“Ethics Book 7” by Aristotle (349 BC)

 

“Ethics Book 7” by Aristotle (349 BC)

Ch. 1

  • Let’s talk about 3 moral character types to avoid & their opposites
    • AVOID: Vice, unrestraint & bestiality/brutality
    • WANT: Virtue, restraint & heroic/divine goodness
  • It’s beyond human quality to make a man godlike in virtue
    • Virtue doesn’t exist in gods because it’s too low for them
  • Bestial badness is different to vice – mostly only found in barbarians or due to a disease – beyond normal human vice
  • Unrestraint/softness v. Restraint/Endurance
    • They aren’t the same as virtue & vice but not too different
    • Self-restraint & endurance are good & praiseworthy
      • Self-restrained men abide by the results of their calculations
      • They know their desires are evil & refuse them based on principle
    • Unrestraint & softness are bad & blameworthy
      • Unrestrained men make calculations but readily abandon them, doing things they know are evil under the influence of passion
  • A temperate man is always self-restrained & enduring, & an intemperate man isn’t always that way
  • Some might say a prudent man can’t be unrestrained, some say he can be

Ch. 2

  • How can a man fail to restrain himself when he correctly believes what he’s doing is wrong?
    • Some say it’s not possible & it’s only out of ignorance – WRONG!
    • If failure is cause by ignorance, what kind of ignorance is it?
      • It’s clear that he doesn’t think the action is right before passion hits
      • This might be that he has an opinion & not knowledge
      • Or weak resistance to passion
    • When desire is opposed by prudence, do we blame a man for yielding?
      • Prudence is very strong & how can you be unrestrained & prudent?
      • You can’t voluntarily do the basest actions if you are prudent
      • Prudence is showed in action & it implies other virtues are present
  • Self-restraint implies having evil desires but overcoming them
    • A temperate man can’t have self-restrain because he doesn’t have evil desires
    • If he only has good desire, he doesn’t have evil ones to restrain himself against
      • If desires are weak & not evil, then self-restraint isn’t anything to be proud of because it should be very easy to resist
  • If self-restraint makes a man steadfast in all opinions, it may be bad – maybe resisting false opinions
  • If unrestraint makes him abandon any opinion, it may be good when the opinions are bad
    • Folly can be seen as a virtue when tied to unrestraint
    • A man who does & pursues the pleasant from conviction & choice may be better than one who acts out of lack of restraint because he’s easier to cure & change his conviction
    • Unrestrained men can’t really be corrected because it’s lack of conviction that is the source of his vice

Ch. 3

  • Let’s ask:
    • 1 – Do men fail in self-restraint knowing what they do is wrong or not knowing?
    • 2 – Are the objects of self-restraint & unrestraint concerned with all pleasure & pain or just special cases?
    • 3 – Is self-restraint the same as endurance or different?
    • 4 – Other questions
      • Is a man unrestrained only because he fails to restrain himself with respect to certain things because he’s got a certain disposition or a combination of things?
      • Can self-restraint & unrestraint be showed with respect to everything or not?
      • Does yielding to only one type of thing make him unrestrained?
  • 1 – Some people are sure of their opinions & think they’re knowledge:
    • Can weakness of conviction be seen as based on opinion or knowledge?
      • Because in this case, there’s no difference
    • “Knowing” has two senses
      • Knowledge without exercising & exercising knowledge
      • Consciously thinking of knowledge when acting or not
        • It’s not surprising that a man would do something wrong if he’s conscious of his knowledge
  • 2 – Is a man acting on a universal or particular premise?
    • Action is in regards to the particular
    • Universal premises may be applied correctly to things that don’t apply to them
      • The action was wrong because basis was wrong, not the calculation
      • Unrestrained men wouldn’t even get to this point – he’d have proceeded anyway
  • 3 – Men can both have & not have knowledge at the same time: asleep & drunk
    • Those in passion are similar – anger, desire, etc. alter the body & cause a type of madness that makes a man only temporarily mad
      • Unrestrained men’s knowledge is easily overcome like a sleeping, drunk or mad man
  • 4 – Other Questions:
    • When you have 2 premises, there’s a logical conclusion formed
    • What if the premises are wrong [in ignorance] must find out why it’s wrong & how it was arrived at
    • An unrestrained man has knowledge but is overcome by or blinded by his passions or desires

Ch. 4

  • Can you call a man “unrestrained” without any qualifications or is it in reference to certain things? What things?
  • It’s clear that you can use restraint or unrestraint when talking about pleasures & pains
    • Pleasure can either be
      • 1 – necessary things associated with the body – sex, nutrition – bodily functions [in profligacy/temperance discussions from before]
      • 2 – not necessary but desirable in themselves – honor, victory, wealth, etc.
        • Re. 2 – They’re unrestrained with qualification because they’re not the same as the unqualified unrestraint – may be only in one dimension but restrained in others
    • Some men are so unrestrained that they chase it no matter what it is & some men don’t choose pleasure, they just don’t understand where the border of temperance & profligacy is
    • Those who desire wealth, honor, etc. – noble things & aren’t corrupt just partially unrestrained
      • They can allow this desire to corrupt them in other ways – often they get associated with the completely unrestrained

Ch. 5

  • Some people behave like wild animals – only pleasant because of arrested development or natural depravity
    • E.g. Women who tear out the babies from pregnant women & eat them & those who all provide a child to eat at a public banquet
    • They might be diseased or crazy or may have just had bad habits that have gone out of control or something due to childhood abuse
    • Those people aren’t unrestrained because this is outside of the domain of vice & are bestial/brutal
  • It’s possible for these people to overcome these habits but it’s not fair to judge them in terms of vice & virtue or restraint & unrestraint

Ch. 6

  • Unrestraint is said to be less disgraceful in anger than desire – partly right, partly wrong
    • Some outbursts are forgivable or even reasonable depending on the severity of the situation
    • You have the right to be upset if insulted but it goes too far to declare war on anyone who insults you
    • Desire from the thought of anything pleasing & going off to enjoy it is different
      • Failing to restrain anger is better because it is sometimes rational
  • Impulses are natural & excusable to follow
    • Anger is a more natural impulse than desire for excessive & unnecessary pleasure
    • The craftier men are, the more unjust they can be
    • But a hot-tempered man isn’t crafty, & unrestraint in desire is more unjust & more disgraceful than excessive anger
  • Wanton outrage gives the doer pleasure & not pain but an act done in anger gives him pain
    • If anger out of proportion to the justice of the anger of the victim, unrestraint from desire is greater than from anger
      • Anger has no wanton insolence
  • Some of the desires are natural & some due to bestiality/brutality
    • Brutality is less evil than vice but more horrible
      • It’s a man acting as an animal & his highest faculties are depraved either by madness or lack of development

Ch. 7

  • Pleasures/pains of touch & taste, & desires/acts of avoidance thereof:
    • It’s possible to succumb to temptation that most men can beat & it’s possible to resist things most men can’t
      • Most men lead toward one extreme of unrestraint with respect to pleasure & restraint or softness with respect to pain & endurance or another thing
  • Pleasure are only necessary within some limits & indulgence isn’t necessary but neither is defect
    • The same holds for excesses out of choice & not some ulterior consequence
      • Then you’re a profligate – not going to feel regret & incurable
        • The opposite is deficient in pleasure
        • Those who avoid pain out of choice can also be profligate
  • Endurance – successful resistance but restraint is mastery
    • Those deficient in resistance to pain are soft or luxurious – too lazy to take care or faking illness = miserable
      • Probably overcome by violent or excessive pleasure or pains
    • More forgivable if it’s due to an innate tendency or disease
  • People too fond of fun are seen as profligate but are really soft due to excessive slackness
  • Unrestraint – weakness – they deliberate but passion prevents resolution – impetus led by passion because of lack of deliberation because they are quick & excitable

Ch. 8

  • Profligate feels no remorse & abides by choice
    • Unrestrained men repent excesses afterwards
    • Profligates are incurable while unrestrained men are curable
  • Vice is chronic & unconscious, unrestraint is intermittent & conscious
  • Among the unrestrained, the impulsive are more likely to know the right course but don’t keep to it & succumb to smaller temptations & don’t yield without temptation – likely to get drunk quickly & on a small amount
    • Not really a vice because he against deliberation, not with it & he isn’t unjust, only does unjust things
    • More likely to pursue excessive bodily pleasures contrary to what’s right – can be persuaded to change
      • Profligates think it’s the right thing to do & can’t be persuaded to change
  • Unrestrained men abandon rational choice due to passion for pleasure
    • Better than a profligate & not all bad because his principles are good

