Study Questions for Aristotle Selections

eds. Irwin and Fine
(Hackett Publishing Company, 1995), pp. 398ff.

Nicomachean Ethics Book VI
The Virtues of Thought

Study questions by Dr. Jan Garrett

Last revised on December 25, 2006

Chapter 1

1. What has Aristotle established previously about the relation between correct reason, excess, deficiency, and the mean? (1138b21-25)

2. What two parts of the soul does he distinguish? (1139a5-6)

    Into what two classes has he divided the virtues? (1138b35-36)

    Can you say how these two distinctions are related? (Hint: In what part of soul you suppose virtues of thought inhere?)

3. How does A. distinguish the two parts that have reason? (1139a7-8)

    How do the parts possess knowledge? (a10-12)

    What names does A. give to the two parts? (a12-13)

4. How do we determine the virtue of a thing? (a17)

    So how can we find the best state of these two parts?

Chapter 2

5. What three capacities in the soul control action and truth? (1139a18-19)

6. Of them which originates no action? Why? (a18-20)

7. Virtue of character is ____________ (a22). This is part of A's definition of moral virtue from Book II.

8. Decision is _______________ (a23-24). This is argued for in Book III.

9. How do reason and desire work together in a person whose (practical) reason is correct? (a25-26)

10. How does thought concerned with study (theoria) differ from thought concerned with action or making? (a27-28; see also a32-36)

    How does the role of truth differ in these two "departments" of thought? (a30-31)

11. Does thought, by itself, move anything? (a37)

12. What is the function of each of the intellectual parts, and what will the virtues of these parts be? (b12-14)

Chapter 3

13. What is common to the five states of the soul mentioned by Aristotle? (1139b15-18)

14. How does A. describe the objects of science (epistêmê)? (b20-24)

15. What further characteristic of science does A. note? (b25-26)

16. How does he distinguish induction from deduction? (b26-32) Why are these mentioned at this point?

17. How is scientific knowledge defined? (b32-36)

Chapter 5

("Intelligence" is Irwin's translation of phronêsis, usually translated "practical wisdom" and sometimes "prudence.")

18. Is intelligence concerned with action or with truth for its own sake? (1140a26-30)

19. How do the objects of intelligence differ from the objects of science? (1140a32-b2)

20. How does A. describe intelligence at b5-7?

21. How does intelligence differ from craft (the virtue of thought related to production)? (b7-8; see also b23-25)

Chapter 6

22. What is understanding (noûs) about? (1141a9)

Chapter 7

23. What must the wise person (sophos) know? (1141a17-18) What two previously named virtues of thought does wisdom incorporate? (a18-19)

24. What does Aristotle mean when he says that wisdom (sophia) is about what is by nature most honorable? (a35-b9)

25. Compare wisdom with intelligence. (a10-23)

Chapter 12

26. Why does A. say wisdom will not study any source of human happiness? (1143b20).

27. Are both wisdom and intelligence choiceworthy in themselves? (1144a1-3)

28. How does wisdom make us happy? (a4-8)

29. How does intelligence promote happiness? (a9-10; 1145a3-7)