What would Aristotle say is most important when assessing their virtue and why?
Aristotles Nicomachean Ethics Books
We started this class by looking at the example of Rosa Parks. In that first lecture, I asked a number of questions about her particular case that I hoped to provide answers to as we went through Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Now that we are working on Aristotle, I would like you to apply the materials from Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics Books One and Two to a real-world example.
To do this, you will need to focus on an example of a virtuous person who made sacrifices and perhaps even suffered for their virtue. Rosa Parks is a good example. You aren’t writing a biography, and so you only need to include particular facts when they are relevant to the philosophical points you are trying to make.
Using your example, explain how we the person in question can be seen as an example of Aristotle’s claims about the relation between virtue, “function,” and happiness. What would Aristotle say is most important when assessing their virtue and why? Moreover, how would Aristotle defend the claim that your chosen example attained the best chance of personal happiness even though they may have suffered imprisonment, loss of life, or great personal sacrifice?
Hello. We are now in week nine. We’re starting Aristotle. We’re going to do it for the last two weeks, which isn’t a ton of time, but I think it’s going to be sufficient to give you a broad overview of how Aristotle views ethics and in particular, what’s distinctive about his approach to ethics, but also to philosophy. Aristotle, someone will see who’s very interested in method. How do you do philosophy and why? So let’s get right to it. So the first bit here, the first part of this lecture, I call it understanding happiness, ends and goods. As you will see, as we will see when we go through this. The Nicomachean Ethics is a book about what is translated as happiness. Okay? The Greek word which we’ll see later is eudaimonia, translated happiness. I think you can’t go wrong if you imagine human flourishing as what’s at issue when we think of happiness. So the first bit, understanding happiness. This book is in a sense a book about that. And part one, end and good. So here is the very first sentence of this work, the Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotle says, every end and every inquiry and likewise every action and decision seems to seek some good. That is why some people were right to describe the good as what everything Sikhs. But the ends appear to differ. Summer activities and others are products apart from the activities. Wherever their ends apart from the actions, the products are by nature better than the activities. Okay, So we get already a major departure from the style that we saw in Plato course, the dialogue style. Also though, there is a certain poetry to Plato’s style that you will see is completely absent from Aristotle. We just get a fairly straightforward discussion of how things are. And Aristotle in particular is very interested in what we might call taxonomy. Figuring out a domain by drawing distinctions within it. Okay, so here he’s making some claims. His claims are about what he calls every end and every inquiry, every action and decision. He’s telling us something about everything that we do. So what’s he telling us? Well, first of all, the difficulty of this claim, which is a difficulty that I think often happens. Philosophy, is that we’re getting a very, very abstract claim here. It’s very general. And it’s abstract. That’s not always a problem. Sometimes things are trapped because we’re trying to be general. And this is, I think certainly the case here. So Aristotle seems to be making a general claim that he thinks covers every single thing that we do. We human beings do. Whether it’s intellectual, technical, moral, or political. I mention those things because if you look, we have inquiry, action, decision. These all look like words related to those things, right? Intellectual, we get inquiry. So every time we ask a question, we try to figure something out. We’re trying to seek something that we view as good. Maybe we want knowledge. That’s why we want to figure it out. Maybe we want to figure it out because we think that figuring it out will help us improve our lives. Maybe we want to figure it out because we think we can make money that way. Okay? These are all reasons why we might engage in inquiry. We might want to find a cure for something. There’s all kinds of reasons. Engage in inquiry. Every action, everything we do with our bodies essentially. I walked to the fridge and get a glass of water. Why do I do that? Because I’m thirsty and I believe that having water might be good for me. I might also believe it will help me to alleviate suffering if I’m very thirsty, I might believe it will give me pleasure. If I’m very thirsty. Every moral action. Do seems to seek some good. That’s certainly true. By definition. If we think as a consequentialist does, that moral actions are just by definition, actions that produce the best consequences, right? Because that is just a fancy way of saying they produce the most good. But Aristotle, as we’ll see, also means this in another way. He also wants to say that every moral decision we make actually is made because it’s good for us. It’s a way for us to flourish or be happy as human beings. Political, we will see here I’ve put that in for a reason. Because as we will see very soon in this lecture, Aristotle thinks of what he’s doing in this inquiry as simultaneously moral and political. Everything that he’s saying here, when he’s talking about human happiness or human flourishing is something that a politician can use on a community to improve the happiness of a community. It’s also something that an individual can use to improve their own life. Question, what Aristotle? Same here? And secondly, is it true? It depends on how we understand it, right? I’m just saying here are these two kingdoms are connected, right? Obviously. So question is the idea that everything we do, every line of inquiry we pursue, and every decision we make has at least something good about it. That’s one way to understand this. So you could think of counter-examples in cases like this. But even that, I think there’s something to be said for this claim, for it being true. All right, so someone might say, well, what about a bully? A bully does something and there’s nothing good about what a bully does. And if you wanted to defend this thesis, you could say, look, I understand that overall the bullies action is bad, certainly bad for the individuals bullied, and maybe even for the bully themselves. But at very least, the bully perhaps derives pleasure from the bullying. This isn’t to say that this is a good way to derive pleasure. Or to say that the fact that the bully derives pleasure from the Act makes it All things considered a good thing to do, right? It can be a horrible thing to do. But insofar as anyone chooses, there has to be something to be said for it. This could be the claim that Aristotle’s make, making, right? So anything anyone does, there’s something to be said for it, even if ultimately it’s a horrible decision. Or another question is the idea that even though some of our actions and decisions might have nothing good about them, they at least appear good to the individual who choose system. This would be a slightly different claim. It would be putting the emphasis on the word seek. Aristotle says, seems to seek some good. Alright, so we’re always looking for some good example. A man fighting for racial segregation is doing nothing good. But at least in their own mind, they are, when they think they’re doing good. So perhaps the claim is about what we believe whenever we do anything. I think ultimately we will see that Aristotle holds a position that really incorporates to some extent both of these points. We won’t have a chance to talk about what Aristotle says about pleasure. But for those of you who are doing the Aristotle class with me now or who have done Aristotle and I’ve done this. You will recall that Aristotle does think that to the extent that an action is pleasant, it is to that same extent, something that he says he’s choice worthy. Aristotles Nicomachean Ethics BooksWhich isn’t of course to say that you should choose it in the circumstances. Because it might be that given all of the relevant circumstances, what you have most reason to do is choose something else. All right, so let’s say I decide to engage in really self-destructive behavior because I’m angry. And at very least what I do makes me feel better for 30 seconds. Now, overall, that was a horrible thing for me to do. An overall, it was a horrible thing for me to do it because it has brought far more that into my life and good. What Aristotle seems to believe is that insofar as at least I felt a bit of pleasure, that part of it was good. Everything else was. So Aristotle I think, is committed to some version of the first-class. The second claim aristotle also is committed to. He’s committed to the idea that we typically do when things are going correctly. What we think rationally considered is the best thing for us to do. There were also cases though, where we act against our better judgment. Those are cases where we in fact act against what we think is good. This is exactly like Plato. One of the things to say right at the outset is that aristotle inherits from Plato the idea of a tripartite soul. So Aristotle soul also has reason, spirit, and appetite. And they have roughly the same functions in Aristotle’s picture. So along with that comes the possibility of OCR Xia of acting against our better judgment in such cases. We do exactly what we don’t think is good. Even then, no, Aristotle will end up saying that we choose those actions because they give us pleasure. And so there is an explanation of the action that appeals to something good about it that would explain why we have chosen it. Okay. We could have further questions about this claim. What about actions from spite? If you do something just to spite someone else, harmful to you, but you’ve made someone else feel worse. Again, we could say this isn’t a great thing to do. But maybe to the extent that you get enjoyment from that, to that extent there’s something to be said for your action. Actions under coercion or duress. Meaning, what if we act in circumstances where someone is say, you know, threatening us, if you don’t give me your wallet, I’m going to hurt you even there, right? We can see how this claim can make sense, right? And Aristotle, we’ll talk about this. We won’t get a chance to look at it. But in Book 3, Aristotle talks about this quite a bit. And his position there is going to be that in fact, even in those circumstances, we choose, in most cases, the thing that we think is best. So, you know, we don’t want to give the money to the person trying to Mongos. But it’s at least the best thing to do in the circumstances, right? The best available option is not to be hurt. And so to that extent I am doing something I think of as good. We can also think of whims, right? There are times when people just do things. Say I did it on a whim, I didn’t really have a reason. Those things are harder to deal with. But of course, we might just want to do something spontaneous and we can think that spontaneity as good. Alright, so there’s different ways to understand this. On another understanding of this claim though, I think that it is so uncontroversial that it in fact