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THE GENESIS OF WESTERN THOUGHT
Professor Aryeh Kosman
Plato and Aristotle:
The Genesis of Western Thought
Professor Aryeh Kosman
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Plato and Aristotle: The Genesis of Western Thought Professor Aryeh Kosman
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Lecture content ©2003 by Aryeh Kosman Course guide ©2003 by Recorded Books, LLC
72003 by Recorded Books, LLC
Cover image: School of Athens, Detail of Plato and Aristotle by Raphael (1483–1520) Stanza della Segnatura, Stanze di Raffaello, Vatican © Clipart.com #UT009 ISBN: 978-1-4025-4747-8
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. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46 The Nicomachean Ethics: Ethics and the Good Life . . . . . .9 The Charmides: The Virtue of Quiet Self-Control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 The Euthyphro: The Virtue of Holiness . . . . . . . . .14 The Republic: Justice and the Virtue of Justice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33 The Organon: Substance as the Primary Mode of Being . .21 The Symposium: Is the Philosopher Capable of Love? . . . . . . . . . . . . .40 Biology and On the Soul: Life and Consciousness . .36 The Metaphysics: What Is Philosophy? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 The Republic: Justice and the Philosopher King . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Course Syllabus Plato and Aristotle: The Genesis of Western Thought About Your Professor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25 The Phaedo: Death and the Philosopher . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29 Aristotle: Patience with Complexity . .5 Lecture 1 Lecture 2 Lecture 3 Lecture 4 Lecture 5 Lecture 6 Lecture 7 Lecture 8 Lecture 9 Plato (with Nods to Socrates) . . . . . . . . . . . .68 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .64 Lecture 10 Lecture 11 Lecture 12 Lecture 13 Lecture 14 Course Materials . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58 Plato and Aristotle: A Final Review and Summation .52 Plato and Aristotle: The Politics and the Poetics . . . . . . . . . .
and their young daughter Hannah. Professor Kosman began his studies at the University of California at Berkeley and completed his doctoral work at Harvard University. and the philosophy of language and literature.C. He is also the father of three grown and successful sons. His teaching interests also include contemporary issues in aesthetics and the philosophy of literature. philosophical psychology. He joined the Haverford faculty in 1962 and has taught there since. ethics. D. Professor Kosman is the recipient of several teaching awards. medieval. and the University of Pittsburgh. Deborah Roberts. 4 . the University of Washington. the University of California at Berkeley. His main areas of interest in the history of philosophy include metaphysics. He presently lives in Haverford with his wife.Photo courtesy of Aryeh Kosman About Your Professor Aryeh Kosman Aryeh Kosman is the John Whitehead Professor of Philosophy at Haverford College in Haverford. and early modern philosophy. Pennsylvania. with study between at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Professor Kosman has lectured and written extensively on ancient. He has been a fellow at Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies and at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. except during visiting appointments at Princeton University. a classicist and translator. the University of California at Los Angeles.
School of Athens Detail of Plato and Aristotle Stanza della Segnatura. Stanze di Raffaello. and spiritual lives. 5 © Clipart. it is their similarities that shine through: their commitment to reason as critical to moral. By working through parts of their central texts and thoughts.” approached their exploration of the human condition in different ways.com .” and Aristotle. their unending desire to understand the world. their mutual love of wisdom. But in this examination of the minds and works of two of our first philosophers. characterized more by “this worldliness. Vatican by Raphael (1483-1520) Introduction This course is an introduction to the philosophical thought of the two most important philosophical figures of ancient Greece. we will gain an understanding of Plato and Aristotle’s relevance in the past and today as well. political. and above all. sometimes remarked on for his “otherworldliness. the fruits of which have inspired and enriched the lives of inquisitive men and women to this very day. Plato and Aristotle offered theories and philosophies distinctive of their individual world views. Plato.