Ch. 9

  • Is a man self-restrained if he stands by any principle or choice? Or does it have to be the right choice?
    • If he fails, is he unrestrained? Or does it have to be a true principle & right choice to be unrestrained?
    • If he’s accidentally right or wrong, then sticking to what he sees as true/correct is close to restraint but he’s still wrong
  • Those who are hard to convince they’re wrong are obstinate & appear like the unrestrained man but are slightly different
    • Self-restraint is against passion & desire, & can yield to persuasion
    • Obstinate men don’t yield to persuasion against any reason
      • Can be boorish, stupid & opinionated – annoyed they’ve been deprived of a victory or that their will has been annulled.
  • Not everyone whose conduct is guided by pleasure is either profligate & base or unrestrained – just those who yield to disgraceful pleasures
  • Restrained men are the mean between the unrestrained man & the man who takes less pleasure than what’s proper
    • Unrestrained men take too much pleasure & the other man takes too little – both are bad
  • We think of the restrained man as temperate but the temperate man is never led by bodily pleasures to act against principle
    • Restrained men have evil desires but temperate men have none because they have no desire for pleasure against principle
    • Restrained men have these desire but don’t yield to them

Ch. 10

  • You can’t be both unrestrained & prudent because prudence is a moral virtue & unrestraint isn’t
    • Prudence is knowing what is right & doing it
    • An unrestrained man doesn’t do what’s right & he may not even know what’s right in the way a drunk or a sleeping man lacks knowledge
    • He may err willingly but he’s not wicked because his moral choice is sound – he’s only half wicked
      • Not unjust because he’s not deliberately doing harm
      • He’s like a country that passes good laws but doesn’t enforce them & a bad man is a country that passes bad laws & enforces them
    • The restrained man shows more steadfastness than most men are capable of – unrestrained men show less
  • Reformation is more possible for the excitable than those who deliberate but don’t keep their resolution

Ch. 11

  • Political philosophers think about pain & pleasure because they’re the ones by whose standard we decide things are good & bad
    • Moral virtue & vice are concerned with pleasures & pains, & most people find them important in happiness because bliss is enjoyment
  • 1 – Some might say that no pleasure is a good thing either essentially or accidentally but good & pleasure are different
  • 2 – Others say some pleasures are good but most are bad
  • 3 – Others say even if all pleasures are good, pleasure isn’t the supreme good
  • Re. 1 – If pleasure isn’t a good at all, then:
    • A – every pleasure is a conscious process towards a natural state but a process has nothing to do with its end
    • B – Temperate men avoid pleasures
    • C – Prudent men pursue a lack of pain, not pleasure
    • D – Pleasure is a hindrance to prudent deliberation
    • E – There’s no art of pleasure – all good things have an art
    • F – Children & animals pursue pleasure
  • Re. 2 – If not all pleasures are good, then:
    • A – Some are disgraceful & discredit those engaged in them
    • B – Some are harmful & can cause disease
  • Re. 3 – If pleasure isn’t a supreme good then it isn’t an end but a process

Ch. 12

  • Re. 1A – “Good” has 2 meaning – absolute good & relative good – good a particular person
    • Has double meaning when applied to people’s natures & dispositions & applied to movements & processes
    • Some processes can be “bad” in other cases – in the absolute & not generally desirable – may not be truly desirable
    • Either the good is an activity or a state
      • Pleasures that rest us to our natural state are accidentally pleasant
    • Activity of desire is that part of us that has remained in a natural state
      • Some don’t involve pain or desire at all without deficiency from the normal
    • Restorative pleasures are accidentally pleasant
    • In a normal state, we enjoy things that are absolutely pleasant but in a process of replenishment, we even enjoy their opposite – soul & bitter
  • Not always that we enjoy the end more than the process, so there must be something better than pleasure
    • Pleasure’s not a processor or incidental to one – activities & an end – not resulting from processes of acquiring faculties but from using them
    • Not a conscious process – an activity of our unimpeded natural state
  • Re. 2B – Pleasant & healthy things can be bad in a relative sense but that’s not necessarily bad. Thinking can be bad
  • Re. 1D – Prudence or other virtues aren’t hampered by pleasure from them – only alien pleasures. Pleasures of contemplation & study help us to contemplate & study more
  • Re. 1E – It’s natural there’s no art of pleasure because art doesn’t produce activity but capacity for activity
    • 1B, 1C, 1F – are answered the same – some pleasures are absolutely good & some aren’t
    • Children & animals pursue the one that aren’t
    • Prudent men pursue freedom the pain of wanting pleasures
      • Bodily pleasure in excessive forms lead to profligacy

Ch. 13

  • Pain is either an absolute evil or impediment to an activity & the opposite of an evil is a good, so pleasure must be a good
  • If some pleasures are bad, that doesn’t mean that a certain pleasure may not be the supreme good
    • Knowledge may be a supreme good, but some forms are bad
      • If every faculty has an unimpeded activity, the activity of all faculties or 1 of them, when unimpeded must be the desirable thing to do
      • Unimpeded activity is a pleasure & in this case the supreme good will be a particular kind of pleasure even though most are bad
      • This is why a happy life must be a pleasant life & a pleasure must be a part of happiness because no impeded activity is perfect & happiness is essentially perfect
      • A happy man will need external good to ensure an unimpeded activity & happiness
    • Some people think because happiness requires gifts of fortune too that it is the same as good fortune
      • Even excessive good fortune is an impediment to an activity & is no longer good fortune
  • If all animals & humans pursue pleasure it must mean it’s a supreme good
    • But they don’t all go for the same pleasure since it’s not always the same good for each one
    • Nature has implanted something divine in us all but we often think only of bodily pleasures because some of us only know that kind
  • If pleasure isn’t good & activity isn’t pleasure, a life of a happy man wouldn’t necessarily be pleasant
    • Why is it a pleasure if isn’t good?
    • Why is it a pain if it isn’t bad?

Ch. 14

  • Noble pleasure are highly desirable but some see bodily pleasures – object of profligates as undesirable
    • Maybe if what’s not evil is good or they’re only good up to a point – where they become excessive
  • You can have an excess of bodily pleasure & pursuing the excess makes a man bad – not pursuing what’s necessary to the right degree
    • With pain, we avoid not just excessive pain but all pain
  • Why do bodily pleasures seem more desirable than others?
  • 1 – Pleasure drives out pain & excessive pain makes us seek excessive pleasure which is an intense restorative because it’s sought in contrast to the excessive pain
  • 2 – They are also sought because of their intensity by people who can’t enjoy other things
    • Only bad if there are harmful results
    • Some have no other sources of enjoyment that even a neutral feeling seems painful to them
    • The young are in a state like intoxication because they’re young & growing which is pleasant
      • Excitable people need constant restoration because their temperament keeps their bodies in a constant state of irritation & their appetites are active & the strong pleasure drives out the strong pain
      • This is why excitable men become profligates & vicious
  • Pleasure without pain derived from things naturally & not accidentally pleasant – doesn’t allow for excess
    • Their effect isn’t used as a restorative but as a source of enjoyment for its own sake
  • Nothing can give us pleasure constantly because we have complex natures [also makes us perishable]
    • The simpler the nature of a man, the more the same activities give him the same pleasure
    • God enjoys simple pleasures perpetually – not just as an activity of motion but also immobility with great pleasure
  • Our desire for change is a sense of badness as if something good needs to be changed

“Ethics Book 6” by Aristotle (349 BC)

“Ethics Book 6” by Aristotle (349 BC)

Ch. 1

  • It’s right to choose the mean & avoid excess & deficiency
    • With all virtues, there’s a mark to aim for & this requires conformity with the right principle [It’s nothing new to say that]
    • We know the truth of that statement but we have to define what the right principle is & the standard that determines it
    • We’ve divided virtues of the soul in virtues of character & intellect
      • Of character, we’ve talked about moral virtues
  • We’ve already divided the soul into the rational & irrational where we contemplate one thing whose 1st principles are invariable & one thing that varies a lot
    • Parts of the soul have adapted to knowing the qualities of the varation
      • Scientific faculty
      • Calculative faculty deliberates on variable things

 

Ch. 2

  • 3 parts of the soul that control action & attainment of truth
    • 1 – Sensation – never originates action – animals have it but aren’t capable of “action”
    • 2 – Intellect – pursuit & avoidance come from affirmation/denial from Intellect
    • 3 – Desire – choice is deliberate desire
      • If choice is to be right, principle must be true & desire must pursue what principle affirms
      • Attainment of truth is the function of every part of intellect
      • Practical part corresponds to right desire
  • Cause of action is choice, cause of choice is desire & reasoning directed at a goal
    • Choice requires intellect & a disposition of character
  • Thought does nothing on its own & only deals with goals & action
    • It’s the cause of productive activity
  • Choice can be called a thought related to desire or desire related to thought
    • Man, originator of action, is a union of desire & intellect
  • Attainment of truth is the function of both parts of the soul

 

Ch. 3

  • Assume there are 5 qualities by which the mind achieves truth in affirmation/denial – Art/Technical skill, Scientific Knowledge, Prudence, Wisdom & Intelligence
  • Scientific Knowledge – objects can’t vary & things beyond our observation we don’t now exist
    • Object of Scientific knowledge exists of necessity
    • Everything existing out of necessity of eternal, doesn’t come into existence, doesn’t die
    • Scientific knowledge communicated by teaching & must be learned
      • But teaching is communication of things already learned, since it comes from induction or deduction
      • Induction gives a first principle or universal
      • Deduction starts from universals
      • There are first principles deduction starts from that can’t be proved by deduction & must be by induction
      • Must say if a man knows something when he has a conviction arrived at in certain way when the first principles that conviction rests on are known to him with certainty

