Monday, October 18, 2021Breakout
The Elements of Virtue
In this class we continue our study of Aristotle's understanding of the good life in the Nicomachean Ethics, focusing on what virtue is and how we develop a virtuous state of character in selections from Books II, III, VIII, and IX. As part of this focus, we'll examine Aristotle's "particularist" approach to moral philosophy, his "doctrine of the mean," and his views on the role of pleasure, volition, and friendship in a good life.
- Develop a better sense of Aristotle’s notion of virtue (aretē) and how we become virtuous
- Explore how our nature as rational animals is continuous for Aristotle with our nature as emotional and pleasure-seeking animals
- Understand the sense in which Aristotle is a “particularist” when it comes to ethical reasoning
- Consider blindspots in Aristotle’s thinking and challenges for his understanding of the good life
- An excerpt from an interview between Martha Nussbaum and Bryan Magee, filmed for the BBC in 1987
- Note at the beginning that Magee contrasts Aristotle’s approach to moral philosophy with a utilitarian approach that focuses on “happiness,” where by this Magee means “pleasure,” which is not how Aristotle thinks of happiness as eudaimonia
- As you do the reading, see whether you can get a good sense of the various components of a life of virtue for Aristotle
- Live Like an Aristotelian Week starts today!
- “Aristotle’s Ethics” – entry from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Richard Kraut)
- “The Discernment of Perception: An Aristotelian Conception of Private and Public Rationality” – a close study and presentation of Aristotle’s conception of rationality (Martha Nussbaum)
- Slides for today’s class