“What is …?” What is justice? What is courage? B. Plato was born in Athens in 428 BCE to a wealthy and aristocratic family. such as. Aristotle was a student of Plato and eventually the tutor for Alexander the Great. influence. Did Aristotle pay homage to Plato to the same degree that Plato paid to Socrates? 2. Socrates was. After Socrates’ death Plato left Athens to travel through Italy. In reading the texts we will strive to understand what the philosophers were attempting to articulate. . and death had upon Plato that turned him toward a life of studying philosophy.” It was the influence that Socrates’ life. He aspired to follow in his family’s footsteps and become an aristocratic politician. the founder of moral philosophy and a master of philosophical interrogation. He characteristically asked questions of meaning. . 6 LECTURE ONE . C. Socrates was an immensely important figure in Athenian life. As a teacher and thinker he had an enormous. the first accredited philosophy professor. Consider this . No discussion of Plato and Aristotle would be complete without first mentioning Socrates. Plato and Aristotle (with Nods to Socrates) A. This institution was devoted to research and instruction in philosophy and the sciences. Remember two primary concerns as you consider these works: (1) Be concerned always with philosophical relevance. 2. In order to comprehend who we are as people we must begin to understand the philosophical giants who have shaped our thinking. though controversial.Lecture 1: Plato (with Nods to Socrates) The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Xenophon’s Conversations of Socrates. in effect. He was a close friend of Plato’s family. 2. 1. Plato’s life became that of. trial. but Socrates inspired him to follow a course of philosophy. On his return he founded the Academy. Socrates was condemned to death for “corrupting the youth. 1. 1. He devoted his life to teaching and guiding the Academy. We will think through the philosophical texts of Plato and Aristotle and not simply make a list of their ideas. and (2) Be concerned with truth and historical accuracy. in essence. Why did Socrates feature so prominently in Plato’s writings? I.
Dialogue is an instrument in Plato’s hands. he diswell have been avoided. Both had a wide range of escape to Thessaly. at difand would deny respect for due ferent times. he founded his own school in Athens called the Lyceum. within the context of an overall understanding of the work and of the characters. at the age of 17. including (among others) metaphysics. biology insisting instead that such a course of action would be wrong and politics. encourages us to consider two important points: 1. like those of the expected Socrates to leave the Ideal Forms. Plato’s Dialogues are written in a dracircumstances surrounding matic or poetic style that is mimetic the event. as a suicide considering the B. It was a death that could 3. a suggesinterests and wrote on subjects tion that Socrates rejected. 2.jurisdiction. his friends offered an opportunity for him to ly prolific. Plato may have been an early philosopher. Socrates showed his conwill look first at the works of Plato. His death has foundations of the history of sometimes been characterized Western philosophy. it may help us to understand the work and thought of Plato and Socrates. we process of the law. A devotion to philosophy may take the form of joyful. touch on all these subjects. almost erotic play. In his dialogues Socrates “plays” the main character. As with Shakespeare. ethics. the prosecutors fully damental ideas. it is for the reader to determine. what may have been Plato’s actual views. Our lectures will. Plato wrote 26 dramatic texts—his rather than addressing the Dialogues—that have become the issues at hand. Summary: In order to comprehend who we are as human beings. but he was not a primitive philosopher. True wisdom is the recognition that one is not wise. His actual voice never appears directly in these dialogues. (see sidebar on page 8). to Plato’s Academy. 2. In beginning our discussion. Indeed. all of his words and ideas are expressed through the characters he creates in these works. SOCRATES’ DEATH 7 . the word philosophy means love of wisdom. and as this character. epistemology. Prior to agreed with several of Plato’s funtrial. An Introduction to Plato’s Work defending himself through a narration of the facts of his life A. Plato and Aristotle were extraordinari. Later in life.Socrates himself carried out the sentence of death when he drank the prescribed hemlock potion. tempt for the process by only II. where he remained for approximately twenty years. 1. He lost his father at an early age and was brought. Although a student of Plato. At the trial itself. D.