 

Ch. 4

  • Doing & making things is where variation comes in
    • They aren’t the same with respect to rational quality
  • Art in general uses the “making” quality because it brings things into existence that may or may not exist [Architecture}
    • It deals with same things as chance by reasoning truly
    • Lack of art concerns making but reasons falsely

 

Ch. 5

  • Prudence – being able to deliberate well about what’s good & advantageous as a means to the good life in general
    • Often used as a synonym of “wise” in a particular thing while calculating well with a goal in mind
    • A prudent man is good at deliberation
  • We don’t deliberate on invariable things or things not in our power or are of necessity
    • Not the same as art or science
    • Not the science because matters of conduct are variable
    • Not art because doing & making are different
      • Art’s end is better than its mean [making]
      • Doing’s end isn’t better than its means
        • Doing well is the end itself
  • Men with prudence are so because they have a discerning faculty for what’s good for oneself & manking
    • Expert in Domestic or Political Science
  • Temperance signifies preserving prudence that pleasure & pain don’t destroy or pervert our beliefs or capacity to reason & deliberate
  • Prudence is a truth-attaining quality with respect to action in relation to good things for people
  • We can talk about excellence in art but not in prudence because excellence in prudence in a virtue – not true with art
  • Of the 2 parts of the rational soul prudence is the virtue of the opinion-forming side
    • Opinion deals with variation as does prudence
    • Failure of prudence isn’t a lapse of memory, so it isn’t a purely rational faculty

 

Ch. 6

  • Scientific knowledge deals with universals & things of necessity
    • Demonstrated truths & all scientific knowledge come from first principles
    • First principles deriving scientific knowledge can’t be reached by science, art of prudence – must be deduced from other truths
      • Art & Prudence deal with variation
      • Wisdom isn’t knowledge of first principles because a philosopher must arrive at some things by demonstration
  • If qualities with which we get truth & never get falsehood [regarding scientific knowledge, prudence, wisdom & intelligence] it only remains that first principles come from intelligence

 

Ch. 7

  • Wisdom means men who are masters of their art
    • Signifies excellence in one’s field
    • We also say people are wise in general, not just one department
  • Wisdom must be the most perfect form of knowledge
    • Not only only knowing the conclusions stemming from first principles themselves
    • Combination of intelligence & scientific knowledge – a consummated knowledge for the highest objects
  • It’s silly to think of political science or prudence is the highest form of knowledge because man’s not the highest thing in the world
    • “Wholesome” & “good” mean different things for fish & men
    • “White” & “straight” keep their meanings no matter what they’re applied to
      • “Wise” keeps its meaning but the meaning of “prudent” can vary because a prudent man will look out for his welfare which can vary from person to person, while “wise” is universal
    • Wisdom isn’t a political science because there are man forms of it not relative to politics
      • It’s a scientific knowledge & intuitive intelligence beyond the scope of only human affairs
  • Prudence is purely on human affairs with things you can deliberate on
    • No a knowledge of general principles alone
    • Must consider particular facts because it’s concerned with actions & they rely on particulars

 

Ch. 8

  • Prudence is similar to political science with a different essence
    • Prudence with respect to the state is legislative science [supreme & directive]
    • Dealing with particular occurrences is political science, concerned with action & deliberation as if it’s an industry
    • Also understood as a wisdom with oneself [individual] but can be applied to all the science
      • “Prudent” often means being wise in one’s own interest
      • But you can’t pursue your own welfare without domestic economics or politics
    • Those who are young experts in math & science don’t necessarily have prudence because it’s derived from experience & not abstractions
      • By this, the young can’t be metaphysicians or natural philosophers because it involves experience to correct one’s errors
  • Prudence isn’t scientific knowledge because it’s particular & not general
  • Prudence also not intelligence because intelligence involves definitions not proved by reasoning
    • Prudence involves particular not apprehended by science, only by intuitive perception

 

Ch. 9

  • Deliberative excellence – is it a knowledge, opinion, skill in conjecture or something else?
    • Not knowledge – you don’t investigate matters you already know
    • It implies investigating & calculating a particular subject
    • Not a skill in conjecture because that doesn’t require conscious calculation & can be done quickly
      • Deliberation takes a long time
  • Deliberative excellence isn’t the same as quickness of mind, which is a skill in conjecture
  • It isn’t opinion but a form of correctness
    • Good deliberators do so correctly & bad deliberators make mistakes
  • Correctness can’t be predicated of knowledge anymore than error can
    • Correctness of opinion is truth, but opinion is beyond the stage of investigation & is now affirmation
  • Deliberative excellence is a form of correctness in deliberation but not just any kind of correctness
    • Must be for good choices, not bad, to arrive at some good
  • But you can arrive at a good or bad conclusion by a false process of reasoning
    • You might find the right thing, but wrong reasons
    • This understanding is merely making judgments, judging rightly by learning

 

Ch. 10

  • Understanding is the virtue we apply to “men of understanding”
    • Not the same as scientific knowledge or any particular science
    • Doesn’t deal with things that are immutable but those that are in doubt & you can deliberate on
  • It’s not prudence, which issues commands “do” or “don’t do”
    • Understanding merely makes judgments
  • Understanding doesn’t mean possession or acquisition of prudence
    • When we use opinion to judge, we understand & then we can exercise prudence

 

Ch. 11

  • Consideration is to judging correctly what’s equitable
    • Equitable man is especially considerate to other & is showed in certain cases
    • Consideration is judging rightly what’s truly equitable
  • We usually refer to considerateness, understanding, prudence & intelligence in the same people
    • Deals with ultimate & particular things
    • A man with understanding is considerate for other when he’s a good judge of prudence
      • Because equitable actions are common to all good men in behavior towards others
      • Intelligence apprehends the ultimate not by reasoning
  • We say old men are naturally gifted in this but really their opinions & assertions are right because their experience has given them an eye for these things

 

Ch. 12

  • What’s the point of all these intellectual virtues?
  • Wisdom isn’t there for happiness because it doesn’t ask how anything comes into existence
    • Prudence does so but we need it to find out what’s good & just for a man
  • Knowing these doesn’t make us more able to do them since these are qualities of character
    • Knowing what good health is doesn’t make you any healthier
  • If prudence doesn’t help us act virtuously & helps us to become virtuous, then it’s no use to the already virtuous
    • Would be strange if an inferior faculty like prudence had more authority than wisdom because wisdom governs & orders it
  • Both Prudence & wisdom are desirable & parts of the intellect
  • Wisdom is the cause of happiness & a part of virtue as a whole
    • Its possession & exercise make a man happy
  • Prudence [& moral virtue] determine complete performance of man’s proper function – the rightness of the means to the end we aim for
    • Doesn’t make us more capable of performing just acts
    • We know people can perform just acts without being just
      • But there’s a state of mind of a good man has when he performs just acts – out of choice & for the act’s own sake
  • Cleverness is the capacity to perform acts we’ve chosen
    • If acts are noble – cleverness can be good
    • If acts are bad – cleverness can be bad

 

Ch. 13

  • Let’s reconsider the nature of virtue
    • We’ve got moral qualities given to us by nature – being just, temperate & bravery – & others given at birth
  • True goodness is different & comes to us differently
    • Even children & animals have natural dispositions but intelligence allows us to none these natural dispositions to perform excellence in conduct
  • True virtue can’t exist without prudence, but it isn’t prudence because virtue isn’t just a disposition conforming to the right principle but one cooperating with the right principle
    • Prudence is the right principle with respect to conduct
  • Since virtue requires action, prudence plays a large role in it because it allows us to adopt the right means to our ends

“Ethics Book 5” by Aristotle (349 BC)

“Ethics Book 5” by Aristotle (349 BC)

Ch. 1

  • Need to find the mean between Justice & Injustice
    • Definition – moral disposition that renders men able to do just thing & to want just things (Injustice is the opposite)
    • Not the same as with Science where there are always opposites & certain actions lead to opposites results
      • Health doesn’t lead to unhealthy actions
      • Healthy walking = walking as a healthy man
  • Justice & Unjust have different meanings but equivocal uses are generally connected
  • An unjust man breaks the law [illegal act] & takes more than his fair due [unfair]
    • Will be unjust in good things
  • Good is not always good for every particular person but he should pray for & pursue things good for him
  • Unjust men don’t always choose the larger share but is thought to choose more than his due because the lesser of two evils is seen to be good
    • He is unfair – taking too much good & too little is bad
  • We see the law breaker as unjust & law abider as just
    • “Lawful” is decided by legislature & its decisions are rules of justice
    • Pronouncement of law aims at common interest of all or of a ruling class determined by excellence
      • “Just” produces & preserves the happiness of the political community
    • Law prescribes a certain conduct
      • Brave man’s conduct isn’t to desert one’s past, not to run away, etc.
      • Temperate conduct – no adultery or outrage
      • Gentle conduct – not to strike or speak evil
  • Law commands some actions & forbids other actions
  • Justice is the perfect virtue displayed toward others
    • Chief virtue, practice of perfect virtue
      • Possessor can practice towards others not just alone [unlike other virtues]
  • When justice acts it does so to the advantage of others
    • Man who’s vicious towards other & himself is the worst king of man
  • Justice isn’t a virtue but the whole of virtue
  • Injustice isn’t a vice but the whole of vice

