“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


Author: knowit68

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