Richard. NY: State University of New York Press. For what reasons is reading Plato a difficult and complex task? 3. Conversations of Socrates. Brickhouse. As Socrates plays such a vital character in the Dialogues. Thomas C. and Nicholas D. 2000. What is the point of the proposition that “true wisdom” is the recognition that one is not wise? Suggested Reading Xenophon. Other Books of Interest Bodeus.FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING Questions 1. Oxford: Oxford University Press. New York: Penguin. LECTURE ONE 8 . Would Plato’s writing be as rich if he used his own voice instead of that of Socrates? 5. Aristotle and the Theology of the Living Immortals. 1990. 1996.. is it possible to assume that Plato intended the “character” of Socrates to be his spokesperson? 4. Plato’s Socrates. Inc. Smith. Albany.. How is reading Plato always an interpretive endeavor? 2.
The conversation between Socrates and Euthyphro occurs because Euthyphro claims to have an expert knowledge concerning piety. The Euthyphro is an early dialogue of Plato’s that concerns itself with the virtue of “holiness. asks Euthyphro to teach him (us) about. Allen). Crito. This suggests that they’re not looking for definition in an ordinary sense of the 9 . C. II. What does “Euthyphro” mean in Greek? 2. they end with no apparent solution to the question raised. an understanding of what the gods would require of someone in his position. that is. Consider this . Socrates. So none works in the sense of withstanding the questions that Socrates poses. who he believes is responsible for the death of one of his laborers. It’s that knowledge that Socrates. In this case the characters represented are Socrates and Euthyphro. Gorgias.E. We might wonder how Socrates can criticize Euthyphro’s suggested definitions if he doesn’t already know the nature of piety. The dialogue is devoted to the search for the definition or meaning of a concept or entity such as holiness or piety. Menexenus (translated by R.Lecture 2: The Euthyphro: The Virtue of Holiness The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Plato’s The Dialogues of Plato.” Like all the dialogues it is presented as a dramatic scene with characters. The conversations in these dialogues ends aporetically. D. III. B. Volume 1: Euthyphro. None of his definitions seem satisfying to Socrates. The Subject Matter of the Euthyphro A. C. that is. . Some Features of the Euthyphro Characteristic of Early Platonic Dialogue A. himself on trial for being unholy. The Euthyphro portrays Socrates and Euthyphro attempting to understand the nature of piety or holiness. 1. . Euthyphro is present at the court to prosecute his father. on the other hand. Meno. Why does Socrates object to Euthyphro’s accounts of holiness? I. Apology. Some Further Thoughts About These Features A. The dialogue takes place on the steps of the courthouse where Socrates is about to be tried. questions Euthyphro’s suggestions and cross-examines his claims to knowledge. Euthyphro offers a series of definitions designed to articulate the definition. B.
an example is ontologically overloaded. B. 1.word. it is holiness itself. because it doesn’t tell us which features constitute the essence in question. The Argument of the Euthyphro A. that’s the right one? These are some of the questions that lie behind the argument of the dialogue. a. Socrates objects to Euthyphro’s first definition because it gives an example or instance of holiness rather than a definition. and then that it is what all the gods love. An example doesn’t tell us enough. A central question about how to read Plato is the question of whether any or all of these definitions are helpful. represent Socrates in search of the definition and understanding of a particular virtue. that is. is a rich but complex and problematic notion in Plato’s writing. IV. but for some deeper understanding of a concept that they recognize. of virtue in general (Meno). We might say that they’re looking for the form of the holy. the Charmides about temperance. C. This notion of form. the X-ness itself by virtue of which the X’s are all said to be X. or courage (Laches). 1. Other early dialogues consider the nature of friendship (Lysis). or of love and rhetoric (Phaedrus). He goes on to say that it is the part of justice having to do with service to the gods and that it is the science of prayer and sacrifice—knowing. and we can’t tell which of its many features count as determining its essential nature. as he says). and the Republic is about justice. Socrates presents problems with Euthyphro’s accounts of holiness. In the course of the dialogue. particularly those that scholars think were composed early in his career. and if so how. LECTURE TWO b. 2. they’re not looking for what could be found in a dictionary. the dialogue called the Laches is about courage. At first he says that holy is what he’s now doing (prosecuting the wrongdoer. This kind of series of definitions is offered in many of Plato’s early and middle dialogues. In this dialogue the virtue in question is that of holiness. To ask after the form is to try to narrow the being to those features that capture the specific nature in question. 10 . But how could a single definition capture the exact nature of the form? And how can any particular piece of language give us this understanding? Could there be any one particular definition. The form is thus the essential nature of some collection of things. Then he says that it is what is pleasing to the gods. Euthyphro offers several definitions of holiness. therefore. Or we could say that it gives too much. VIRTUES Many of Plato’s dialogues. important in both Plato and Aristotle. what is right to say to and do for the gods. B. The form is that by virtue of which the things that are said to be holy are holy.