 

Ch. 2

  • 1 – When a man displays other vices, even though he displays vices, he’s not taking more than his share of anything
  • 2 – If 2 men commit adultery, 1 can out of desire & 1 can out of profit.
    • This makes one a profligate & the other unjust but not a profligate
  • 3 – Unjust acts are ascribed to a particular vice [adultery due profligacy, desertion to cowardice, assault to anger] but an unjust man profits not from any vice except Injustice
  • There’s another sort of injustice besides universal injustice
    • In a man’s relations to others & concerned with honor, money or security, the motive is pleasure of gain
  • Justice – has 2 meanings: lawful & fair v. unequal
  • Need to discuss Justice & Injustice in the particular sense
    • According to the law & conduct displaying virtues & vices
    • Rules for social life [education] –> political science
      • Good Men aren’t always good citizens
  • Particular Justice
    • 1 – Exercised in distribution of honor, wealth & divisible assets of the community – allotted equally or unequally
    • 2 – Corrective principle in private transactions
      • A – Voluntary – selling, buying, lending, pledging, depositing, renting
      • B – Involuntary – (furtive) theft, adultery, poisoning procuring, enticement of slaves, assassination, imprisonment, murder, robbery, maiming, verbal abuse, insolence

 

Ch. 3

  • Unjust men are unfair & unequal
    • The mean is being Equal
      • A – “Just” is the mean & equal
      • B – “Mean” implies the extremes are “more” & “less”
      • C – “Equal” implies 2 shares of the same size
      • D – This implies certain persons “just” is good for
  • Principle of “assignment of deserts”
    • Just distributions based on merit [not all the same]
      • Being born free in a Democracy
      • Having wealth in an Oligarchy
      • Having nobility in an Aristocracy
  • Principle of distributive justice where “just” is the mean of 2 extremes that are disproportionate, while proportionate is a just mean
    • Proportion is a geometric proportion
  • Unjust is either too much or too little
    • With Evil, lesser evil is a relative good because it’s more desirable than the greater evil

 

Ch. 4

  • Corrective Justice is voluntary & involuntary private transactions
    • Justice in distributing common property is proportional & geometric & injustice a violation of this
  • Justice in private actions is arithmetical
    • Doesn’t matter if a good man defrauds a bad man or if a bad man defrauds a good man
    • The law only looks at the damage done, treats both parties as equals
    • Asking who did what & what the damage was
      • The unjust is unequal & the judge tries to equalize them by placing a penalty to take away the gain by shifting balance between good & evil, loss & gain, which is the mean
  • When disputes occur, men have recourse to a judge who is a mediator & justice personified to reach a mean
    • Restores equality by taking from greater & giving to the lesser
    • “Loss” & “Gain” are terms borrowed from voluntary exchanges where gain is having more than one’s own & loss is having less than one’s own

 

Ch. 5

  • Some say reciprocity is justice
    • Doesn’t coincide with distributive or corrective justice
    • At variance with justice
    • It’s not just the hit back the office who hit you
      • Makes a difference if the other party consents or not
  • Reciprocity maintains association & is on the basis of proportion not equality
    • Men want to return evil for evil & if they can’t they feel like they’re in the position of slaves
    • repaying good with good maintains a bond of association
    • Shrines of the Graces built in Greece are there to remind people to repay kindness
  • Exchange in business is based on this
    • My goods for yours – in some proportion
      • Equality of proportions must be established & the reciprocation takes place
      • If not equal, exchange won’t continue
  • Interchange of goods & services rarely occurs between 2 men of the same trade – usually different trades
    • Commodities exchanged must be able to be compared
      • Men introduced money as a middle term to measure each side of the exchange in one standard holding everything together
      • Doesn’t exist in nature – only in custom & can be altered or made worthless at will
    • Once 2 sides are measured, money will redress the imbalance
  • When there’s no demand for mutual service by at least 1 party, no exchange occurs
    • Money guarantees present & future exchanges but can incur fluctuations of demand like other commodities
      • Should fix the price like with other commodities
  • Relative value of a product or service will be reflected in prices in terms of money
  • With these definitions of Justice & Injustice as having either equality of 2 sides or inequality of 2 sides
    • Justice is observing the mean – not to take too much or give too much but what is proportionately equal on both sides
    • Injustice is disproportionate excess & defect

 

Ch. 6

  • A man can commit injustice without being unjust in that some men must do acts that render themselves unjust
    • Man may get with a women knowing who she is not out of deliberate choice but out of passion
      • He has done an unjust act but isn’t an unjust man
      • He’s not a thief, murderer but he has committed adultery
  • Political justice – between free & equal people, living a common life in order to satisfy their needs
    • Unfree & unequal people can’t get political justice, only metaphorically
      • Mutual relations regulated by law when there’s a possibility of injustice [law discriminates what’s just & unjust]
    • People where injustice can exist can act unjustly towards one another assigning themselves too large a share of good & too small a share of bad
      • Can’t permit a man to rule because he rules in his own interest & becomes a tyrant
      • Ruler’s role is guardian of justice & equality
        • Doesn’t allot himself a larger share of the good & smaller of the bad unless it’s proportionate to merits [honor & dignity]
  • Justice between master & slave, father & child is not the same as political or absolute justice but analogous
    • No injustice against what’s one’s own
      • Not against the child until it reaches adulthood & independence
    • Inherent in the law [those who rule & are ruled]
      • More apparent between husband & wife than between father & son
      • Domestic Justice is slightly different to political justice

 

Ch. 7

  • Political Justice
    • 1 – Natural – has same validity everywhere & doesn’t depend on our acceptance of it
      • Laws are immutable
    • 2 – Conventional – may be settled in one way or another indifferently where rules can vary within convention
      • Standard measures which aren’t the same everywhere
  • There’s a difference between just conduct & what’s just, between what’s unjust & unjust conduct
  • Only when an act is done in a just manner is there a “just act” otherwise, there’s only “just”

 

Ch. 8

  • Voluntary performance of just or unjust acts constitutes just & unjust conduct
    • Whether or not an act is an act of justice or injustice depends on whether or not it’s voluntary
  • When it’s voluntary an agent carries responsibility
  • An act can be unjust without being an act of injustice depends because there was no voluntary aspect of the act
    • Voluntary acts within an agent’s control & performed knowingly excludes accidents & compulsion
    • Involuntary acts – done in ignorance or under compulsion
  • An act may be just or unjust incidentally
  • Voluntary acts divided into:
    • Done by choice after deliberation
    • Not by choice, without deliberation
  • 3 Ways you can injure others
    • 1 – Misadventure – injury happens contrary to reasonable expectation
    • 2 – Culpable error – no done contrary to reasonable expectation
      • 1 & 2 – culpability lies where the cause of one’s ignorance is in oneself
      • Misadventure – culpability lies outside of oneself
      • Culpable error – culpability lie with oneself
    • 3 – Act of injustice – injury done knowingly but not deliberately
      • Injuries done in anger or unavoidable passion
      • Man who does this commits an unjust act but not out of wickedness
      • When the act is done out of choice, deliberately, doer is unjust & wicked [malice aforethought]
  • Issue is not of fact but of justification
    • If a man acts unjustly on purpose, he’s an unjust man
    • If a man acts justly on purpose, he’s a just man
      • Acts done in ignorance & caused by ignorance are pardonable
      • Acts done in ignorance but cause not by ignorance but by unnatural or inhuman passion are pardonable

 

