Study Questions for Cahn and Markie, eds. Ethics

Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics

Trans. W. D. Ross, rev. by J. L. Ackrill and J. O. Urmson

Instructor: Dr. Jan Garrett

July 19, 2010

Book I

1. How does Aristotle initially describe the good? What division does he make among ends? (124; ch. 1)

2. Do we choose everything for something else? Explain. (124; ch. 2)

3. What science studies the highest good? Why is it so labeled? (124.2-125.1; ch. 2)

4. What methodological point does Aristotle make at p. 125, ch. 3, first para.?

5. Why does Aristotle apparently require of his listeners that they already be "educated" before they listen to his lectures on politics? (What does "educated" seem to mean?) (125; same para.)

6. What other reasons does A. give for excluding immature people from the audience of such lectures? (125; ch. 3, 2nd para, starting at "further")

7. What three conceptions of the best life does A. distinguish? Why are the first two incomplete? Why does A. exclude money-making as part of the good-life? (125, ch. 4, - 126)

8. With what do different types of people identify happiness (eudaimonia)? Why are these criticized? (The criticisms differ for the different accounts of happiness.) (126; ch. 5)

9. What does Aristotle mean by "final end"? "self-sufficient good"? (These are formal characteristics of happiness: any definition of happiness must meet these conditions.) (127; ch. 7)

10. What does the human good (=happiness) "turn out to be" (129.2, first four lines). Though still sketchy, this is the chief content Aristotle wants to give his definition of happiness. How is this definition related to Aristotle's idea of the human function? Distinguish human function from the function of a plant, an animal. Distinguish the function of a good lyre-player from that of a good human being. (129.1, generally)

11. What parts do pleasure and external goods play in the happy life? (130.1-2)

12. Can a person who is truly good and wise become miserable? If he meets with the misfortunes of (legendary Trojan King) Priam, will he reach blessedness? (131; ch. 9)

Book II

1. How many [main] kinds of virtue are there? Of what is intellectual virtue a result? (134.1, ch. 1)

2. Of what is virtue of character a result? (134.1)

3. Can moral virtues arise in us naturally? Is nature wholly irrelevant to virtue? (134.1)

4. How do we acquire moral virtues? To what is Aristotle comparing moral virtue here? (134.1)

5. What must the right sort of habituation avoid? (135.1) With what two opposites are virtues of character concerned? (135.2) What evidence does Aristotle give supporting this claim? (136.1)

6. What does A. mean by "passions," "faculties," and "states of character"? (137.1)

7. Are virtues and vices passions like love, joy, hatred, etc.? Faculties for experiencing such passions? Why or why not? (137.1)

8. In the broad sense of the term "virtue" (=approximately goodness), what does virtue enable? What then does human or moral virtue do? (137.2)

9. How does the intermediate "relatively to us" differ from the intermediate "in the object"? (137.2)

10. Why does A. say that virtue is a mean or intermediate? (138.1)

11. How does A. summarize his account of moral virtue? (138.1 [last three lines] - 138.2 [first two lines])

Book VI

1. What is a "practically wise person" able to do? (153.1) How does Aristotle define practical wisdom? How is practical wisdom related to temperance or lack thereof? (153.2)

2. Can practical wisdom be forgotten? (153.2) Why do you think Aristotle says it is not only a state involving reason?

3. Is practical wisdom the most excellent science? Explain. (154.2)

4. Is practical wisdom concerned with universals? prticulars? (154.2)

5. How does it relate to political science? to household management? (155.1)

6. In what way is practical wisdom difficult? (155.1-2) In what ways may deliberation be in error? (155.2)

7. In book vi, chapter 13, pp. 156-57, Aristotle discusses the relationship between the moral virtues and practical wisdom. In his view, is it possible to possess virtue in the strict sense without practical wisdom? Is it possible to possess practical wisdom without the virtues? How does Aristotle's view on the relationship between the moral virtues and practical wisdom compare with the view he attributes to Socrates?

Book X

1. How does Aristotle explain the popular view that happiness is amusement or enjoyment? (172.1)

2. State at least two arguments against this popular view? (172.1-2 [end of ch. 6])

3. Summarize at least three of the several arguments presented to support the claim that the contemplative life is the best. (172-173; ch. 7)

4. Why does Aristotle say that the moral virtues and practical wisdom require more external goods than the virtues of the intellect? (174.2-175.1)

5. Discuss: In N. E. x, Aristotle distinguishes between a primary or perfect form of happiness and a secondary form of happiness, which is incomplete. (See first sentence of ch. 8, at 173.2, and 174.2.)

6. Summarize what is said about the gods at 173.2 (last para. in ch. 7) and 174.2-175.1. How does that support the claim that the life of contemplation is supreme?