ACTIONS AND PASSIONS An interesting philosophical distinction helps in understanding this argument. The activity of being carried is the passion of being carried. If John carries a baguette. his carrying the baguette is an action. This is a less obvious distinction in English than in Greek. a. one of which is true and one of which is false. SENTENCE 2B: FALSE: Something is holy because it gets approved. but they are conceptually distinct. Socrates then establishes two relationships. SENTENCE 1A: TRUE: Something is being approved because it gets approved. (That would be like saying Miriam is employed because she’s an employee. Socrates offers a more complex argument to show that the next definition—the pious is what the gods approve of—isn’t a good definition. b. then Miriam being loved by John is a passion in this technical sense.) SENTENCE 1B: FALSE: Something gets approved because it is being approved. which is the passive correlate of the action of carrying. though his loving her is an action. it might be very helpful as a forceful illustration of the nature being defined.) SENTENCE 2A: TRUE: Something gets approved because it’s holy. The action and the passion are one and the same thing.c. each of which could be expressed by two sentences. Here’s the argument that Socrates gives. 11 . But consider when an example might be useful: if someone knows how to read an example. the gods approve of the holy because it’s holy. think of the difference between Miriam being an employee and Miriam being employed. Don’t confuse passion in this technical sense with the passion that is John’s love! c. but with our inability to read it properly. and the baguette’s being carried by him is a passion. The fact that 2A is true and 2B is false is the fact that Euthyphro agrees to at the beginning of the discussion. if John loves Miriam. 2. We might think about this more generally: what’s wrong with a definition in a particular case may not be about the definition itself. We can express this as the distinction between being carried and getting carried. To further confuse matters. He first introduces a distinction between the state of being carried and the activity of being carried. to understand it. (That’s like saying Miriam is an employee because she’s employed.
but not in the form of any one single definition. We should search for a clearer and more definite understanding of the concept in question. however. This is what Plato shows us needs to be thought about. it’s the other way around—they love the holy because it’s holy. However. but only if we are able to understand it for what it is. to read the account properly. Central to this argument is the claim that the gods approve of the holy because it’s holy. By the end of the dialogue it appears that no definition has been agreed upon and that Euthyphro has been unmasked as not knowing what he thought he knew. Summary: The Socratic method presented in the Dialogues is simply to question and examine someone’s understanding of an idea. then the two true statements would turn out to be false. Socrates is always looking for the essential nature of a concept—Plato later calls this the form of something. f.d. We’ll talk about this in the next lecture. LECTURE TWO 12 . an understanding has emerged from the dialogue. Perhaps Plato has offered us the true account of holiness. and the two false statements would turn out to be true. Socrates shows that if it were the case that being approved by the gods were the same thing as being holy. we should be looking for more than a definition. V. Euthyphro is unable to articulate differences between essential natures. B. e. It’s not because the Gods love the holy that it’s holy. Conclusions from the Euthyphro A. Perhaps. What has emerged from this encounter? Consider this possibility: the right account emerges.
