- Author: Aristotle (384 -322 BC)
- Title: Nicomachean Ethics
- Published: 4th C BC (Penguin paperback published 2004)
- Table of contents: 329 pg
- Trivia: Read for Ancient Greek and Roman Challenge
- Trivia: philosophy is not an easy read…..
- I needed to consult wikipedia page Nicomachean Ethics
- ….to get a ‘quickscan’ about the book.
- The summary is very detailed.
- Aristotle was Plato’s best student.
- He went on to become the very well-paid tutor of Alexander the Great.
- A key theme in Aristotle’s thought is that happiness is the goal of life.
- Aristotle was a good deal less other-worldly than Plato.
- He voluntarily went into exile from Athens when conditions became a bit politically dangerous for him.
- Aristotle believed that the greatest human endeavor is the use of reason.
- There is so much to read and process in this book
- ….I was at first overwhelmed.
- I had to decide what would be the scope of my review.
- I did two things:
- Try to find differences or similarities between Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s N. Ethics.
- Try to apply some of Aristotle’s wisdom to my own life.
- You can see some of my notes at the end of this review
- …about my #NoSugar challenge and how Aristotle helped me.
Differences or similarities between Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s N. Ethics.
Plato (Republic) vs Aristotle (Nicomachean Ethics)
- Plato in Republic developed a three part teaching of the soul:
- Reason – Emotions (spirit) – Appetites (desires)
- Aristotle argues.…that virtues are needed to
- …correctly regulate the emotions and desires.
- The only virtue that DOES NOT regulate an emotion or desire is justice.
Plato vs Aristotle (soul)
- Plato AND Aristotle agree: soul = reason – emotions – appetites (desires)
- Aristotle adds virtues to regulate our emotions – appetites (desires)
- Aristotle also argues …..that the soul has two parts:
- RATIONAL and NON-RATIONAL
- Rational soul: practical reason to determine how to act in a situation
- Non-rational soul = virtues of character who regulate emotions and desires.
Plato vs Aristotle (justice)
- Plato AND Aristotle agree: : Justice is a virtue.
- When a soul is ‘in order’… than it experiences justice.
- Soul ‘in order’: reason + emotions work together to keep desires (appetites) in check.
- Aristotle also argues….A person is just if he exercises ALL the virtues of character
- ….towards himself, others and those he doesn’t know.
Plato vs Aristotle (virtue)
- Plato AND Aristotle agree:
- A happy life is a virtuous life. Virtuous person exercises wisdom.
- Aristotle also argues….. that there are two types virtues: moral and intellectual.
- Intellectual virtues: are developed by education and training.
- Moral virtues are developed by habit……they require practice.
- “We are what we repeatedly do!”
- Virtues don’t come ‘built in’. They must be practiced again and again.
- Aristotle’s virtues: courage – temperance – honesty – compassion –
- …forgiving, responsible, generosity, friendliness, modesty, patience.
Patience is a virtue:
Plato vs Aristotle (happiness, eudaimonia) the happiest life….
- Plato: the soul is just + reason is dominant in the soul.
- Aristotle: one fulfills his function (ergon) that is characteristic of his nature.
- Man: To use reason in the pursuit of the good life (virtue) is his function.
Contradiction: Aristotle highlights TWO DIFFERENT types of eudaimonia ( happiness)
- Book I: implies a happy life is one of active virtue + exercising practical reason
- Book X: since the intellect is the best thing in us
- ….the contemplative life might be happier still.
Notes about my quest to live #NoSugar and how Aristotle helped me.
- I am reading Nicomachean Ethics.
- In order to write an interesting review
- …I am going to put Aristotle’s thoughts to the test.
- Aristotle is going to be my coach during the #NoSugar sequel.
- Aristotle thinks the supreme good in life is eudaimonia (acting and living well)
- A person who achieves eudaimonia is one whose life is blessed by an angel.
- A person has an eudamonian life if he possesses and exercises the virtues.
- Virtues of character – determination
- Virtues of thought – using practical wisdom.
- I was #NoSugar and #NoBread…but things have changed.
- Birthday, Christmas, Easter…holidays seduced me into temptation!
- I have become addicted to sugar…..again!
- Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!
- Now it is time to stare at Aristotle every day and record my progress.
- Aristotle indicates we should have a eudaimonian (happy) life plan (ch 6)
- Decide the best thing to do.
- Be determined to do it.
- Make the change a lifestyle.