functions as a kind of constraint on what it is that we’re doing when we understand anyone else’s behavior as rational. So what is rational behavior? Rational behavior is something that we do for a reason. So I say in the second bullet point here, what’s the difference between your intentionally stepping on my foot and accidentally doing it? What’s the difference between an R movement caused by a decision? I’ve decided to move my arm and one caused by a reflex or a nervous tic. While a plausible suggestion that lots of people make is that the rational intentional behaviours, the things I did on purpose, are in some sense caused by the thought that this particular behavior is good in some way. And I don’t need to have explicitly in my mind, I kind of thought bubble that says this is good. But if I’m acting intentionally, meaning I know what I’m doing and I’m doing it on purpose. We do tend to think that that is what it is that’s going on, right? So arguably, what allows us to figure out when someone has merely moves their body, say because of a reflex or a nervous tic. Vs. Have they actually made a decision or are they doing this on purpose? Is that the person in the case of intentional action had a thought. And the thought is of the kind. This is good to do. Okay? So you could think that this in fact serves as a constraint on our understanding of whether or not someone has done something as an expression of their intentional or rational capacities for action. If someone has move their body. And we want to figure out whether what they did reflects their use of their rational capacities in some way or another. One question to ask, of course, is, did they do it on purpose? Well, what is on purpose means, it means did they do it because they thought there was something good about their action. Okay, so I think a plausible thing to think about what Aristotle saying in this first sentence is that it’s true. And that in fact, it’s not even really controversial because that’s what it means to understand behavior as a human behavior as opposed to say, a mere reflex. So we’ve got in the first sentence some claim about rational human behavior. Some claim for the behaviors that we engage in that express in some sense or another, our use of our capacities for rationality. And that is that there is always when something that we do is in some way or another, an expression of our restaurant all capacities. There’s always something that we take to be good about the action that we’ve chosen. Now Aristotle makes that first claim. He immediately follows it up with a second one, but the ends that are sought appear to differ. Summer activities and others are products apart from the activities. Now, you might have a question, what are the square brackets? The square brackets indicate that Irwin has added something to make the text more intelligible or even just smoother. Aristotle’s writing for whatever reason, there are different theories about why this might be is often very, very point form. And that means that in order to get a grammatical and intelligible English sentence, you often need to add something or other, okay? When we do a good job at this, of course, you want to add something that is the least controversial, philosophically, meaning we don’t want to presuppose anything. That is a matter for debate in our translation. Now, of course, if we think that we can argue on independent grounds that that’s the thing that we should add. Then of course, we can add that. The point is we don’t want to presuppose are philosophical position when we’re doing translation. So There’s been an addition here. We’re going to see that fairly often. So what’s Aristotle saying here? The ends that are sought appear to differ summer activities and others are products apart from the activities. Well, it looks like he’s distinguishing between different goals or ends that you might have when you make a rational choice, rational decision, or engage in a rational action. In some cases, the goal or end that you are trying to get is a product that is external to the activity. Okay, So for example, I am building a house. I want at the end of the day to have a house, or I want to have a house so I can sell it and have money. So in one important set of cases, what I’m doing when I’m acting rationally is trying to get something that my action produces. In other cases though, our goal is just to perform the activity. If I watch a movie, say I’m not trying to make anything, I’m just trying to enjoy myself perhaps. Okay? So Aristotle thinks that there is always a goal or an end when we do something, when we choose something. And in some cases, the activity itself as a goal. And in other cases, the goal is some external product that the activity creates. Now we can usually tell if an activity has a product by asking ourselves whether there’s something that when we have produced it, would bring this activity to a suitable or appropriate clothes. When I cook a meal, for example, I continue cooking the food until it’s ready to eat, right? I don’t keep frying an egg just for the fun of it, the thrill of it. I am trying to make something that I can eat and that will be tasty. And so I know when to stop when there is a product. When an activity doesn’t have a product, There’s nothing that once it’s there, brings the activity to a close. All right, if I’m just flying a kite for the sheer pleasure it should say of it. There’s nothing that’s being made that tells me, Okay, I need to stop now. At some point I might think I need to stop now, but that’s always going to be because I’m tired or because there’s something else that I should be doing or because it’s not pleasurable anymore. But there’s nothing made. I say this because there are cases where the product, so to speak, of our action isn’t necessarily tangible. There are cases, for example, where what I am doing creates, for example, a state of understanding. We might think of that as product-driven. I’m memorizing something. I’m not doing that just for the fun of it. I’m doing it to produce something in myself. And I think that would be treated as an external product case for Aristotle. So we have a third claim that follows on these first two. Whenever there are ends apart from the actions, the products are by nature better than the activities. What’s Aristotle saying here? Well, one thing that would be especially strong that Aristotle might be saying here, I think too strong to be. A reasonable thing to say, is that, in fact, there are never cases where people do things just because they enjoy the process when there is a product. So this would be saying that whenever There’s a product produced, no one would ever do the activity. That would lead to that product just for the sake of doing the activity. And there are counter-examples. You might not be at the stage where you are able to produce a good product. And so you’re practicing, a lot of times if you’re practicing a new skill and you’re making something, your first few attempts are not very good. You’re learning. And in those cases, you’re doing what you’re doing for the sake of the activity. Now of course, even here, we could, if we wanted, say, well actually in those cases what we are doing is trying to get a product as well. Because we’re trying to create a state of proficiency in ourselves. Because we’ve been here. If we really open up what we think of as an external product, we could even treat these practice cases of that kind. What about people though, who just do something for font? Aristotles Nicomachean Ethics BooksThat looks like it might be being denied here. Like maybe I say in the third PowerPoint, what about people who just knit for fun? I think even here, is that Aristotle isn’t saying this strong thing. He’s not trying to deny that people, you know, ever engage in an activity that produces a product just because they enjoy the activity or because they enjoy the activity more. What he’s saying here is that by nature, the products are by nature better than the activities. For Aristotle by nature is a very common phrase. Okay? And what he tells us about it is that when something happens by nature, it happens always or for the most part. And in fact, great number of the kinds of things that Aristotle will say happened by nature fall into the latter category. They don’t happen always in the way that they’re supposed to happen by nature. But usually they do. So. For example, Aristotle thinks that usually in most cases, when a parent, say a tree or a dog, a human being has a child, the offspring that they have will bear some resemblance to the parent. But that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes are also children that might be born without say one of their limbs. That can happen to that isn’t though, what happens? For the most part. Okay? So this is just to say that when Aristotle says here, the products are by nature better than the activity, He’s just really saying usually. And I think that is correct. There’s more that he saying here because By nature for Aristotle, when he says is it also introduces the idea that these cases are in some sense primary and the other cases are best understood with the background of the primary case in mind. Okay, So the way that Aristotle understands, say the reproduction example, is that some forces are occurring that haven’t, you know, that are aimed at a certain outcome. And those processes have in some sense failed to get that outcome. And so even those cases where things don’t match up, when Aristotle says something’s by nature, it is usually the result of a failure that occurred in the process. Okay. Now we can apply this to the current case and we can say something like, Look, when someone does do something that has a product for fun. Really. That is to be understood against the backdrop of the standard case, which is that there is this activity that we typically do to produce a product. So for example, a knitting. You can engage in knitting for fun. But if you think about it, you can’t really knit for fun. Unless you’re trying. Not very fun to just sort of pick up some string and move it around a little bit. It’s not, There’s nothing fun about that. It certainly can’t keep you occupied for hours. And really, you can only truly enjoy knitting if you are trying to knit something. So even in this case, we see that these cases where we’re not doing it because we think the product is better. We’re still doing it with the idea of a product. Okay? And so these cases that deviate from the natural are also in some sense explicable only with the idea of what normally happens in the background. So next slide, what is Aristotle doing here? And this is really the important question about what we’ve seen so far. So Aristotle’s made a bunch of very general claims about everything that we are rational beings do. Every action, decision inquiry we engage in is in some sense, trying to get something that we think is good. Now, in many cases, the thing that we want That’s good is an external product. In those cases, the product is by nature better than the activity. In other cases, there is no product. In those cases. It has to be that the reason we’re doing, why we’re doing is because there’s something about the activity itself that is good. So why is Aristotle saying these things? And more importantly, this is supposed to be a work of ethics. Why is it that someone would talk about this and it’ll work of ethics? Well, it might be strange depending on what our conception of ethics is to find this. But it reveals something very important about what Aristotle’s up