ARISTOTLE: Background. PLATO: The forms [ patterns or ideals ] are not this world and can only be known through a process of education – Thus morality is based on the highest knowledge available only to a few.
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PLATO: The forms [patterns or ideals] are not this world and can only be known through a process of education –
ARISTOTLE: The “forms” [or patterns] that enable us to understand objects don’t exist apart from particular objects.
Aristotle asks: What do people desire? He says we desire an end that is: self-sufficient, final, attainable
Theoretical Sciences -- include Metaphysics, Physics and Mathematics
Productive /Practical Sciences -- are those where reason serves human beings.
Every activity has its proper end at which it aims. ["end in itself"]
Politics is the "master art" -- why? Who should practice it? Contemporary relevance?
Different ”Sciences" will have different levels of precision.
Aristotle thought that there was agreement among people that the ultimate human good is happiness.
Why? [what is Aristotle assuming about human interests?
The "function of man" is an activity of the soul that follows a rational principle.
Aristotle’s definition relies on his analysis of the soul and the Greek definition of virtue
The human soul has two elements.
The rational part has two functions
2 kinds of virtue parallel the functions of reason.
According to Aristotle the human personality has three elements:
The passions and faculties [abilities] are not blameworthy or praiseworthy in themselves
Thus Virtue must be a state of character.
vanity proper prideundue humility
Practical Wisdom: [deals withvariable things]. Here the reasoning must be true and the desire right if the choice is to be good
Philosophical Wisdom: [deals with invariable things] Contemplative in nature. Not practical nor productive.
The origin ofMoral Actionis in CHOICE.
The activity of reason offers pleasures that are:
Question: Is this a life that humans can aspire to?
The example of Le Chambon:
For Aristotle the question isn’t “How should I act?”, but “What kind of a person should I be?”
We can understand Aristotle as an attempt to reconcile duty & inclination/reason & emotion
Aristotle makes a distinction between a temperate & a continent person.
Both Kant’s ethics and Utilitarianism maintain the split between head & heart.
According to Aristotle virtue is
In Aristotle’s discussion of virtue the emphasis is on CHARACTER [as a result of habits of behavior and perception], rather than individual actions
COURAGE: A lack of courage can interfere with reaching our goals.
COMPASSION: Compassion is part of recognizing the suffering of others as suffering.
Compassion always involves the desire to do something. [whether possible or not]
Compassion involves “moral imagination”
Compassion implies moral equality/pity implies inequality.
Love, whether of self or other, wants to see the object of the love flourish.
The excess [arrogance, conceit etc.] and deficiency [self-deprecation, self-effacing etc…] interfere with your flourishing.
Practical Wisdom involves “the reflective and affective application of a general disposition to right action of some kind.” [huh?]
Translation:A particular virtue [that is part of your moral character] and your conception of the “good life” come together in a certain situation guiding you to form a judgment[practical wisdom] about what you should do.
Aristotle says you can’t have one virtue without the others - there is a reciprocity.
Finally: An ethics of character helps other moral theories apply rules sensitively and, through practical wisdom, is able to balance the competing claims of utility & rights etc.