action, power & honors, or even happiness for himself & fellow citizens
    • If these are great activities, they certainly aren’t leisurely
  • Contemplative activity for no purpose than itself has a form of leisure of its own
    • Self-sufficiency, leisureliness & unweariedness are all said to belong to a happy man & are connected to contemplation
    • They make a man completely happy
  • If reason is divine, living life according to reason must be divine too because it is the best & pleasantest form of life – reason is man

Ch. 8

  • Life in accordance to virtue provides a secondary happiness
    • Brave & just acts towards others depending on our duties & passions – all typically human traits
    • These can come from the body because virtue of character requires control over passions which relate to the body
    • Practical wisdom is linked because it relates to moral virtue & rightness in morals
      • Moral virtues belong to our composite nature which is human, & happiness & life depend on them
  • Excellence of reason is separate but in combination with external equipment to go with moral virtue
    • Even if statesmen have to deal with the physical, that involves exercise of activities in which virtue plays a role
    • You’ll need money to do things & return services
    • A brave man will need power to perform virtuous acts according to his nature
    • A temperate man will need opportunity & some form of temptation to resist
  • It’s unsure if deed or will is more essential to virtue but its perfection requires both
  • A man contemplating the truth doesn’t need these in his activity, only in that he does other things in his life
  • Perfect happiness is a contemplative activity
    • If gods are above all other things, what acts do they do to make them so great?
      • Acts of justice? Gods don’t need contracts or to return deposits
      • Acts of bravery? Gods don’t need to risk danger
      • Acts of liberality? What do gods need to give each other that they don’t already have?
      • Acts of temperance? What passions do they need to overcome?
  • We assume they live & act. But what do they do? Nothing’s left for them to do except contemplate
    • It’s an activity worthy of the gods – it must be the highest activity
      • Must be that other animals can’t achieve this level of happiness because they can’t contemplate
      • Happiness extends as far as contemplation does & those who can do & do do more of it are happier
  • We also need external prosperity because humans aren’t self-sufficient beyond contemplation
    • We need to eat food & build shelter
      • We don’t need loads of external things – nothing excessive – just enough to maintain ourselves & perform just acts
      • But we can do just acts without controlling everything, just controlling some things allows us a great deal of happiness & virtue
      • You can live temperately with very little
  • Those who exercise reason & cultivate it seem to be in the best state of mind & dearest to the gods because if the gods cared at all for humans, they’d like those most like them & reward them with love & honor – making these men the happiest of all

Ch. 9

  • So, what do we do with all this? How do we become good?
    • If good arguments were enough to make men good they’d already good. Most aren’t even close
    • They mostly do things out of fear – abstaining from bad acts not because they’re base but because they’ll be punished
      • They pursue pleasures & avoids pains without the slightest idea of what’s noble because they’re never experienced it
    • How do you remold them? Hard, but not impossible
      • We ought to be happy if we can just make them slightly virtuous
  • Some say we’re made good by nature or habit or teaching
    • We can’t do much about nature – those people virtuous by nature are lucky
    • Argument & teaching doesn’t work on all men
      • Those who are teachable must have had some virtue in them that grows through teaching
      • Men who live by passion don’t listen to argument – only force
    • It’s difficult to become virtuous by training if you grew up in society without good laws
      • & living temperately is hard for anyone especially the young
    • The youth’s nurture & occupations should be fixed law so that custom makes it less painful
    • The right nurture & attention to the young isn’t enough because adults need to practice & keep up the work
      • Laws will be needed for this to cover the whole of life because people obey necessity not argument & punishment not a sense of what’s noble
      • That’s why some say legislators ought to stimulate men to virtue & urge them by rewarding them for good behavior & punishing bad behavior
    • A good man will submit to argument while a bad man will submit to pain like an animal
  • If a good man lives a good life willingly & if men can be brought to live according to reason [& forced to do so if need], using the law’s compulsive power & stemming from a rule of practical wisdom & reason
    • Laws ordaining what’s good are not burdensome
  • Only Sparta has laws on nurture & occupations
    • Most states wouldn’t dream of it
    • There should be public & proper care for that because if these things are neglected by the public, men are responsible for pushing other towards virtue – should have will & power to do this
  • Those who can do this are best suited for legislating
    • Good public control is effected by good laws – either written or unwritten
    • Cities function like households where the habits of the father are mirrored by & passed on to children who obey him
    • Private education is better than public because each man has different ways that methods work for him & virtues apply to him
      • Private education has customized curriculum determined by experts who know the universal of the subject but can tailor it to the individual’s need
  • We should know how to learn to legislate
    • It’d make sense to learn from a statesman who practices the art but they don’t usually speak or write about it or even pass on the knowledge to his children/citizens. They shoul
  • It seems politicians don’t learn in a book but by experience
    • Sophists who “teach” it know absolutely nothing about it
      • They say you can select laws as if intelligence plays no part
    • Laws are said to be the works of art of politics but how do you judge if they’re good or not but can also know the circumstances of the enactments
      • This makes them smarter on these matters
  • Our predecessors have been inadequate in helping us in laws & the constitution
    • We should study & find out what best preserves states & what destroys them.
    • Let’s begin our discussion…

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