to. Recall that what Aristotle is doing here is really innocent. Figuring out what human flourishing or human happiness resides in. And one thing I think that human flourishing or human happiness is going to involve on controversially, is making good choices. You can’t possibly be happy if you make bad choices. Part of what Aristotle is trying to do here is tell us what the general structure of choice looks like so that we can rule out certain ways of valuing things that might be inappropriate. To take an example, some people might be more concerned with acquiring things like money or fame. More than they’re concerned about doing things that make them happy. And they might want money or fame more than they want the things that money and fame can help them do. Now based on what Aristotle has said about activities and products thus far, it looks like he’s going to say, in fact, will say this, that this attitude towards money and fame is in some sense irrational. And it’s irrational because it gets the structure of value wrong in a significant way. Why is that? Well, because money is something that is in some sense a product of several activities that we might engage in. And in most cases by nature, when we do those things, where our primary motivation is going to be the money. Not always, but in many cases, if we’re doing something as a job, it is counterfactually true that if we weren’t being paid, we probably wouldn’t do it. And in many cases if we weren’t being paid well, we wouldn’t do it and sometimes, well doesn’t just mean exactly what we need to survive. So the idea here is that we work to make money. And the further idea is if we think that we just want money for its own sake, then we’re getting it wrong. Because actually, what money is, is something that can help us do other things that we enjoy, right? And so if we just get money and put it in a bank or put it under our about our buret. That’s valuing money in the wrong way. Okay. It’s a product, yes. And so typically when we make money, we actually do want the money more than we want the thing that we’re doing to get it. Nevertheless, money, when properly understood, has only instrumental value. And what we want to do ultimately is use it to engage in some activity that we enjoy. Okay, so we can, by looking at the ways that things can be valuable. Figure out something important about the structure of choice that can help us make better decisions. Now one of the things that we can conclude if we think ahead a bit from what Aristotle seems to be saying here is that if he’s on the right track, it seems that if we have some ultimate goal, if there is something for which we in some sense do everything else that we do, that ultimate goals should turn out to be an intrinsically valuable activity. Because if it’s a product, products are typically things that we want if we think about it because we use them. In fact, in all cases, we want a product because we use it even if using just means in the case of say, an art object looking at for enjoyment. Right? But typically I build a house. Why? Well, not just because I want the house, although I engage in house building typically because I want the house. Would then next question, why do I want the house? Well, I want the house to live in it. All right, So it looks like if we can find eventually some satisfying answer to every y question that we might pose to someone. Why are you doing that? Because I want a house. Why do you want a house? Because I want money. Why do you want money? Because I want to spend it. Well, what? Why do want to spend it? Because spending it allows me to do things that I can enjoy. Where this all ends up when we’ve answered all these questions and we’ve reached a point where really we can’t sensibly be asked any further questions. Is going to be an intrinsically valuable activity, something that we do whose value lies only in what we’re doing. This is going to turn out for Aristotle to be called happiness. So moving on. Since there are many actions, crafts and Sciences, the ends turn out to be many as well. For health is the end of Madison. A boat, of boat building, victory of generalship and wealth of household management. But some of these pursuits are subordinate to someone capacity. For instance, bridle making in every other science producing equipment for horses are subordinate to horsemanship. While this in every action in warfare are in turn subordinate in generalship. And in the same way, other pursuits are subordinate to further ones. So what does it mean for an end to be subordinate? We’re seeing this word an awful lot. What does that mean? Well, the first thing to notice here is that Aristotle is continuing his train of thought on the goals or ends of actions, crafts and sciences. There are many actions, crafts and Sciences. And since each of these we already know has some. And it follows that rational activity involves many different ends. When I engage in a particular craft, I’m trying to make something of a particular sort. That’s why house building is different from say, sculpting. And what Aristotle is telling us here is that all of these different products that are made by all of these different crafts are not just a random collection. Some of them are subordinate to others. So bridle making, he says, is subordinate to horsemanship, horsemanship to generalship. And there are two things here that Aristotle seems to have in mind. The first. And most obvious one. If one end is subordinate to another, it is true to say that its value is by nature conditional on the value and existence of the other. So bridle making a bridle is something that you use to ride a horse is subordinate to horsemanship. Because if we didn’t ride horses, bridle making would be useless. Aristotle also assume here that the primary reason for riding horses would be in a battle. And so if we didn’t have generals who would be in charge of moving the troops around in a battle. We wouldn’t need horsemanship. So the first reason that we can say that the ends are subordinate is because the value of the n’s that are lower, as Aristotle says, on the chain, is contingent on the existence in value of the ends that are higher. I add n value here because it would also be the case that bridle making would be worthless or useless to us if we could ride horses or did, and it wasn’t of any value. The second thing it means for a subordinate and to be a subordinate end is that it will take its orders from a superordinate and super-ordinate is the opposite of subordinate. The one on top. The horsemen is told what to do, how to ride horses. By the general. The general decides how much horse riding there should be of what sort. And when. I tell Aristotle understand the relationship here, because again, for Aristotle, the primary use of horses is going to be in battle. And so since status the case, the general is going to be the one who decides these things. The horse rider in turn is going to tell the bridle maker what sorts of bridal SYM-Q, how many? And so on. Because it is the person who rides the horse. Aristotle assumes who will know Vast what kinds of bridles are needed to win the battles that they are engaging in. So this doesn’t mean that the work of the subordinate ends is completely without independent value. Someone can, can make a bridle that is extremely well-made and maybe even has, in some cases some aesthetic appeal. So it’s not merely functional. That’s also something that is nice to look at and it’s well-designed. What it does mean though, is that the bridle maker decides, say, to make a sort of bridle that would be fancier, more complicated, perhaps even shows off the mastery of the art involved in making these things. If the bridle maker decides to make that kind of bridal. But it isn’t the case that this is going to be useful to the person riding the horse. Given the kinds of battles that are being waged on the orders of the general. The bridle maker will be told to do things differently. And if Aristotle is correct here, the bridle maker will have to listen or else will not be performing. The function assigned to. Bridle maker as well. Also will be producing a product that is of far less value than it could be. That’s what it means to say that the value of the subordinate end is conditional on the value and existence of the superordinate ends. So we’ve learned here what it means for one end to be subordinate. We don’t quite understand where Aristotle is going with this. Yeah. The next thing he says, in all such cases than at the ends of the ruling sciences are more choice worthy than all the end subordinate to them. Since the lower ends are also pursued for the sake of the higher. Here it does not matter whether the ends of the actions are the activities themselves. Or something apart from them, as in the sciences we have mentioned. So we get a further claim here, which in fact, I think follows on what I just said about value. Value contingency. The end of the rule in sciences are more choice worthy, meaning that they are more worthy of rational choice. So let’s take a look at what Aristotle means. He introduces the term choice worthy here, I first out that this is going to become an important term in this book. Aristotle will in fact use it when he’s talking about things like pleasure, when he’s talking about things like friendship. He will also use it. And for our purposes, this is the most important use when he is trying to figure out what happiness must be like. And remember here the idea is that all of the goals we have will eventually reach their combination in some one goal that we are trying to achieve when we do anything. That is our own flourishing or happiness to live well. So when I say here is that it will be important in a later argument, this term, choice worthy when Aristotle tries to figure out what the ultimate end of a well-lived life should look like. As I said on the last slide, choice worthy means more worthy of informed rational choice. By nature. What I mean by informed rational choice is that if someone is rational, if they’re thinking about things in a way that we could say reflects the reasons that they have and they have good information about the situation. That person would choose this thing rather than someone else. So, to get a sense of what Aristotle saying, imagine, for example, that I could have either bridle making or horsemanship. It would make no sense. Aristotle is suggesting here to choose bridle making and not have horsemanship. Because if Aristotle is right, the only interest a rational person would have, or certainly the primary interest or rational person would have in bridle making would be for horse riding. And if we don’t have horsemanship, we cannot do that. And so we don’t really have used for the bridle. Thus, in this case, if we are fully informed and rational, it would be better to keep generalship and horsemanship and find another way to accomplish whatever we were using the bridles for. The lower ends are pursued for the sake of the higher end. So they are also governed by the needs of these higher ends. Again, as I said, a bridle maker might want to make a very ornate bridal. But ultimately it’s the horse rider who decides what gets made and even what constitutes a good or a bad bridle. There is a critical point that emerges here. And that is important for understanding the way in which Aristotle thinks about the relationship between subordinate and super ordinate at, and this is that subordinate ends can be chosen for themselves for the sake of themselves. And I am inferring this from something Aristotle