or do you think that something positive has emerged. At the end of the dialogue. What are the ways in which a dialogue could help us understand the meaning or force of a concept? Suggested Reading Plato. Volume 1: Euthyphro. what? 5. R. Is the dialogue in this respect a failure. Well. Crito. Menexenus. New Haven: Yale University Press. The Dialogues of Plato. 13 . 1989.FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING Questions 1. Apology. Socrates and Euthyphro have not managed to agree on a proper definition of piety. How do you think the virtue of holiness that Socrates and Euthyphro discuss is understood today? Does a person have to be “religious” in order to be holy? 2. and if so. Meno. What. if anything. what do you think? Is a runner out because the umpire calls him out. Allen. do you think this dialogue reveals about Plato’s understanding of the relationship between holiness and a more general notion of moral virtue? How do you think the notion of what is good might be related to the notion of divine approval? 3. Gorgias. Trans.E. or does the umpire call him out because he’s out? What issues do you think depend on how we answer this question. and how could we go about deciding it? 4.
” On this model. which we’ll discuss in this and succeeding lectures. of virtue in general (Meno). They are principles of integrity and unity of things that are X. we’ll see this same model applied to Plato’s dialogue. courage. are two of the so-called “cardinal virtues” introduced by Plato in the Republic. II. What are the four cardinal virtues? I. in other words. and so of being X. or of love and rhetoric (Phaedrus). . 1. Forms are transcendent. The form of X. several definitions are offered. we suggested thinking of a dialogue as offering a model of understanding that we might think of as “dialectic. . In this lecture. These four “cardinal virtues” are wisdom. so any piece of language expresses the definition of the form. is the principle of the things that are X being X. understanding emerges not from a privileged definition. Dialectic (dialogue) teaches us to learn to read the accounts. Further Thoughts on the Nature of Platonic Forms and Their Understanding A. In the last lecture. but emerge from the being of A. temperance and justice. and the Republic. the Charmides is about a virtue called in Greek sophrosyne: temperance or selfcontrol. but from a body of discourse that enables us to read or know our way around a concept. is about justice. The form of X is also the principle of the intelligibility of things that are X and therefore of the integrity and unity of the definitions or accounts of being X. LECTURE THREE 14 . Other early dialogues. The Subject Matter of the Charmides A. Forms explain the being of the things that they are the forms of.Lecture 3: The Charmides: The Virtue of Quiet Self-Control The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Rosamond Kent Sprague’s Plato’s Laches and Charmides. B. VIRTUES As the Euthyphro is about holiness. as we noted in the previous lecture. temperance. Of these. but it’s difficult to see what they all have in common. Beautiful things are beautiful by virtue of the form of beauty. which we’ll discuss in the next lecture. of courage (Laches). is. Consider this . consider the nature of friendship (Lysis). Just as any particular X expresses its form but doesn’t fully capture it. and justice. According to the Charmides. temperance. the Charmides. but can’t fully capture it. It’s not immediately clear what this virtue. what is the definition of temperance? 2.
C. and that temperance or self-control is a “kind of quietness. But for it to work. they are not fully in command of the wisdom they are able to speak. or temperance. but masters it gently and with ease. Think of control that is effortless and does not force what it controls. This understanding allows us to tell a story about the kind of temperance or self-control that Plato wants his readers to think of. Understanding this fact helps us to appreciate the dialogue in its larger project of understanding the general nature of sophrosyne. the doing of good things (163e). The First Definition of Temperance or Self-control Given in the Charmides A. Sophrosyne is that kind of control focused on the self. and a science that is of itself and other sciences (168a). Charmides says that being temperate is doing everything in an orderly and quiet way. Temperance is thus self-mastery of a quiet and tranquil mode. reveals something about the nature of the virtue once we learn to read it. It is the virtue of a person who is harmonious and at peace with himself.” Socrates offers a counter argument to show that is not an adequate definition. is said successively to be a kind of quietness (159b). We encounter characters who have the right thing to say but don’t say it properly. it is the kind of self-control that involves the subject’s effortless and tranquil performance of what she truly wants to do. D. a form of modesty (160e). Summary: The first definition. The dialogues (and philosophy in general) are attempts to aid us in the recovery of the wisdom that we possess but do not possess in a fully understood way. a science of self (165c). B. SOPHROSYNE In the course of the dialogue. minding one’s own business or doing the thing that is one’s own (161b). sophrosyne. we have to understand “quietness” as involving calm tranquility. Dialogues often show us people who can articulate accounts that express but without understanding why they do. III. but Plato takes it to be important that we maintain that ideal for the successful conduct of our moral and intellectual lives. or don’t understand what they’re saying. 15 . In one sense Socrates’ argument is a good one. The understanding that we do receive is indeed ideal. although not capturing the nature of temperance or selfcontrol. Think of them as exercises in the redemptive appropriation of a common wisdom. C.
