Nicomachean Ethics


Book 1

…every action and pursuit is considered to aim at some good.” -pg. 3

I feel this is true because it seems odd that someone would truly want to do evil. You read about evil characters and people in history, but most often those characters feel they are doing good even if they are doing something most agree to be bad.

For even if the good of the community coincides with that of the individual, it is clearly a greater and more perfect thing to achieve and preserve that of a community…” -pg. 4

Preserving the community/ society is a common goal. If society is corrupted then all could turn to chaos.

…identify happiness with living well or doing well.” -pg. 7

When most people say they are happy, they say that they are because they are living well and doing things that are pleasant to them. Nobody says they are happy when they are extremely thirsty or hungry. Most judge their happiness on their current state. I am currently happy because I have a full stomach and am warmed by my blanket. This is my association of living well with my happiness.

…there are three main types of life: [enjoyment], the political, and, …the contemplative.” -pg.8

I do not see how political life is separate from contemplative life. I feel to understand politics and implement it you would have to be contemplative about it.

…good is not a common characteristic corresponding to one idea.” -pg. 12

The word ‘good’ is very vague. It is generally positive, but not exact. Because things can be too good and therefore negative in a sense.

A self-sufficient thing, then, we take to be one which by itself makes life desirable and in no way deficient; and we believe that happiness is such a thing.” -pg.14

We make our lives happy, essentially our happiness is in our own hands. But other factors can alter our mindsets on life as well. Outside forces like nature could completely ruin owns life; therefore, happiness is dependent on more than just one’s own doing.

…we do not speak of an ox or a horse or any other animal as happy…” -pg. 21

I completely disagree with this statement. I know when my pets are happy and I know when they are not. When my sister’s dog Misty passed away last month, my dog Tessa stopped eating and would sulk around. I know she was not happy, she was grieving; therefore, she can feel happiness and sadness and many other emotions as well.

…we have assumed that happiness is a permanent thing…” -pg. 23

I do not think that happiness is permanent. I feel it is something that can easily be taken away. it could be very fleeting or it could last for years, but it is something that is based on the emotions of the person feeling it.
Book 2

…none of the moral virtues is engendered in us by nature…” -pg. 31

Virtue is something I’ve never fully understood. I originally thought of virtues as morals, but virtues are something that is morally good. The slight difference has always stumped me. This quote states that we learn all our virtues. If that is so, is everyone around the world learning the very same virtues?

Anything that we have to learn to do we learn by the actual doing of it…” -pg. 32

This is true to an extent, because somethings we think we can learn by reading about it, or studying it, but we don’t truly know if we can do it until we actually try.

…behaving rather like invalids who listen carefully to their doctor, but carry out none of his instructions.” -pg. 38

This quote made me laugh because there are many people who do exactly this. There are people in my studio class who listen to what my instructor asks, but when it actually comes to implementing what she instructed they do the opposite.

…choose the lesser of the evils…” -pg. 48

This is something that we have to face almost everyday. At lunch today I faced something like this. I have been trying to eat healthy, but nothing known as healthy sounded good to eat, so I ate the most healthy, unhealthy thing for lunch, the lesser of the evils.
Book 7
(sections: 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14)

… it is easier to alter one’s habits than one’s nature.” -pg. 190

This is definitely true, but it is also hard to change one’s habits, although not as difficult to change one’s natural instincts.

… the pleasures we derive from contemplation and learning will encourage us to contemplate and learn more.” -pg. 194

I feel that when ever pleasure is derived from something we always want to do more of that thing. For example, I get pleasure from watching tv shows on Netflix, so much so that I watch 5 or so episodes in a row without taking a break. I know that what I am doing is bad for my work ethic, and for my body physically (since I am hardly moving when I am watching the shows), but I still do it because it makes me happy.

… the fact that pleasure is pursued by all animals and human beings is some indication that it is in some sense the supreme good…” -pg. 195

This could be proven false because sometimes we are drawn towards that which could endanger us.

These are the pleasures derived from things pleasant by nature and not incidentally. By things that are pleasant incidentally I mean such as are remedial. The remedial effect is produced by an activity of that part of the subject that has remained healthy, and this makes the remedy itself seem pleasurable.” -pg. 198

This confusing quote essentially means that naturally pleasing things are better for us than things that are pleasant but not made by nature. Some people can argue that everything evolves from nature, which would result in this statement meaning that everything that gives us pleasure is a good thing.
The School of Athens, by Raphael, depicts Plato and Aristotle in the center of the painting conversing.

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