explicitly says. He says here it does not matter whether the ends of the actions are the activities themselves or something apart from them. As in the sciences we have mentioned. And recall the context here. Aristotle is talking about all such cases, meaning all the cases where one end is subordinate to another. And what he’s telling about such cases is that even in those cases where the subordinate and has value in itself, it is still going to be the case that if there is a superordinate and above it that superordinate and we’ll control govern the activities of the subordinate and, and the and that is super-ordinate will be more choice worthy than the end that is subordinate. So this suggests that there are going to be some activities that are pursued both for their own sakes, both because they provide value to us, and also for the sake of something else to which they are subordinate. Okay? It’s complicated, but essentially this means that we don’t have to say in the case of many ends, that they are either chosen for the sake of something else or chosen for the sake of themselves. We can sometimes have an end that is chosen both for the sake of itself and for the sake of something else. Meaning we find the activity involved in that thing, or perhaps even the end that it produces valuable in its own right. But we also value it because it can be used in some other activity. And since Aristotle here is telling us that in such cases, the value of the lower thing depends on the value of the higher thing. What he’s saying here is that in those cases it would certainly be more choice worthy to have the higher without the lower. Okay? So the, the main point here still stands that the value of the lower ends. And this, in these kinds of cases can’t mean all of the value. It will have to mean something like more of the value or most of the value. It’s still going to depend on the value of the superordinate and above it. Okay? It’s just that, that doesn’t rule out that the subordinate and has value in itself. Okay, so Aristotle I say, must mean this because he’s telling us that the claim that lower ands are subordinate to higher ones applies even to those ends that are valuable in themselves. Aristotle doesn’t here tell us what activities he means when he says that there might be cases where something is pursued for its own sake and for the sake of something else. And I think this is because all of his examples here are said to have products apart from themselves. That’s why I think he says it doesn’t matter because he’s recognizing that here.
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His examples are confined to cases where the ends of the actions are not the activities themselves. The ends of bridle making is going to be producing a bridle. And so we don’t really get here examples of the kind he has in mind when he makes this qualification. And so we have to imagine what such cases are going to look like. What I suggest here, following a suggestion made by Irwin, who is the translator of the addition of the ethics that we are using, is that Aristotle here has in mind the relationship between happiness, our final end, and the different ends that comprise it. The idea being that happiness is an end that is in a way made up of other end. So for example, pleasure is a part of happiness. But we would want pleasure even if we weren’t happy. Okay, so ideally, when we have pleasure, it’s going to be part of a larger whole that we can give the name happiness too. But that doesn’t mean that pleasure by itself doesn’t have value, even if it’s not contributing to that whole. One of the ways that Irwin tries to explain this, and I think it’s a very good one. Isn’t saying there are cases where Aristotle would describe something as something that’s chosen for the sake of something else, but also as something that’s chosen for the sake of itself. And this occurs whenever the thing chosen for the sake of something else isn’t just a means to an end, but is instead a constitutive part or one says of the higher end. The example Irwin, he gives here is to say that a movement in a particular symphony can be most valuable as part of the whole symphony. And so the best way to value that particular movement, say there’s four movements in the symphony, is as part of the whole. When we fully appreciate this thing, we choose it. As part of a whole symphony. But that doesn’t mean that we can also choose the movement by itself for the sake of itself. And in fact, even when we choose it for the sake of the whole symphony that it is part of. We are still choosing it in a sense, on the basis of its own value. Because the value of the whole is going to be, even if it’s not, you know, ultimately reducible to the value of its parts is going to be in some sense, constituted by the value of its parts. So I’m suggesting here that what Aristotle has in mind when he makes this comment is the relationship between different activities that are part of happiness. And that therefore ideally we would choose as part of a complete happy life. But that nevertheless have value that goes beyond just being a means to happiness. They’re actually part of happiness. And so they are part of what it means to be happy. The activities that Aristotle most likely has in mind here, R2, one of them being excellent use of our rationality in moral or ethical decision-making. Using our rationality to make good choices about how to act. And excellent use of our rationality in cases of theoretical reasoning. Using our rationality to figure out truths about the world around us that we want to know simply because knowledge is itself valuable. So the suggestion here is that when we choose either of these two things, ideally, we would choose the both of them as part of one single hole. That is the happy life. But that doesn’t mean that these things just some way to get to some and external to happiness itself rather they are parts of happiness. And so even if we can just have the one of the two and not both, It’s still going to have value. So that is the first chapter of book 1. We’re now going to move on to Chapter 2, where Aristotle introduces another line of reasoning that’s supposed to help us understand happiness again. Okay, So we started one line of reasoning. We’re kinda putting a pause on it. And now we’re going to look at some other considerations. These have to do with what Aristotle calls political science. One thing to point out here, and before we start is that these chapter breaks and this goes for all of the Aristotelian Corpus are not in Aristotle’s original text. They were added by later editor. It’s a good idea to start a new chapter here because as I’ve indicated, Aristotle seems to start a new line of reasoning. But when we’re thinking about this taxed, certainly when we’re doing it at a more professional level, we don’t want to assume that the chapter breaks going to tell us anything that we can use in an argument. They don’t offer significant pieces of evidence as to what Aristotle is AP2. So Aristotle says at the beginning of the second chapter that we have in front of us. Suppose then the things achievable by action have some and that we wish for because of itself and because of which we wish for the other things. And that we do not choose everything because of something out. For. If we do, it will go on without limit. So that desire will prove to be empty and futile. Clearly this end will be good. That is to say the best good. With reference to the point that I just brought up. You can see here that even though we’ve started a new chapter, Aristotle is really saying something in the very first bit that is a continuation of the line of thought that we just started. So I actually think that this bit would be better placed at the end of the first chapter and maybe start the second chapter when we actually switch to political science in the next bit. Nevertheless, this is what we have. So Aristotle here introduces in some ways the culmination of what he has said earlier. We are to imagine that the things achievable in our actions have some end that we wish for because of itself. And because of which we wish for the other things. This is the first time that Aristotle has suggested. All of our activities might gain most of their value from their participation in some larger hole. Okay, we call this a final end. We’re getting here the suggestion that in a well-lived life, we ought to have some one thing that we think we’re doing. That’s going to be call for Aristotle trying to be happy that everything else that we’re doing in some way is an expression of or fits into. Okay? And Aristotle says, suppose you were, this. We’re, something we’re supposed to imagine. And Aristotle quickly goes from this hypothetical mode where we’re saying imagine f and quickly moves to an argument that’s meant to establish that this kind of supposition has to be correct. He says, If we don’t eventually get to some end that we wish to have because of itself. All of our desires will be empty and futile. We will never reach a good that fully justifies our activities. I think Aristotle here is going to be exaggerating because he has suggested that there can be things that are chosen both for their own sakes and for the sake of something higher. And so if you have those things without the sake of the higher thing, it wouldn’t be futile to have those things or completely empty. I think Aristotle here is using a bit of hyperbole. What he means to suggest is that if you could have a life that just had any one of those subordinate ends and didn’t have a final end that we just wanted for its own sake. That life wouldn’t really be meaningful. It wouldn’t be worth having. Okay, so to give a clear example of the kind of thing aristotle says in this direction, pleasure has value in itself. But Aristotle doesn’t think a life that just consists in pleasure is going to be a life that is meaningful and that a human being would want to have, it would ultimately turn out to be empty. And that’s because pleasure is certainly of independent value. But ultimately, for us, happiness includes more than that. And in fact, a life worth living needs to include more than that. So putting that aside, Aristotle is saying that if I choose a for the sake of B, B for the sake of C, and so on. And I don’t ultimately arrive at something that I choose only for its own sake, my actions will be empty and futile. This is ultimately to say that I’m choosing each of these for no reason. Of course, with the qualification I just mentioned. We’re not choosing them for no reason because they can still be valued in themselves. But we aren’t really choosing them for a reason that would be sufficient to make our lives worthwhile. And that’s because the value of each link in the chain, the bulk of the value is going to be conditional on the value of the things above it. And ultimately, if our chain therefore doesn’t reach an endpoint that is just valued for its own sake. Nothing in the chain is going to be worth choosing. In the sense of worth choosing because it makes a life meaningful and worth having. So there’s an infinite regress argument here. If we don’t eventually get to some ultimate item, that justifies having all of the other things in life that’s worth living. We’re not going to have a life that’s worth living. So Aristotle here thinks that he has given an argument for the claim that there is some final end, some best good that we choose only for the sake of itself. If there is such a thing, it will be the good and the best good. Again, note that Aristotle hasn’t yet given us