Ch. 9

  • If it’s possible to be willingly treated unjustly or is all injustice suffered unwillingly? Always? Never? Sometimes?
    • We say that just & unjust can be done voluntarily or involuntarily
    • But the agent, object or bystander of an unjust act may not have wanted to be involved
      • Could be involuntary or incidental
      • Impossible to be treated unjustly without an unjust agent
  • If acting unjustly is simply doing harm to someone voluntarily, a man of defective self-restraint voluntarily suffers injustice & it’s possible for a man to act unjustly towards himself
    • Lack of self-restraint makes a person voluntarily submit to harm by another making suffering injustice voluntary
  • Maybe we need to update the definition of Injustice to:
    • To do harm knowing the person affected, the instrument & manner against that person’s wish
    • If so, though a man can be harmed & have an unjust thing done to him voluntarily, no one can suffer injustice voluntarily because no one can wish to be harmed
      • Even an unrestrained man can’t because acts are contrary to his wish since no one wishes for a thing that he thinks to be good & the unrestrained man does what he thinks he ought not to do
        • Not possible to suffer injustice voluntarily
  • 2 questions remain:
    • 1 – Is the giver or receiver of an unduly large share guilty of injustice?
    • 2 – Can you act unjustly toward yourself?
      • 1 – If a giver of too large a share knowingly & voluntarily assigns a larger share to another than to himself [this is what modest people do]
        • Maybe in receiving a smaller share of 1 thing, he receives a larger share of another
        • This might refute the definition of injustice
        • In this case, distributor’s done nothing to him against his wish
          • Not injustice because of the smaller share
      • Giver & receiver may be acting unjustly but receiver isn’t the origin in all cases
  • If a judge gives an unfair judgment in ignorance, he’s not guilty of injustice – nor is the judgment unjust [especially with legal definition of justice]
    • If he knowingly gives an unjust judgment, he’s taking more than his share in favor or vengeance
      • This is injustice
  • Men think it’s in their power to act unjustly & that it’s easy to be just – NOT TRUE
    • Easy to commit adultery, hit innocent people, bribe – all voluntary acts
    • Easy to understand the law’s position on these actions
      • Must understand how actions must be performed, how to distribute, which is harder than knowing what medical treatment produces health
  • Just men must act no less unjustly than what’s just because a just man is able to do unjust things
    • To be a coward & to be guilty of injustice is not simply to do cowardly & unjust things, but to do them from a certain disposition of mind
  • Claims of justice exist between people who share in good things & who can have too large or small a share of them
    • Gods can’t have too large of a share
    • Some can’t get any benefit from good things – the incurably vicious because they see them as harmful

 

Ch. 10

  • Equity with respect to justice
    • Equity & justice aren’t absolutely identical or generally different
    • Sometimes we praise equity & equitable men
    • We even use it as a synonym for “good”
    • Other times it would be weird to praise it if it’s slightly different to “just”
  • Equity isn’t legal justice but a rectification of legal justice
    • Legal statements can be flawed & lacking
      • Laws lay down general rules & when an exception arises the law is defective in its application
  • Equitable is just but not superior to absolutely justice because it’s only the improvement of legal justice

 

Ch. 11

  • We’ve answered the question – is it possible or not for a man to commit injustice against himself
    • One class of just actions consists of those acts
      • Law doesn’t sanction suicide
  • Justice & injustice imply more than 1 person
    • Acts of injustice must be voluntary, out of choice & unprovoked
    • When you injure yourself, you do & suffer the same thing at the same time
  • Justice isn’t towards oneself but between different parts of one’s nature
    • Just as servant & master, father & child

“Ethics Book 4” by Aristotle (349 BC)

“Ethics Book 4” by Aristotle (349 BC)

 

Ch. 1

  • Liberality – in giving & getting wealth, especially giving
    • The virtue is the mean between prodigality & meanness
  • Prodigality – unrestrained, squandering of money usually on debauchery
    • Combination of vices but particularly in wasting one’s own substance – ruining yourself by your own agency
    • Riches be used for good or bad – you are judged on which one you use it for
      • Use of wealth – spending & giving money
      • Acquisition of wealth – getting & keeping money
    • A liberal man is more concerned about giving to the right recipient than getting it from the right sources
      • Focused on doing good more than having good done to one & performing noble acts rather than avoiding base ones
        • Doing good & acting nobly for giving
        • having good done & avoiding base acts for getting
      • Gratitude given to a giver not to one who refrains from taking
      • Men are more reluctant to give something of theirs away than not taking something that isn’t theirs
    • Givers are called Liberal
    • Those who don’t take wrongly are called Just
    • Virtuous acts are noble & done for that sake
      • Liberal men for the nobility of giving to the right people the right amount at the right time with pleasure & without pain
    • Can’t take from the wrong source either – gives the give a bad esteem
      • Won’t give indiscriminately because it has to be done right
      • Giving too much to be regardless of oneself
    • Gift is less about the amount than the disposition of the giver – that’s what gives the gift its substance
      • A smaller gift may be greater if the giver has smaller means
    • Those who inherit money are more likely to be liberal because they’ve never lived without
      • Not easy for a liberal man to be rich because he’s always giving his money away
    • Can’t give to the wrong people or at the wrong time, etc.
      • Must give correct proportion with respect to one’s means
      • Lavish princes aren’t prodigal because they can afford to spend the money
    • Right getting goes hand in hand with right giving
    • Liberal man can be cheated & he feels bad when spending too much money or too little
    • Prodigal man gives too much but usually doesn’t have a problem earning because he’d have nothing to give
      • Prodigal man is better at getting & giving than a mean man – age or poverty will usually fix him
      • He can learn to budget or scale back
      • Not seen as bad, but usually foolish
    • Prodigal men sometimes take from bad sources if they run out of good ways of getting & are forced to use bad ones
      • Many rich men give a lot away to people who ought not to receive it – cheaters, flatterers, etc.
      • Most prodigal men are also profligates & squander money in debauchery & have no moral standard, so they give into temptation
    • If he has no discipline, he goes broke or debauched
    • If he learns discipline, he’ll easily find the mean
  • Meanness is incurable because it’s much more ingrained into a man’s nature than prodigality
    • May take many form because of 2 parts
      • giving too little & getting too much
    • Can be seen as tightfisted or stingy
      • May not actually be covetous
      • Skinflints reluctant to give or take
    • Those who get too much take from any source they can, including robbery, prostitution, usury, gambling
      • Common trait is greed, not caring about dishonor or risk to one’s life
      • Those with improper sources aren’t necessarily mean but usually wicked, impious or unjust

 

Ch. 2

  • Magnificence is a virtue dealing with wealth but refers purely to the spending of wealth at a great scale
    • Scale is relative & suitability is of expenditure depends on the spender himself but most spend enough to call his purchases important
  • Extremes are paltriness & vulgarity
    • Vulgarity – not by spending too much on proper objects but by making a great display on wrong occasions in the wrong way
  • Magnificent men make an art of expenditure & discern what’s suitable & spend lots of money in good taste
    • The object must be worth of the expenditure & the expenditure must be worth of the object produced
    • Motive is the major determinant of the nobility of the action
      • Not too much focused on penny-pinching or trying to make it more expensive
  • He’ll have to be liberal because he’ll have to spend the right amount in the right manner, etc. & it will display greatness
    • Not necessarily contingent on an amount spent
      • More modest men can give something great & noble reflecting excellence
    • May be votive offering, public buildings, sacrifices, ships of war or public banquets, as needed
    • Donation suitable to the giver & occasion
      • Poor man can’t do this & would be foolish because he’ll try to spend more than he can to impress
      • Must come from man of adequate resources to benefit the public
    • May be private affairs – weddings, welcoming foreign guests
    • Furnishing a house worthy of his wealth & buying permanent objects [more noble]
  • On excessive side – a vulgar man exceeds his spending beyond what’s right in a tasteless display on unimportant occasions
    • Not from a noble motive but to show off wealth & try to get people to like them
  • A paltry man will cheap out on everything spoiling the occasion with his cheapness
  • The extremes of magnificence [paltriness & vulgarity] aren’t major vices but not good behavior

 

Ch. 3

  • Greatness of soul – when a person claims much & deserves much, the claim matches the merit
    • If you claim more than you deserve, you’re a fool or vain
    • If you claim little & deserve little, you’re small-souled
  • Being worthy of honor is being worthy of a good external to the man
    • An honor to which good & great-souled men have the right disposition
    • Small-souled men fall short & vain men over claim
  • If a great-souled mean claims much, he must be worth of it & be good
    • Can’t be a coward or dishonest because these aren’t great qualities
    • Bad man aren’t worthy of honor, the prize of virtue & tribute to the good
    • Greatness of soul is a crowning ornament of virtues because it enhances their greatness but can’t exist without them
  • Honor & dishonor are the main concern
    • Honor can only give a moderate amount of pleasure & can’t come from common people or on trivial grounds
    • Dishonor is bad because it is undesirable & undeserved for the virtuous man
    • Observing a moderate respect for wealth, power, & good & bad fortunes – not over-rejoicing in prosperity or over-grieving adversity
    • Honor is only small & a great-souled man may be indifferent to it
  • Honor is often placed on richer men because they seem worth of the good fortune of wealth
    • Only good men should be honored & those with good fortune & esteem are given honor on top of them
  • High worth is unjustified without honor because you need virtue & honor to be of high worth
    • Those who are naughty or insolent aren’t eligible because they see themselves as superior & carry good fortune unbecomingly even though their conduct is no better than others’.
      • They imitate great-souled men without the virtuous conduct
      • Most proud men have no grounds for their pride
    • Great-souled men don’t seek or love danger & only do so for great causes, ready to sacrifice themselves
    • Giving is a sign of superiority [so is memory of giving]
    • Receiving is a sign of inferiority [so is memory of receiving]
    • Great-souled men return favors & services with interest
  • Great-souled men:
    • Never ask for help from others [only with reluctance[ but remember to help others willingly
    • Are haughty toward rich men & courteous toward poor & honest men
      • Not bad to be superior to rich men
      • Ill-bred to lord it over poor men
    • Don’t compete for objects of common ambitions
    • Undertake only important & distinguished things
    • Care more for the truth than what people think
      • Open with love & hate because concealment shows timidity
      • Incapable of living at the will of another because it’s slavish
        • Flatterers are servile
    • Not prone to admiration – nothing is great to him
    • Doesn’t bear grudges because they’re not a mark of a great soul to remember wrongs done to you
    • Doesn’t gossip, talk about himself or others
    • Doesn’t like to hear compliments or hear others run down
    • Only asks for help in times of great trouble
    • Has a slow gait, deep voice & deliberate speech
      • The opposites show an excitable, nervous manner
  • A deficient case is a small-souled man who deprives himself of the good he deserves & makes it seem there’s something about himself or there’s nothing good about him
  • An excessive case is a vain man who is deficient in self-knowledge & exposes their lack of it
    • Not vicious because there’s no real harm but just mistaken in self-evaluation
    • They undertake honorable responsibilities they aren’t worthy of & are eventually found out
    • Ostentatious in dress & manner
    • Brags about how well-off they are imagining this gets them respect