and gave one example from my own life.FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING Questions 1. In the lecture. The Virtue of Philosophy: An Interpretation of Plato’s Charmides. and Critias are talking about? 2. 1992. Chapter 4. Drew A.. 1964. I spoke of the difference between intermediate or higher forms of mastery or control in an art or craft. What do you think might be the relationship between any two other features of the virtue they’re talking about? Think. LECTURE THREE 16 . Plato: the Dialogues. 1981. Hackett Publishing Co. 4. Hyland. of what might be the relationship between modesty and quietness. NY: Cornell University Press. Rosamond Kent. Sophrosyne: Self-Knowledge and Self-Restraint in Greek Literature. Other Books of Interest Friedländer. Does this work reveal any other features that could contribute to our grasp of how a dialogue might help us understand the meaning or force of a concept? Suggested Reading Sprague. OH: Ohio State University Press. What differences do you see between the parts of the dialogue in which Socrates is talking to Charmides and those in which he is talking with Critias? 5. North. Ithaca. Paul. or call it into question? 6. Charmides. Helen. for example. Columbus. Plato’s Laches and Charmides. First Period. How do you think Plato understands the relationship between self-knowledge and self-control? 3. Can you think of other skills or arts or crafts that exemplify that distinction. New York: Pantheon Books. 1966. What English word do you think best captures the virtue or state of character that Socrates.
Lecture 4: The Republic: Justice and the Virtue of Justice The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Plato’s Republic (translated by C.D.C. Reeve).
The Republic is considered to be Plato’s most successful and influential dialogue. It opens with a conversation, similar to the other dialogues, this time concerning the subject of justice. Justice is approached in this case both as a personal and moral virtue and as a general condition of a society. The understanding of justice in terms of these will lead to a deeper understanding of justice as being, additionally, a metaphysical concept. Before reaching this conclusion, we will explore more carefully what it means to describe something as a virtue and then discuss a central question of the Republic. Consider this … 1. What is the relationship between justice and virtue? 2. If justice is a virtue, what kind of virtue is it? I. Overview of the First Four Books of the Republic A. Book 1 of the Republic may be thought of as a short dialogue on justice of the same scope and format as the Euthyphro or Charmides. 1. Socrates and the dialogue’s other participants argue about and attempt to understand the nature of the virtue of justice. 2. A series of definitions and accounts of justice is considered, but each of them is found somehow to be wanting. B. In Book 2, a problem is posed concerning the nature of justice. 1. Is justice an intrinsic good, something good in and of itself? 2. Or is it good simply because of the rewards that a reputation for justice brings in its wake? C. Socrates claims that we need a clearer sense of what justice is in order to answer that question. 1. In order to do this, he suggests the creation, in discourse, of an “ideal city” to see what justice looks like in that context. 2. Then we can apply what we have discovered about justice in the city back to the individual. D. By the end of Book 4, Socrates claims to have discovered the nature of justice, and then offers an answer as to whether it constitutes an intrinsic human good. 1. Later we will look at that answer and think about what’s involved in it.