an example of such an end. In the previous section, he listed only bridle making, horsemanship and generalship. And none of these things has value in itself. All of these things we do for the sake of something else. We don’t want them for their own sakes. We fight wars and have generals only for the sake of peace. Notice also that Aristotle doesn’t suggest here yet that every human being has to have one and the same end. Okay? When he supposes that there is an end that we choose for itself and only for itself. The verb here that he’s using choosing can be applied to the collective as a unified whole or to the members of the collective taken individually. So I’m saying here that what Aristotle is suggesting doesn’t mean that the final end for each of us has to look the same. Now Aristotle does ultimately argue for Something like that claim, because he does think there’s an objectivity here and that it is possible to be mistaken about what your happiness is best realized by. I’m only pointing out that here and nothing he says presupposes this. And to make this point, I want us to focus on the difference between a statement like we are family and a statement like we all have a job to do. So if I say we are family, that means that we are all members of the same family. So this statement, we are family, is one in which the verb is applied to the collective as a unified whole. We are family means we are all family to one another. We’re all part of the same family. We all have a job to do. Isn’t like that. If I say we all have a job to do, that doesn’t mean that we all have the same job. We can all have different jobs to do. This is a case where the verb is applied to all members of the collective taken individually. Likewise, if I say we all have a highest good, that doesn’t need to be taken as a statement that applies to the collective as a unified whole meaning we all have the same end. It might be something that’s meant to apply to the collective in terms of each of its individual members. Meaning we all have a final end. Maybe it’s the same, maybe it isn’t. As Aristotle continues, He gives us a reason why we would want to know about this best good. He says then, does knowledge of this good Kari, great, wait for our way of life. And would it make us better able like archers who have a target to aim to hit the right mark. If so, we should try to grasp an outline at any rate what the best good is and which is its proper science or capacity. So here, aristotle is telling us why we would want to know about such a best Good. Here we get a suggestion that there might be someone best good. But even here, it’s not necessary. Because it might be that Aristotle is giving us a recipe for us to figure out what our best good looks like, meaning my best good as an individual. And your best good as an individual. And I’m saying this because in fact, Aristotle, when it comes to thinking that there’s one end and thinking that there might be many Ns, Aristotle leans towards objectivity you, but he’s still recognizes great deal of situational variance. Meaning what your best good, ultimately looks like, can depend a lot on features of your situation. So I want to try to keep us somewhere in the middle of the two extremes of thinking. Everyone has an identical best good and thinking that everyone can have their own best good that has nothing to do with the best good that might be had by other people. Moving along, Aristotle continues by saying, it seems proper. The, IT here being the knowledge of the best good to the most, control and science, the highest ruling signed. And this appears characteristic of political science. For it, it is the one that prescribes which of the scientists ought to be studied in cities, and which ones each class in the city should learn. And how far. Indeed, we see that even the most honored capacities, generalship, household management, and rhetoric, for instance, are subordinate to it. So we get here what is often referred to as a fresh start. We are getting here a line of consideration that is supposed to, I think give us another reason to think that there ought to be a highest good for the sake of which we choose everything else. And that gives us some direction as to where to look for that highest good. We’re being told here that whatever that is, it should belong to science. That controls what everything else in our society makes and does. So it’s a fresh start because earlier Aristotle tried to determine the nature of the best good by looking at the ends of the various sciences and their relationships to one another. All right, So we pointed out that there are these different ends we pursue. And we noted is that in many cases, I pursue the end of one science, the end of say, bridle making. For the sake of the end of another science, the end of generalship or horse riding. And we established that when this relationship holds, the lower end in the chain have a value that is in some sense dependent on the value of the higher items in the chain. In some sense here, meaning doesn’t need to be entirely dependent on the higher items in the chain. But certainly mostly or primarily dependent on the value at the higher ends in a chain. Now, we’re looking at the relationships between sciences themselves, the sciences that try to achieve yet. And so we started out looking at the ends. Now we’re going to look at the relationships between the sciences. And by taking this approach, we can ask ourselves will, okay, if it’s true that there are all of these ends and that there are a bunch of different sciences that are aimed at trying to secure these ends in our lives. And it’s true that there’s a relationship between these ends whereby some of them are used for the sake of others. And that when that happens, the ends that are higher up that we do other things for the sake of or that we get other ends for the sake of control. The ways in which we pursue the lower ends and give those lower ads most of their value. There is going to end up being some highest science. And even if we don’t yet know exactly what that highest science is trying to achieve. If we look at the sciences in our society, the different forms of expertise that try to achieve certain things to make human life better. There ought to be one that is in control of the others. This pays off immediately because Aristotle believes there is such a science, it’s politics or political sciences. And Aristotle suggests here that ideally, political science is going to prescribe what other scientists should be studied and how much political science aristotle tells us is what gives orders to generals, right? So we make bridles for the sake of horse riding. And the people who ride the horses give the orders to the people who are making the bridles. That’s because the value of the bridles is primarily or entirely dependent on the value of horse riding. The people who ride horses in turn take orders from the generals. And that’s because the value of horse riding is primarily or entirely dependent on the value of winning battles. And that’s what the general is interested in. The general though. Haskell, listen to the politician. The politician decides when battles will be font. The general, of course, can decide how those battles are fought because the general knows military strategy. But the politician is the one who decides we’re going to go to war here. And that suggests that the politician has an end. That makes going to war sometimes justified and rational and sometimes not justified and rational. And it turns out aristotle thinks that the politician doesn’t take orders from anyone further. And so that would suggest that the politicians and is going to be the final good, the ultimate good. That all other things that happen in a society and happen rationally, meaning they happen for a good reason. All of those other ends are going to contribute to. So if we can find out what the politician is aiming at. Dye in turn justifies what the general does. Which in turn justifies what the horse riders do, which in turn justifies what the bridle makers do, and so on. Then we can perhaps get some insight into what the final end looks like. One little question. What does Aristotle doing here? So he’s talking about political science as having a sort of commanding rule that governs everything else. One thing that’s clear as he can’t really be offering an accurate descriptive account of Athens, of his own society. And that’s because if we listen to Socrates and Plato, at any rate, the biggest problem with democratic Athens was that everyone could speak and vote without any expertise. That I think this description, whether or not we think this is a problem, is fairly accurate, at least of Athenian democracy during the period when Socrates and Plato We’re alive. So it can’t be that when Aristotle describes what’s happening here, he thinks this is what happens in all cases. Instead, it seems like he’s envisioning a kind of idealized version of an assembly, like the Athenian assembly where different people speak and vote. The idealized part is that they do so on the basis of a kind of expert political understanding that would be acquired by studying a fully develop science of politics. It doesn’t yet exist in Aristotle’s time, aristotle actually will write a book called The Politics, which he thinks is meant to help develop this fully develop science. The initial stages of such a development. But in Aristotle’s time, you can’t really be studying political science yet. Aristotle will in fact, in some ways establish this as a kind of discipline. So it could be here that Aristotle is describing a kind of ideal. It could also be that he’s describing the way things actually happen, but not giving an objective description. Rather giving a description of what people think they are doing when they speak in the assembly. So it might be that Aristotle is describing the fact that Athenians who speak and vote in the assembly on questions like which wars to fight, which public works to build bridges, roads, so on. They took themselves to have an understanding of what was best for the Paulus, for the city. So if this is true, everybody who is making these political decisions, they do think that they have some expertise that entitles them to make those decisions. And so even if that isn’t yet actually true, in the Athenian democracy, it’s clear that there’s some need for this thing because people are legislating with that assumption in mind. So Aristotle could be pointing out, even if this doesn’t exist yet, there’s no political science to speak of. People are acting as though they know these things. And that is good enough for establishing that there is, in Athenian society some assumption that there will be a highest good and that people who are making political decisions are assuming that there is. So we’ve got now two lines of reasoning. And both of them were aimed at establishing a similar thing that there is some final and that makes the other things that we do worthwhile in the sense of justifying that. Again, the proviso here is that we don’t need this to be so strong that all of the value of the other ends we pursue comes from the value of the final end. Instead, it just needs to be the case that the justifiability of the entire life that includes such things, depends on the existence of the highest end. So the lower things can have some value in themselves. Even when it comes to riding horses. We might think there’s some independent value in doing that well, even if we don’t win a battle. Nevertheless, that independent value wouldn’t be enough