Ch. 4

  • Honor has its own virtue that feeds greatness of the soul in the same way liberality feeds magnificence
  • A man is highly ambitious if he seeks more honor than is right or honor from the wrong sources
    • Unambitious men don’t want honor even on noble grounds
  • We praise an ambitious man as manly * a loner the noble & praise unambitious man as modest & temperate
  • Being fond of honor is good & bad
    • Good – more fond of it than most men
    • Bad – more than is right
      • Aim for the mean

 

Ch. 5

  • Gentleness is the mean with respect to anger
    • It is the mean, although it sounds like the defect
    • We praise felling anger for the right reason, toward the right person, in the right way, time & duration
    • Gentle temper seems like a defect because it doesn’t seek redress
  • The defect – Lack of Spirit – doesn’t get angry when it’s right to
    • May seem like he doesn’t feel injury but he just never stands up for himself & is considered servile to suffer  insults
    • More likely to see redress than to forgive
  • Irascibility is anger at the wrong people for the wrong reasons, too violently for too long. All excesses cannot exist at once because evil will eventually destroy itself
    • Bitter-tempered people are implacable & remain angry for a long time, under a sort of resentment & concealed anger
    • Quick-tempered people are passionate & become angry quickly & seemingly at anything
    • Harsh-tempered people are angry at the wrong thing, more often & longer than what’s right & refuse to reconcile without retaliation
  • It’s difficult to define what’s right because it’s OK to get angry & it’s hard to say when it’s too much
  • We often praise people who don’t get angry
  • It’s best to stick to the mean of these 2

 

Ch. 6

  • Obsequious men complaisantly approve of everything & never object & see it as their duty to avoid giving pain to anyone
  • Surly men don’t care at all if & to whom they cause pain
  • The mean is to be praised – tendency to acquiesce in the right way at the right time, etc. & to disapprove of the things is right to disapprove of in the right way, etc.
    • Those who exemplify the mean are the “good friends” (different from an emotional way) who act with same propriety with strangers & acquaintances but preserve the appropriate distinctions of each class
    • Will disapprove of pleasures when it’s correct to, prefers to do pain when it’s appropriate to
    • Will disapprove of & refuse to acquiesce in a pleasure that brings discredit or harm if his opposition won’t cause harm
    • Will give small amount of pain at the moment for the sake of a large amount of pleasure in the future

 

Ch. 7

  • The mean in boastfulness is similar in telling the truth & falsehoods
    • A boaster claims qualities he doesn’t have or has to a lesser degree than he claims
    • A self-depreciator disclaims or disparages his good qualities
    • A straightforward man is sincere in behavior & speech & admits his true qualities without boasting or exaggerating or understating
      • Can be done with or without an ulterior motive
      • Without an ulterior motive, words, actions & conduct represent a man’s true character
  • False hood is base & reprehensible while truth is noble & praiseworthy
  • A sincere man stands in the mean of the 2 extremes
    • This is different to truthfulness in business relations – different virtue
    • Cases of truth in speech & conduct from disposition of habitual sincerity
    • Sincerity is esteemed a moral excellence because a lover of truth who is truthful when nothing depends on it
      • If you avoid falsehoods for the sake of doing so, then it’s easy to do if it’s morally base
      • A sincere man may understate but not exaggerate but that’s the extent of his deviation from truth
  • Man who claims more merit than he has for no ulterior motive is of inferior character but is more foolish than vicious
    • Understandable if for glory or honor but unseemly for monetary gain
  • Liars in 2 groups
    • 1 – lying for its own sake
    • 2 – for reputation or profit, claiming to have qualities praised or admired or by profiting by claiming accomplishments useful to one’s fellows – easily counterfeited without detection
      • Prophecy, philosophy, medicine
  • Self-depreciators seem more refined out of dislike for ostentation
    • Disowning highly esteemed qualities [Socrates did this]
    • Humble bragging is contemptible because it’s just disguised bragging [Spartans did this]

 

Ch. 8

  • There’s good taste in social behavior & propriety in what we say, how we say it, in whose company
  • Those who got to excess in ridicule are buffoons & vulgar, needing to tell jokes at any cost
    • More concerned with jokes than staying within the bounds of decorum
  • Those who never joke & get offended at those who do are boorish & morose
  • Those who are funny with good taste are witty & versatile in that their jokes come from good character & we judge a man’s character on how it is in action
    • Witty men possess tact that allows him to joke when appropriate & to refrain when appropriate
    • Jesting by a gentleman is different to that of a servile men as jesting by an educated man is different to jesting by an uneducated man
    • Difference is apparent in comparing old & new comedy
      • Old comedy is about obscenity
      • New comedy is about innuendo –> progress in decorum
  • May be difficult to saw gentlemen refrain in giving offense & pain because tastes & what’s offensive varies from person to person
    • Some men will draw a line at some jokes because raillery is a form of vilification & may be illegal
  • A witty man will be tactful
    • Buffoons can’t resist a joke & will try at any cost
    • Boors will have no playful conversation & contribute nothing & take offense at anything
      • Relaxation & amusement are necessities of life

 

Ch. 9

  • Modesty isn’t a virtue because it’s more of a feeling than a disposition as far as fear of disrepute & like the fear of anger & danger because those people who are ashamed blush & those who fear for their lives turn pale
    • Only suitable for the young because they live by feeling & they often err
      • Modesty can keep that in check
    • We praise the young when modest
    • Nobody would praise an old modest man when ashamed because he ought not to do anything to be ashamed of
  • Virtuous men don’t feel shame because it’s caused by base actions & virtuous men don’t do base actions
  • Shame is a mark of a base man who is capable of doing base acts & a virtuous man will never voluntarily do a base act.

“Ethics Book 3” by Aristotle (349 BC)

“Ethics Book 3” by Aristotle (349 BC)

 

Ch. 1

  • Virtue refers to emotion & action
    • Since praise & blame are only given for voluntary actions, what are they?
  • What are involuntary actions?
    • Either out of compulsion or ignorance
    • Must originate outside of the agent & he must contribute nothing to it
      • e.g. Weather causes ships to steer off course or crash – pilot didn’t want to do it
  • Mix or composite of voluntary & involuntary
    • E.g. obeying a tyrant
    • E.g. being forced to do something to protect a loved one
    • They are voluntary in that you must choose the lesser of 2 evils but you were forced into the situation to begin with.
  • Judgment isn’t always on absolutes but in your range of choices available to you
    • Some choices can never be right, no matter if you’re free to choose or if you’re being compelled
  • Choice out of ignorance can’t be considered voluntary but ignorance ≠ regret.
    • an act through ignorance ≠ an act in ignorance
    • a drunk man’s actions are doing in ignorance because he’s drunk & his judgment & reason are impaired
  • You might say wicked men are ignorant of what’s right & wrong & that he does evil things based on that ignorance & that they’re all involuntary actions
    • Involuntary actions due to ignorance must concern a specific action
    • Universal ignorance makes it voluntary & if a bad action is done, it is an evil
  • “Voluntary” means being aware of particular circumstances
    • Includes acts of anger & appetite but not of animals or children because they don’t have reason to control anger or appetite

 

Ch. 2

  • Choice is tied to virtue & is a test of character
    • It is a voluntary act but not all voluntary actions are chosen
    • Children & animals do voluntary acts but don’t have choice
    • Sudden acts can be voluntary but not necessarily out of choice
  • Some claim choice is desire, passion, wish or opinion – WRONG!!
    • Irrational animals feel passion & desire but don’t have choice
    • Men without self-restraint act from desire but not choice
    • Men with self-restraint act from choice but not from desire
  • Passion is less like choice because  there’s little deliberation
  • Wish can include impossibilities – not choice
    • Usually distinguished by truth or falsehood – not good or bad
  • Choice is about means because we praise choosing the right or good thing
    • Preceded by deliberation using reasoning & process of thought

 