- I have another friend St. Augustine who will be guiding me.
- He recommends ruthless self-examination. (reading his book soon…)
- This challenge will not be easy….I know what to expect….but it has to be done!
- #NoSugar part 1 = I’m human….I failed.
- St. Augustine said: “Lord, make me pure but not yet.
- I say: Lord, do it now!
- Wish me luck!
- I had the entire night to think about this challenge.
- I know I can break the sugar addiction but need to change my tactics.
- Goal: #RunWalkRun — 9 minutes of running, followed by 1 minute of walking
- ..and then.. repeat, repeat, repeat. (training session = 40 min)
- You can run 5k – 10k or even a half marathon using this method!
- The secret according to Jack Galloway running coach is ‘add walks.’
- Don’t knock yourself out, don’t sprint out of the racing gate
- ….pace yourself.
- Aristotle calls this the ‘intermediate’. (ch 2)
- Not too much…not too little but always “just right” relative to the person in question.
- The best state is ‘intermediate’.
- It is an important component of the eudaimonian (happy) life.
- It helps you run farther and for longer periods of time
- …rather than if you tried to plow through the distance just running.
- It allows you to gain control …
- and you can feel good on every single running segment.
- I intend to apply Galloway’s method for #NoSugar and #RWR.
- Aristotle said: We grow into the good life…
- moral virtues are acquired
- …through repetition:
- Surprised how easy my first day of ‘detox’ went.
- I woke up refreshed and smiling!
- This was easier than my attempt in Oct 2015.
- I think is is because I know how awful it feels to sink into the ‘sugar addiction’….again.
- I’m approaching this from a new angle using Aristotle’s guidance and perspective.
- In chapters 2-7 Aristotle teaches me how to be virtuous.
- Virtue is a state of character…not a passion, not a skill but a state.
- Types of virtues: intellectual and moral. Aristotle highlights the moral virtues.
- #NoSugar must NOT be a mindless habit (Oct 2015)
- ….but a well thought out decision (prohairesis)
- This virtue is called ‘temperance’ (self-control) (ch 2)
- …which is difficult to achieve for ‘ ALL or NOTHING Nancy.
- Aristotle told me on the first day:
- ….a person living a eudaimonian life (happy) is NEVER miserable.
- Now, that was music to my ears!
- If Aristotle can teach me NOT to be depressed….I’m willing to listen!
- Aristotle explains in ch 2 we must act for the sake of eudaimonia (happiness)
- …and not for the sake of feeling noble, admirable or proud (kalon).
- Aristotle argues that a person lives a eudaimonian life
- …if he possesses AND exercises the virtues of character.
- If you read a book as ‘philosophical’ as this one
- …it is easier to understand if you apply it to you life at the moment.
- #NoSugar + Aristotle + virtue of temperance (self-control) = eudaimonian life!
Comment from Cleo: Classical Carousel
Great post, Nancy! I’m smiling as I type. I would say that Aristotle and Augustine are both good choices for mentors. Best of luck. I’m not certain how one can live in Europe and avoid sugar, but if I figure it out, I’ll let you know!
Nancy: Now, I have reached a state of eudaimonia already! Having made you smile is a ‘supreme good’ that I enjoy for it’s own sake. The feeling of eudaimonia (happiness) is complete because a smile is a smile and cannot be improved! (ch 1). Thanks so much for comment…it will help me get started on this difficult day. I’m sure to feel a major headache while I detox from sugar!
Comment from Brona: Brona’s Books Luck xo
Nancy: Thanks…..and Aristotle and St. Augustine send their love to ‘ Down Under’ !
Comment from Carol: Journey-and-Destination: Nancy, this is serious dedication to getting the most out of your reading! All the best with this.
- Core thoughts of Aristotle in Nicomachean Ethics:
- Virtue ethics does not focus on actions being right or wrong,
- …but on how to be a good person.
- I enjoyed comparing Plato (teacher) and Aristotle (student).
- I wanted to learn all I could from Aristotle and
- …using his ideas for my #NoSugar challenge
- …helped me stay focused while reading the book.
- You have to drag the wisdom into the 21th C and discover that
- ….human beings remain constant
- ….only the times around us change.
- Question that drives this book:
- what is the ‘supreme’ good or best good for human beings?
- Happiness. (eudaimonia)
- Now the hard question…what makes you happy?
- Every night I say to myself….“I’m still on planet eudaimonia”.