to make our lives meaningful or completely meaningful or meaningful in a sense that it would be rational to want to live that kind of life unless there is some final end. On the basis of which were choosing these other things. We then get a consideration that stems not from thinking about the relationship between the ends, but instead looks at the relationships between the sciences that aim at those end. And that leads us again to the same conclusion that there does seem to be some final end. And that claim is now being justified by consideration of the fact that there are different relationships between different sciences and actual society. And the one that seems to control all the others seems to be politics. And so the question is, is it that the politician aims that the answer is going to turn out to be happiness. The politician, as far as Aristotle is concerned, is ideally trying to make decisions that allow individuals in the society to be as happy to lead lives that are as flourishing or as well lived as is possible given whatever circumstances are present. So the politicians job for Aristotle is in fact to figure out what other things should be done and when and by whom. So as to bring about the best chances of individual happiness. Now in this next section, we look at common beliefs that people have and we start giving the name happiness to the final end that the first couple of lines of reasoning we’ve seen indicate must exist. So we’ve taken to pass to get to this conclusion that there’s gotta be some final. And here we’re going to start looking at the name for it. Aristotle says, Let us then begin again. Since every sort of knowledge and decision pursue some good. What is the good that political science seeks? What is the highest of all goods achievable in action. As far as its name goes, most people virtually agree for both the many and the cultivated call it happiness. And they suppose that living well and doing well are the same as being happy. But they disagree about what happiness is. And the many do not give the same answer as the y’s. So we get here a consideration of what people ordinarily think and say. Both the many being sort of the person on the street and Ys being individuals who have studied this, namely philosophers and people of that nature. And Aristotle notes that pretty much everyone is agreed that this thing, whenever it turns out to be this end, is going to be called happiness. Okay? And so this is supposed to, I think, give us even a further piece of evidence that there is such a thing. When you think about what people say, Aristotle suggesting, actually do suggest that there is such a thing and they actually have a common term for it, happiness. Because when you ask someone, why are you doing this? And they say, Well, I’m doing this for that. And then you say, well, why are you doing that? And they say, Well, I’m doing that for some other thing. If you keep asking them the question Aristotle is suggesting, eventually they’re going to arrive at will. I’m doing that to be happy. All right. So if someone asked me, for example, why are you working this job, I might say, well, look, I enjoy the job a little bit for its own sake. But ultimately, I’m doing it mostly because I’m making money. And then they ask, Why do you want money? And if I’m rational, I’m going to say, well, I want money because that will allow me to have a home and to have a secure existence. And then they’ll say, Well, why do you want that? Do you just want to have a house and sit in it and be safe and secure? I would probably respond will know I want a house because that will give me the security I need to raise a family, say. And they might ask, well, why would you want that? And I’d say, well, because raising a family is what makes me happy. That’s going to make me think that I have a life that is worth living? This is only one possible answer, of course. Certainly the answer that most human beings would give if you were to ask them throughout most of human existence. Not necessarily an answer that you’re gonna get from everyone in all periods and certainly fewer people now give this as an answer. As in the past, certainly in the West. In Western countries, fewer people give this as an answer. But in the example I’m giving, that is a plausible answer. And the point here is that when I say that the end is that you can’t ask me a further question. When I say that I’m raising a family in order to be happy, it doesn’t make sense to say, well, why do you want to be happy? And Aristotle thinks no matter what, your answer is, look like to the questions you’re asked. Perhaps you say, well, I’m doing all of this because I want a house, because I need a place to live while I work on my artistic activities. I don’t want to have a family. I want to be an artist that expresses themselves creatively. And if someone says, Why do you want that? And I say I want to be happy and I think this will make me happy. Again, the implication is that’s the final end. And it wouldn’t be a reasonable follow-up question to ask. Well, why do you want to be happy? All right? And so happiness is going to be the final end. That really gives life affirming justification to all of the other things that we are doing. Now. The Greek word here that is translated happiness is eudaimonia. We’ve seen it already when we’ve done Socrates and Plato. And as I mentioned, then the term happiness is an okay translation of this Greek term. But it isn’t perfect. And there are two reasons why it isn’t. First of all, when we say happiness, we often tend to think of it as a subjective state. And sometimes even a feeling. Meaning that if you want to know if someone is happy, really, the only thing you need to do is ask them. And if the person feels happy than they are happy. Eudaimonia in the Greek isn’t quite so subjective, or at least in its primary use, it isn’t. Okay. Eudaimonia is more of an objective matter of living a fully realized life. Now, there are people and there are uses of happiness in English, where it does suggest that sometimes, for example, people argue about whether it’s good enough to say that you have happiness or well-being for you to believe, say that you have friends or whether you actually need to have friends. So the question is look, if you lived in a situation where you falsely believe that everyone liked you, in fact they don’t. Would you count as having a good life, a happy life? Would you count as having as good or as happy a happy life as someone who actually did have friends? Or is it the case that we don’t just need to believe we have friends, we actually need to have them. Alright, if the latter is true, and that’s the way that we’re using happiness than we are. Treating happiness as a partially objective batter. The idea being whatever you might think about the situation if you’re mistaken, it might turn out that you’re not actually right and therefore that you’re not actually happy. So there are uses of happiness in English that do suggest this kind of objectivity and the philosophical debate about questions like this, about whether it’s good enough to believe that you have friends or to believe that your light or so on. Whether that’s good enough to be happy. These kinds of debates, Indiecade, that there is such a use of the word happiness in English. But nevertheless, many translators prefer to translate eudaimonia as something more like flourishing or well-being. And that’s because flourishing, when we think about it is often thought of in a more objective way. Alright, so if I look at a tree and say that tree is flourishing, that suggests that the tree is doing well for a tree. The tree is fall. Doesn’t have a disease that affects trees of any kind, is completely realized. It’s done as well as any tree can do. That’s a flourish entry, right? A flourishing city would be the same and a flourishing life would suggest the same thing. So that’s the first thing to keep in mind when we see the word happiness. That in Aristotle’s use of it, it’s often better to think of flourishing because that for most of us, includes bore of an objectivity. The second big point, or the second big way, that happiness doesn’t quite work as an English translation of what Aristotle has in mind, is that happiness can be temporary. In a way that you diamond EMEA as it’s used by the ancients typically isn’t. So it is reasonable. It is intelligible for me to say I was happy this morning. But now I’m sad. For the ancients, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, at least. This kind of claim doesn’t quite make sense. Okay? So happiness is more something that is stable and long term. Again, flourishing and well-being seemed to be more suitable for this reason as well. Right? If you have a bad afternoon or even a bad month, it doesn’t mean that you’re not flourishing, that your life isn’t a flourishing one. It might mean, given the English use of happiness that you’re not happy for a little bit. Third, it’s perfectly intelligible for Aristotle. And Aristotle will do this. Identify eudaimonia with an activity. So eudaimonia for Aristotle is going to turn out to be an active use of our rational capacities in both practical and theoretical contexts. Meaning both to figure out what we ought to do in life and to figure out what is true. This is also possible with the term happiness, but it isn’t the primary use of the word. So this, we can see, can be a use of the English word happiness. If we think of people sometimes have t-shirts where they say happiness is going fishing, or happinesses is drinking wine or whatever. All right. These are statements that we understand and these are statements that indicate that happiness might be thought of as a kind of activity or might be realized for house, you might say by a kind of activity. Happiness is engaging in precisely this activity. And since, of course we can use the word happiness in this way, this doesn’t mean that happiness is a bad translation, it just means this is something we need to be aware of. Now, I don’t want to suggest that when the Greeks said you diamond NEA, they never meant it in the way that we standardly use the word happiness. It’s just that that wouldn’t have been the clear or the clearest association with the word. And certainly when we do Plato, Aristotle and Socrates, that isn’t the primary thing that they mean, right? So Aristotle does thing for example, that he needs to argue that happiness is an activity. That in fact, it’s not enough just to say be in a good state to be counted as happy. You also need to use that state in actions, right? So it’s not enough just to have friends, to be happy. You need to have friends and do things with them to be happy. Okay? So it’s not that the word eudaimonia suggests that these things all must be true of the final and that’s called happiness. If that were the case, Aristotle wouldn’t need to argue for these things. It’s rather that it is possible to hear this word eudaimonia. A way that might make these further suggestions plausible, or even might suggest that they might be true or it could be true. Or even two, some people are true. And that when we’re reading the English word happiness, we need to be aware of this guy. So it’s not that I want to say happiness is a bad translation or than I think it should be replaced. In fact, I think that there are some benefits to the word happiness, which is why Erwin uses it. And we don’t want to use a word that would presuppose what Aristotle is trying to prove are going to go on to try to prove. Rather we just need to be aware of these things. So that’s