Ch. 3

  • Do people deliberate on just anything?
    • Not the impossible, the eternal [meaning of life, who/what God is, etc.] or the immaterial
    • Not on natural states: drought, flood, solstices
    • Not on things of chance: finding treasure
  • None of those involve any agency
    • We deliberate on things in our control & attainable by action
    • Not on things out of our power: science, spelling, other people
  • We can deliberate on things that are uncertain [business, medicine, navigation, arts] or when we don’t trust ourselves we ask others for help
  • We don’t deliberate on ends [that’s what desire is] but on MEANS
    • Doctors don’t deliberate on if they’ll cure a patient but HOW they’ll cure a patient
      • If there are many means, we deliberate on the best one
  • You may discover that you run into an impossibility & will abandon it
    • Deliberation involves possible choices, what tools to use & how to use them
    • But you can’t deliberate on facts
  • Analyze desires, verify they’re possible, deliberate on a plan & execute it

 

Ch. 4

  • Wishes are for ends
    • You may decide on an end wrongly or wish for a bad end
    • Appearances may confuse our wishes & wishes may vary from person to person
  • If wishes are actually true & they’re good
    • A good man isn’t misled on his desires. He perceives it correctly because the end is noble & pleasant
    • Pleasure misleads most people because it seems good but might not be.
      • They choose pleasure seen as good & avoid pain seen as evil

 

Ch. 5

  • So, a wish is the end & deliberation & choice are the means
    • We are free to act or to refrain from acting
    • We are responsible for doing something when it’s right for not doing something when it’s wrong
    • Also responsible for consequences – virtuous if good, vicious if bad
      • wickedness is not involuntary
      • must be able to trace origin to the agent
  • Lawgivers punish those who voluntarily do evil & honor those who do good
    • To encourage good & repress bad
    • Also punish those who are the cause of their own ignorance [negligence, drunkenness] & could have taken the care to avoid the bad
  • Unjust men are responsible for vices but can’t be counted on to stop of their own free will. They’re far too gone
  • We don’t blame people for being born ugly, just when their own neglect leads to the ugliness
  • Some say that men seek apparent good & can’t be blamed for being wrong
    • If that’s true then virtue & vice are never a choice, just a good guess of what good is
  • Also said that men can’t be responsible for bad actions because they’ve become completely self-indulgent & have lost control of their actions
    • But they’ve lost control out of their own choice to abandon self-restraint & are responsible for getting into that state

 

Ch. 6

  • Courage is the mean of fear & confidence
    • Fear is the anticipation of evil things
      • Disgrace, poverty, disease, lack of friends, death
  • Some evils are right to fear & wrong not to fear
    • Disgrace is feared by honorable men out of sense of shame
    • Not right to fear poverty or disease is not caused by vice but being fearless with respect to poverty & disease isn’t courageous either
    • Men can be cowardly in war & liberal with money & stand to lose a fortune
  • Fear & courage displayed – look at the courageous man
    • But when we’re dead, no evil or good can befall us
    • But it’s not noble to die of disease or drowning
    • The most courageous form of death & most noble of dangers
      • Fearlessly confronts a noble death – perils of war
    • Man can defend himself by valor & die but not by disaster

 

Ch. 7

  • There are some terrors beyond human endurance which makes us all fearful
    • They may vary in degrees & magnitude but so do things that inspire confidence
    • The courageous man is proof against fear who endures them as his principles dictate – for the sake of what’s noble & the end virtue aims for
    • We make mistakes in fearing things we shouldn’t not fearing things we should fear
  • Courageous man fears the right things at the right time in the right manner & doesn’t fear when it’s wrong, etc.
    • Exceeding fearlessness is usually called being a madman or insensitive to pain.

 

Ch. 8

  • There are 5 minor forms of courage – none are pure
    • 1 – Citizen’s courage – to endure danger because of legal penalty & reproach of cowardice
      • prompted by virtue – honor & wish to avoid shame
      • man ought not to be brave out of compulsion but because courage is noble
    • 2 – Experience – soldiers learn what real danger is & when it shows up
      • When experienced men are afraid, they’re more cowardly than unexperienced men with citizen’s courage
    • 3 – Spirit or Anger – like wild animals that attack their hunter
      • form found most commonly in nature
      • can be turned into virtuous courage if choice & morals are virtuous
    • 4 – Sanguine – confidence in the face of danger due to past victories
      • he knows he’s stronger than the enemy & not in danger
      • not out of noble courage
      • can turn into cowardice if the tide turns
    • 5 – Ignorance – don’t know any better than not to be afraid
      • quickly turns to cowardice when the picture gets clearer

 

Ch. 9

  • Courage is displayed by confidence & fear
    • in anticipation of pain & enduring it
    • the end is pleasant but often obscured by circumstances
  • Happy men are pained to exercise courage because death seems all the more unpleasant & painful
    • If they can demonstrate courage in spite of this, it elevates their courage, happiness & overall virtue

 

Ch. 10

  • Temperance – applies to the irrational side of the soul
    • Mean is pleasure
    • Sensual pleasures – human & animals have in common
      • eating, drinking, sex, etc.
    • Not mental pleasures – smell, sight, hearing
      • only humans derive pleasure from these
    • Animals only use them functionally
      • Don’t listen to music or look at art for pleasure

 

Ch. 11

  • There are 2 types of desire
    • 1 – common to all men – food, drink, sex
    • 2 – peculiar to individuals – we don’t all want the same types of things
  • Some people overindulge beyond the natural desire or appetite
  • Profligates exceed these in both types of desire
    • They like things that are wrong or even abominable
    • They like things most people like but in inordinate quantities
  • Excess in pleasures is blameworthy
    • Profligates feel pain when not indulging but also from the desire itself
    • Temperate men don’t feel pain at the absence of pleasure
  • Men who have no capacity for pleasure or don’t enjoy it enough [insensible] are rare because those who find nothing pleasant make no difference between a good thing & a bad thing which removes them from humanity
  • Temperance is the mean
    • Not enjoying things of quantities of a profligate but feels little pain from refraining from pleasure
    • Desires only what is in his means – the right thing at the right time in the right way in the right amount

 

Ch. 12

  • Profligacy is a more voluntary than cowardice
    • Profligacy is caused by pleasure – we choose this
    • Cowardice is caused by pain – we avoid this
  • Pain destroys the sufferer’s nature but pleasure doesn’t
  • Since profligacy is more voluntary, it’s more reprehensible & easier to train yourself to resist pleasure because it doesn’t involve danger
  • Being cowardly is more voluntary but particular manifestations of cowardice which are reactionary & out of compulsion
  • Profligates – every act is voluntary & controllable
    • has the air of naughty children or licentiousness of adults
    • desires need to be controlled & children need to practice obedience & self-discipline

 

“Ethics Book 2” by Aristotle (349 BC)

“Ethics Book 2” by Aristotle (349 BC)

Ch. 1

  • Virtue has 2 kinds: intellectual & moral
    • Intellectual – created & increased by instructed which requires time & experience
    • Moral & Ethical – product of habit [ethos]
      • no moral virtues are given at birth by nature – no natural property can be altered by habit
      • gravity pulls a stone down & can’t be trained to move it upwards no matter how many times you throw it upwards
  • Virtues aren’t engendered in us by nature or by violation of nature
    • Nature gives us the capacity to receive them & it’s brought to maturity by habit
  • Faculties are given to us by nature in potential form
    • Exhibit their actual exercise afterwards
    • We don’t acquire faculty of sight or hearing by practice
    • Virtues acquired by practicing them, just like the arts
    • We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts & brave by doing brave acts
  • Legislation has lawgivers making citizens good by training them in habits of right action
  • Good form of being vs. bad form of being
    • Actions from which any virtue is produced are the same as those that are destroyed
    • You become a good builder by practicing building well & a bad one by practicing building badly
    • By acting in dangerous situations & forming a habit of fear or confidence, we become either cowardly or courageous
  • Some men become temperate & gently, others profligates & irascible
    • Moral dispositions are formed as result of corresponding activities
    • Must control the character of our activities because our dispositions depend on it
    • Important to be trained from childhood in our habits

Ch. 2

  • This book has a more practical purpose than most branches of Philosophy – conduct & how to act rightly
    • Important because it determines our dispositions
  • Probably not an exact science – more of an outline
    • Conduct & expediency have nothing fixed or invariable about them – suited toward circumstances – inexact
  • Moral qualities destroyed by excess & deficiency
    • Strength is destroyed by too much or too little exercise
    • Health is destroyed by too much or too little food & drink
      • Also true with temperance, courage & other virtues
  • Running away from everything in hear never makes a man brave but cowardly & fearing nothing whatever makes a man rash.
  • Indulging in every pleasure turns a man profligate & shunning all pleasure makes a man insensible
    • Preservation by observance of the mean
  • Strength produced by eating food & undergoing exertion
    • Strong men can eat & exert a lot
  • Temperance built by abstaining & courage built by enduring terrors