where we are so far. There is a point here where we can reflect on something important about Aristotle’s philosophical method that’s going on in this passage. And that’s that Aristotle is using what he calls dialectic here. The reason Aristotle is using what he calls dialectic here is because he is trying to establish what he often refers to as first principles. Okay? Dielectric for Aristotle, has three main components, are four main components. Common beliefs, puzzles, induction and intuitions. So when we’re trying to look for what Aristotle calls first principles, in fact, what we need to rely on are the things that people ordinarily believe about the subject in question. Puzzles that arise, certain difficulties that arise from these common beliefs. Induction from a number of cases and intuitions that we might have about the subject matter. These are the best things that we can rely on when we’re trying to establish first principles. Now, a further question is what our first principles and why should these things be our best hope of finding them? We’ll first principles for Aristotle are a result of a commitment to something that we referred to in epistemology as foundationalism. And epistemological view is foundationalist. If you think that the justification of many things that you believe ultimately derives from the justification of some foundational thing or set of things that you believe. And that in fact, you in some sense prove or derive the justification of all of the other things you believe from this foundational set of things, using some set of logical rules. Okay, So imagine the way that you might proceed if you were giving a proof of some mathematical theorem. Okay, You start from certain definitions are axioms that constitute the foundations of mathematics. And then you use those along with certain other rules to prove anything else that you want to prove in the domain. Now, if we are foundationalist of this kind, we ultimately need to think that there is some foundational set of truths that aren’t proved on the basis of further considerations. That would have to be the case because if our allegedly foundational truths were themselves, proved from other things, are derived from those other things. They would no longer be foundational. So what this means is that we’re going to need to have a way of establishing the truth of our first principles. Okay? Is that is different from the way that we establish the truth of everything out. We establish the truth of other things that we believe, because we can prove those other things on the basis of the first principles. We cannot prove the first principles in that same way. Okay? So Aristotle can’t think that we prove our first principles by deriving them from other things. What Aristotle ends up saying is that on some level, we just into it or see that the first principles are right. This isn’t a kind of proof from rational derivation. Instead, it’s a different kind of knowing where we just get to a point where we can see, okay, these things are just true. These things are self-evidently true, maybe as Descartes would later say, he’s also another foundationalist. And we don’t have to justify those further things on the basis of other truths that are more foundational than they are. But it isn’t the case for Aristotle that all of us can just intuit these foundational truths immediately. Okay? There are certain activities, intellectual activities that we can engage in, put us in a good position to intuit these foundational truths, these first principles. That is what dialectic is. Okay, So dielectric doesn’t prove the first principles in the same way that the first principles prove the other things we believe on the basis of the first principles. It instead puts us in a position that allows us to intuit what those first principles are. It’s almost like dielectric allows us to climb the mountain. We get to the top of the mountain and then we can see the truth. Okay? And dialectic for Aristotle relies on the use of things like common beliefs. So we’re here in the ethics trying to establish a first principle, what happiness is. And this first principle is going to allow us to figure out other things about how we should live our life. When we figure out what the nature of happiness looks like, we’re going to be able to answer questions about what we do in life. But we’re not going to be able to figure out what happiness is by proving it from further things. Okay, instead, we just need to look at what people say and think about happiness. Aristotles Nicomachean Ethics BooksWhat puzzles arise from what they say and think? What intuitions we have as philosophers about happiness. And also things that we can show by means of induction from a number of cases. So this is dialectic for Aristotle, it is a philosophical method that he is very explicit about. He describes it in a couple places. He also defends his use of it when we’re talking about first principles on the sort of grounds that I just mentioned. We have to establish our first principles in this way because it’s the only thing that we can do that. So to see this kind of thing, aristotle says later on in the ethics, we get a grasp of some first principles by means of induction, sum by means of perception, some by means of some sort of habituation, and others by other means. In each case, we should try to find them by mean suited to their nature and work hard to define them rightly for they carry great wait for what follows. For the principle seems to be more than half the hole and makes evident the answers to many of our questions. Induction, perception, habituation. So here we get a reference to many of the things I just mentioned. So first of all, we have a reference to common beliefs. Common beliefs on a particular subject, or one of the primary ways that Aristotle tries to find first principles. And when Aristotle does what we would call philosophy, he relies heavily on first principles. And if you think about it, we haven’t changed much. We philosophers. When you go to a philosophy class on say, ethics, a lot of what you’re going to do. Consider things that are supposed to show you what it is that you already think, or what it is that most of us already think. This is why we do thought experiments in philosophy, right? We’re supposed to ask ourselves questions. And we have intuitions, were supposed to sharpen them by means of thought experiments, right? So we have intuitions about when we are justified in engaging in certain kinds of activities and when we’re not. And then we do things like the trolley problem that are supposed to make clearer what it is that we actually think and when the trolley problem being, is it okay to pull a lever causes a train to hit two people instead of hitting five people? Yes or no. These kinds of things are meant to show us what our intuitions are, to make clear these intuitions to us. And not just what my intuition has happened to me, but what other peoples are. In some cases, we just appeal to straightforward intuitions without running these kinds of thought experiments, right? Someone asks you, look, would you prefer to live a life where you have this or a life where you have that. There’s, for example, debates about whether disability should be considered something negative or whether it’s just a mere difference that doesn’t have any kind of negative value aside from the stigma attached to disability in societies. And if you look at these debates, you can see very clearly that they rest a lot on intuitions. People who want to say that disability is just a mere difference. Say look, there are lots of people who are blind or deaf who have lives that they would say are just as satisfying and they’re not wrong. And many of these people would say, Look, It’s not that being deaf makes my life worse. It just makes it different. And some people who are deaf don’t even want to be able to hear. I’m not sure how many, but certainly this is a claim that’s made by individuals who talk about this. And this is an appeal to intuition, right? We’re looking at the intuitions of people that we think are going to be best placed to know the truth about these questions of value. People who actually experienced these things. On the other side, people who disagree with this kind of view. We’ll want to say, look, imagine that your society was set up so that being deaf didn’t make your life really, really burdensome in ways that detracted from its overall value. Show there were lots of accommodations and so on. If you were in that position, would you still choose if you had the choice to have a life where you could hear or a life where you couldn’t. The idea there is that if you were to ask people this question, they would typically say, well, I would choose to have a life where I wasn’t deaf. Okay. This is another appeal to common beliefs or intuitions. You can see here that when Aristotle talks about choice worthiness, some of that is going on. All right, some of choice worthiness means what would be rational to choose. But some of choice worthiness also means we’ll want to, people actually choose, because our view of what it’s rational to choose. Can’t Aristotle thinks, just disregard what people choose all the time. So we look at common beliefs. What we want to do when we look at these common beliefs though, is not just take them at face value. And we can’t really do that because sometimes they disagree with one another. Sometimes there are common beliefs that are in conflict. What we want to do is look at the common beliefs and try to find some first-principle that accounts for these conflicts. That tells us why people disagree in the ways that they do. And that resolves the conflicts that arise. Okay? And for Aristotle, common beliefs mean looking at what most people think, but also looking at what the wise thing, what people who have studied this issue Thank, are people who have thought about it a lot. Thank. Notably though Aristotle doesn’t favor one of these two over the other in every case. So in some cases he thinks the y’s have more insight because they thought about this question more. In other cases though, he actually says, look, I think that this particular view by the so-called wise is completely wrong. And Aristotle says this because he is aware that oftentimes people who talk about an issue and have a reputation for being wise will say things that are manifestly false. And they’ll say those things only because they want to have a reputation. Perhaps. They want to be provocative. Perhaps if we disagree with some of the strong things that Socrates says about value, we think maybe he’s trying to do this. Okay? They might sometimes take opinions just to stand out from the rest. And he doesn’t think that common people are motivated by that. I mean, if you, if you go to a philosophy department, no matter what your views are, I think you will probably find some people in the department that you disagree with. And I do think that in some cases you will say to yourself, I wonder whether that person truly believes that. Even if they do truly believe it, I wonder whether part of the motivation for their believing it is that it’s easier for them to get published if they have this view because no one else thinks it or because they have some really good argument for this view that they thought up. And so they’re going to get tenure or they’re going to get publications if they continue arguing for this view, right? Or maybe this view is particularly fashionable right now, if you look at the history of academic departments, all sciences, but certainly in the humanities in the last 100 years, there are things that come and go. There was a time when everyone who did literature, or most people would look at things through a Freudian lens and would try to say Shakespeare is, is trying to express these truths that Freud made clear. There was a time when everyone who’s studied anthropology was influence or many people. Not everyone. I mean, I don’t want to say everyone, but there was a time when Freudianism, how to dominance in departments. Now it doesn’t. There are times when Marxism has had a dominance in looking at these things. There are times when it hasn’t, okay. You can’t look at the history of, of departments and not see that this is true. Aristotle I think, would want to say, well, that’s partly the reason why we don’t just want to look at what the wise thing. Because although otherwise have thought about issues bore, there are also subject to certain pressures that have an effect on what they think. What they defend that might distort the truth value of what they’re saying. So it’s not just that we look at the whys, what the philosopher say and that ends it. We have to look at what is most commonly believed as well. The consultation of these common beliefs. So also has another justification that is of an epistemological sort. And this kind of justification rests on Aristotle’s belief that nature, generally speaking, is well-ordered. Okay, so Aristotle is committed to the idea that nature generally acts for the best. And that when things are such and such by nature, that’s generally the right way for them to be. This leads to a certain kind of epistemological conservatism in Aristotle. Because. You think that something like this is correct? If you think that we have our epistemic capacities by nature, we have our rational capacities because we have them. By nature, we are born with them, so to speak. And you think that nature is always, or for the most part, doing the thing that is best, then you’re going to reject the suggestion that we can have opinions that are systematically diluted. Okay? So for Aristotle, if many people think X, there must be some reason why many people think X, okay, there needs to be some explanation of why they think acts. That doesn’t come out. Making a say that these people are just totally wrong. That they’re all in the grip of some ideology. Or that they are all completely in the dark, that they’ve all been taught to believe lies or so on. Okay. They can’t all be wrong. It can’t be that just some small handful of people gets it right and everyone else has either been diluted or just completely on the wrong track. Doesn’t mean of course, that every view has to be correct and it can’t be because views disagree. It just means that we have to start from the idea that probably more of us are going to get it right, then get it wrong. In most cases because we have our rational capacities by nature. And nature generally does things well. So what this means, again is that for Aristotle, this belief about the way nature operates means that he’s going to push views that are more epistemically conservative. By epistemically conservative, I don’t mean politically conservative, although Aristotle certainly is politically conservative in many ways. I want to say only that. He’s not going to want to say the kinds of things socrates sense, which are radical departures from what people ordinarily think and say. And if you have read more of the ethics on your own or in another class, you will see that Aristotle just outright reject certain things that Socrates says. Like for example, when Socrates says that you can be happy even if you are given the death penalty or tortured. Aristotle thinks this is crazy. No one would think this. Except a philosopher. Or plato in The Republic suggests that we should give up the idea of a family where you know who your children are and where you have some privilege relationship to your children. Meaning you can have more of a say in values. They have how they’re educated and so on. Plato’s Republic look, we can radically change the way we do things. And people will actually be happier. We can get rid of say, private property and people will be happier. Aristotle doesn’t have really any sympathy for these kinds of things. He thinks and says that the kind of state that Plato suggests we maybe ought to have in the Republic would be something that makes most people are unhappy. And he things you can tell this if you think about the kinds of things people normally think are important to their happiness. So this is a sense in which Plato and Socrates, even though they might be politically speaking, just as conservative as Aristotle is in the respect that Aristotle is. Our, nevertheless far more radical in an epistemic sense. Plato and Socrates are more of the kinds of thinkers who will comment and say, Look, everything that you know or think you know is wrong. Socrates, especially right. It says, all kinds of things that fly in the face of common sense. Aristotle doesn’t think that. That is what a philosopher should do if their aim is to get truth. Aristotles Nicomachean Ethics BooksAristotle thinks that we should put more stock in common opinions. And that what we should ultimately do is try to figure out how those fit together and systematize them and sharpen them rather than completely throw them out. The next thing to say, which is important, especially for ethics, is that Aristotle here mentions a further part of dielectric, which is habituation. Another way that we grasp first principles. This is really only important in the special cases of ethics and political science. Where habituation is going to be a major source of information about first principles. What does habituation mean? Well, habituation for Aristotle, like for us, involves doing the same thing over and over again. And usually it’s because a parent or a teacher tells you to do this. Aristotle thinks that when you do this, you can actually come to grasp certain facts or appreciate certain values. And many of these are going to be first principles as a result of the habits that you have formed. Okay? So Aristotle thinks that engaging in certain habitual behaviors can come to produce a certain awareness of value. And that some ways of being habituated are more likely to get you to the truth than others. So think for example, as an example of a child, a child might not want to share their toys at first. All right. So a child might have their own toys and they might think to themselves, I don’t want to let anyone else use these. These are mine. If they made to share by a parent or a teacher though, they might eventually come to see the value of sharing. I think it’s quite likely actually, alright, if they don’t want to share and don’t have to, they will continue thinking that it’s better not to share. And they will think that ultimately, the most important thing is having your own property and having sole use of that property. However, if a child is forced to share, they might come to realize that there’s lots of beneficial things about sharing and that in fact, those beneficial things are enough to make sharing better than not sharing. For example, if you share your toys, you can play with others. You can build friendships. You can also get access to the toys of other children, right? These are all things that you can recognize to be valuable if you are made to get into the habit of sharing. But that it’s difficult to recognize are valuable. If you’re not made to get into that habit. It might even be that when we first start sharing, we don’t like it yet. We don’t see what could possibly be good about this. Eventually though, we can, There’s all kinds of examples you can think of, right? You might not think it’s important to get into a habit of exercise. And at first, when you start exercising, you find it horrible. But many people who do think exercise is great and love exercise will say, will look. Once you get into the habit, you will find that you are happier and you won’t want to give it up. This is what Aristotle has in mind. So habituation works this way in Aristotle’s ethics. There are many cases where you can get first principles of what is most valuable, about what is most valuable only by having had the correct habituation. Okay? What this means in practice is that actually Aristotle restricts ethics to people that he considers to have been well brought up. And therefore, if you haven’t had the right habituation for Aristotle, you can’t possibly see the truth about value. Okay, so an example of this from the Ethics is the following. Aristotle will say in book 1. That is why we need to have been brought up in fine habits. We are to be adequate students of fine and just things. And a political questions generally. For we begin from that. If this is apparent to us, we can also begin without knowing why someone who is well brought up has the principles or can easily acquire them. This is following on a remark Aristotle has made about habituation and the importance of it to figuring out first principles. Here He’s saying that this recognition, that habituation often allows us to grasp first principles or habituation of the right sort. Often assist, often allows us to grasp these principles. Aristotle is saying this is why if someone wants to participate in ethics, they need to have had the best habituation or the right habituation. Okay. He says, We begin from them that, and if we have that, that, if that is clear to us, we can also figure out why. So we can begin without knowing exactly why. What he means here is that we can do ethics if we start out knowing that a life that includes rational thought and pleasure is better than a life where we just go after. The kinds of pleasures that say, animals would also go after. So we’ll life that includes a bit of reading. And not just the pursuit of bodily pleasure in food and sex and so on. Such a life we might think is better than a life that is just comprised of bodily pleasures. That would be what Aristotle calls that, that here an aerosol things if you have a grasp of those kinds of truths and that kind of grasp comes to you through habituation. You can also figure out why those things are true. Okay, so someone who is well brought up has the principles. Someone who has been habituated since childhood into the right activities has a better understanding of trues about value. Because they have been forced by their parents when they’re young and eventually come to choose to do certain things that others haven’t. And those others therefore don’t appreciate the values inherent in those activities, right? Another example. Aristotles Nicomachean Ethics BooksImagine when you’re young, you are taught to play an instrument and you don’t like it at first, you think, why do I have to learn piano? In many cases, individuals who are forced at first, or maybe, maybe not forced, but to some extent coerced given incentives. If you go to piano lessons afterwards, we can go out to dinner at a place you like. Oftentimes those individuals will end up getting to a place where they think you don’t want. It was good to have had those lessons. I didn’t like them at first, but it was really nice. And now I can see that having played the piano and playing the piano, having had those lessons is a great thing. Okay? That person has a grasp of the truth about value that they didn’t have until they were forced or, you know, enticed to play piano enough. This is what Aristotle has in mind here. So we’re going to stop for today. We’ll continue with book one. Tomorrow. Have a great