Ch. 3

  • Signs of dispositions come from pleasure & pain from our actions
    • Those who abstain find abstinence pleasurable
    • A profligate finds abstinence irksome
    • A brave man faces danger with pleasure & all events without pain
    • A coward faces danger with pain
  • 1 – Pleasure causes us to do base actions & pains causes us to abstain from doing noble actions. Must be trained from childhood to like & dislike proper things (education)
  • 2 – If virtues are about actions & feelings, everything & every action is potent with pleasure & pain. Virtue is about pleasure & pain
  • 3 – Pain is the medium of punishment & is a sort of medicine that has the tendency to work through opposites
  • 4 – Every formed disposition of the soul realizes its full nature in relation to & in dealing with it, it can be corrupted or improved – pleasures & pains – pursuing & avoiding them at the wrong times, in wrong manner or by some other error.
    • Moral virtue is quality of acting in its best way with respect to pleasures & pains & vice is opposite
  • 5 – 3 things to choose: the noble, the expedient & the pleasant. 3 things to avoid: the base, the harmful, the painful.
    • A good man is likely to go for the right & a bad man is likely to go for the wrong, especially with pleasure
    • Pleasure is common to man & lower animals & it’s a concomitant of all objects of choice because the noble & the expedient are pleasant to us.
  • 6 – Susceptibility to pleasure comes from infancy & is hard to eradicate & is ingrained in our lives
  • 7 – We regulate our actions by pleasure & pain. They’re our main concern is feeling pleasure & avoiding pain affect our conduct
  • 8 – Harder to fight against pleasure than anger. Virtue is dealing with the harder is better & leads to success
    • Pleasure & pain are subjects of virtues & political science
      • He who behaves well toward them is good & he who doesn’t is bad

Ch. 4

  • Difficulty in saying just men do just acts because then they’re just or temperate already – do thing well all the time
    • You can be good at something & make mistakes, but your excellence stops when that happens.
  • Art is a bad analogy because it’s done well with excellence but acts done in conformity with virtues aren’t of a certain domain
    • More of a state of mind when doing them
  • Must act with knowledge, deliberately choosing the act & for its own sake & must come from a permanent disposition of the character
    • Art doesn’t do any of these – it’s just knowledge
      • Only thing in common is that repeated action improves the skill or virtue
  • Actions are called just & temperate when just & temperate men do them or would do them. The agent is just & temperate not when he does them but when he does them in a way that just & temperate man do them
    • You don’t have a chance of being just & temperate if you don’t do them but if you’re acting to become known as just without reasons just men do them, you’re still not just

Ch. 5

  • What is virtue?
    • Definition: something to do with the state of the soul. One of these 3:
      • 1 – an emotion
      • 2 – a capacity
      • 3 – a disposition
    • Emotion – desire, anger, fear, confidence, envy, joy, friendship, hatred, longing, jealousy & pity – state of consciousness accompanied by pleasure & pain
    • Capacity – capacity or ability to feel emotions
    • Disposition – formed state of character where we are ill- or well-disposed to emotion. Badly disposed to emotion. Badly disposed if we get angry with regularity & violence. Well-disposed if we get angry with moderation.
    • Virtues & vices – aren’t emotions because we don’t say a man is “good” or “bad” based on his emotions, only according to virtues & vices.
      • We aren’t blamed for them, only if we get angry in a certain way
      • We’re praised or blamed for our virtues & vices
      • We don’t get angry or afraid out of choice but we are moved by our emotions or are “disposed”
    • Virtues & vices aren’t capacities because we aren’t called “good” or “bad” based on our capacity for emotions
      • We have capacities by nature but aren’t good or bad by nature
    • If virtues & vices aren’t emotions or capacities, they must be dispositions

Ch. 6

  • Defining virtue as a disposition isn’t enough
    • Must say what kind of disposition
    • All excellence has 2 qualities
      • Makes a thing good itself
      • Causes it to perform its function well
      • e.g. Excellence in a horse makes it a good horse, good at carrying its rider, good at galloping & facing the enemy
      • With men, excellence makes him a good man & makes him perform his function well
  • Take the halfway between excess & defect – the 2 extremes
    • Too much food for one person might be too little food for another
    • An expert avoids excess & defect
  • With moral excellence, e.g. courage
    • You can at extremes be frightened or be bold, too much or too little – both are wrong
    • But these feelings felt at the right time, right occasion, towards the right people & in the right matter
    • Excess & defect are errors to be avoided
  • Virtue is a mean state & being able to hit the mean
    • It’s easy to miss the target in many ways & difficult to hit it
      • Badness is manifold & goodness is simple
    • A settled disposition of the mind determining the choice of actions & emotions, mostly observing the mean – a principle a prudent man would choose
      • Mean of vices of excess & defect
  • Some acts can’t be mean & can only be evil: malice, shamelessness, envy, adultery, theft & murder
    • Can’t murder the right person at the right time & in the right place or commit adultery with the right woman at the right time & in the right place
    • Commission of any of these is wrong
      • No excess or deficiency in justice & temperance because the mean is the extreme & not to be extreme in them is bad

Ch. 7

  • Enough of talking in generalities, let’s apply them to specific virtues
    • Courage – the mean of fear & confidence
      • Excess is rashness & defect is cowardice
    • Temperance – the mean of enjoyment of pleasures
      • Excess is profligacy & defect is insensibility
    • Giving & getting money – the mean is liberality
      • Excess is being prodigal & defect is meanness
    • Magnificence
      • Excess is tastelessness & vulgarity & defect is paltriness
    • Honor & Dishonor – mean is honorable
      • Excess is vanity & defect is smallness of soul
    • Aspirations – no word for mean
      • Excess is ambition & defect is lack of ambition
    • Telling the truth about oneself – mean is being truthful
      • Excess is boasting & exaggeration & defect is self-deprication
    • Being socially pleasant – mean is being witty
      • Excess is being buffoonish & defect is being boorish
    • Friendliness – mean is friendly
      • Excess is obsequiousness & flattery, & defect is being quarrelsome or surly
    • Righteous indignation – mean between envy & malice with respect to the neighbors’ success
      • Righteous indignant man is pained by undeserved good fortunes of others
      • Jealous man pained by all good fortune of others
      • Malicious man pleased by others’ bad fortunes

Ch. 8

  • Justice is observing the mean
    • 2 vices (excess & defect) & 1 virtue (the mean)
    • A brave man looks rash compared to a coward & cowardly compared to a rash man
    • Temperate man looks insensible compared to a profligate & profligate compared to an insensible man
      • Each vicious man tries to push the virtuous man to the other extreme
    • Some extremes are worse than others
      • Courage – cowardice is more against the mean than rashness
      • Temperance – profligacy is more against the mean than insensibility
    • The vice less against the mean (virtue) is less likely to be our natural indignation
      • We’re inclined toward pleasure & away from pain & our tendencies reflected that

Ch. 9

  • We’ve showed moral virtue is a mean between 2 vices (excess & defect)
    • We should hit the middle point in feelings & actions
    • But it’s difficult enough to find the middle point
      • Where’s the middle of a circle? Can you actually find it?
      • What’s the right amount of anger or amount of money to spend
    • 1 – must sail between Scylla & Charybdis (both are bad!)
      • Middle way is best but the 2nd best way is the lesser of evils
    • 2 – Recognize the errors you’re prone to & drag yourself in the opposite direction – more likely to find middle path
    • 3 – Be guarded against what’s pleasant & painful because we aren’t impartial judges
      • It won’t be easy to do – a little divergence is OK
      • You are only blamed for diverging widely

David Hume – Of the Study of History

History will show that that hat was not the best idea.

David Hume – Of the Study of History

  • Hume advises women of the 1700s to study history
  • Women tended to eschew history & the like for fiction
    • Gives a copy of Plutarch’s Parallel Lives to a girl he likes
      • Tells her that it’s fiction
      • She likes it at first until she figures out that Alexander & Caesar were real people
      • Does this w/ lots of women to tease them about their aversion to history
  • Much get out of reading History
    • It’s fun
    • it improves your understanding of the world
    • it gives examples to improve your virtues & minimize your vices
  • It’s fun to go back in time & look at places that are completely foreign to us
    • look at early art & sciences
    • see how gov’ts worked & how/why they change over time
    • you see how human society & inventions perfect life
    • see how the times informed people’s vices & virtues
  • Improving our knowledge
    • Often called being erudite
      • really just knowing what happened
      • Might be a luxury to have the time to learn about the rest of the world
      • ought to know about your own country & Greece & Rome
    • history is the passing off of knowledge
      • leading to passing off of knowledge in sciences across time & across national borders
      • it is a way of living since the beginning of time
      • & learning for past experiences
  • Poets & Philosophers help improve our virtues
    • Poets by praising them
    • Philosophers by defining them & defending them
    • History shows how people have gone astray from virtue
  • Machiavelli
    • As a political man
      • Gives excuses for murder, assassination, perjury
    • As historian
      • says vice is bad & shows historical evidence on how going on the wrong path leads to bad results
    • Philosophers speak in abstract manners
    • Historians show how people & societies stray from or stick to virtues & the consequences of those actions