2. But first it’s important to think about the relationship between justice and virtue. II. First Notions About the Relationship Between Justice and Virtue in Plato’s Republic A. We might first suppose that justice is a central component of virtue. How, we might think, could a person be virtuous without being just? 1. This is what leads us to think sometimes of justice as in some sense the primary virtue. We might think this for two reasons: a. We might think of justice as the central mode of social and political virtue, and think in turn of social and political virtue as central to one’s notion of morality. b. We might be impressed with the fact that justice concerns itself with our relations to others, which we might also think as central to our notion of morality. 2. This is an attractive view if we read the Republic, as indeed it often has been read as a text primarily concerned with justice as an aspect of social and political philosophy. B. Perhaps, however, the City that is introduced by Socrates in the Republic is designed more as a metaphor to allow us to see more clearly the nature of justice of the individual soul. In that case, we want to think differently about the relationship between justice and virtue. It will help if we think further about the nature of virtue in the Republic. III. More About Virtue in the Republic A. When is the notion of virtue first introduced in the Republic? 1. The first mention is in Book 1 (335b), when we read of the virtue of dogs and horses, which turns out to mean the qualities that make a dog or horse a good dog or horse. 2. Shortly later (353b) virtue is connected to the notion of something functioning. A function here is the characteristic activity or work that something engages in. A virtue is what enables something to perform its function well. A virtue, then, is a quality something has that allows it to be itself in a good fashion. B. Here a virtue is a good quality; understood morally, a virtue is a good state of character, a dispositional capacity for proper action. It’s interesting to consider what it means to place this notion of virtue at the center of moral philosophy. But for now, we need to think about implications for our original question.
IV. More About the Relationship Between Justice and Virtue in Plato’s Republic A. We can now say that justice is a virtue. It’s a quality of an entity that allows the entity to do well what it characteristically does. B. But what kind of virtue is it? Socrates proposes that the answer to this will be constant no matter whether it applies to a person or to a city or 18
commonwealth, and so it might do to look for this quality in the city. Let’s begin then by inquiring into the nature of the city, which is to say, the “Republic.” V. What Is the Republic? A. To answer this question, Socrates asks us to imagine the origin of social collectivity and suggests that this origin is to be found in the division of labor. “I think a city comes to be,” Socrates says (369b), “because none of us is self-sufficient, but we all need many things.” B. If we furthermore assume that different people, being different, are able to do different things, the central claim of the Republic emerges: A society will work best if different people do different jobs and, most importantly, if they do the jobs for which they are best suited. This is the originating principle of a good political organization; such an organization will work best if people do the jobs for which they are best qualified. VI. More on Justice and Virtue A. Now we’re able to see the nature of justice and its connection to virtue. B. Justice is the principle that each part of a complex organism like a city should perform the function for which it is best suited, that is, for which it has the appropriate virtue. 1. About the city, Socrates says (433A): “Everyone must practice one of the occupations of the city for which he is naturally best suited,” and this means, for which he or she has the appropriate virtues. When that is true, the city is just. 2. And similarly, the person in whom each part performs that for which it is best suited will, by analogy, also be just. 3. In general, justice is present when each part of a functionally differentiated entity is given the function for which it has the appropriate virtue. Justice then is the virtue that characterizes entities whose functionally differentiated parts reveal the principle: function should be in accord with virtue. Summary: The city is constructed on the principle of a division of function as a fundamental feature of social life. Justice is the differentiation of function based on virtue. Socrates argues that it is good for a society for its citizens to do what they are good at. He further applies this argument to individuals; individuals will function best if their several faculties do what they are best qualified to do. This then raises the question, “What are the virtues of the separate parts of a person?” The Republic asks as one of its most central questions: What would it be like to live a life ruled by reason, where reason is not a tyrant, and where every other element of a person’s being is contributing what is appropriate for it to contribute? Justice is the proper agreement between function and virtue, the proper relationship of being and acting. In this general sense we can come to consider Justice not only as a political or social concept but also as metaphysical one. 19
Phillips.. LECTURE FOUR 20 . 3rd rev. ed. Christopher. Plato: The Dialogues. 2004. Republic. Second and Third Period. How can the Universe as a whole be applied to Socrates’ idea of justice and virtue? 3. Other Books of Interest Friedländler. C. 1969. If a group of people were to rob a bank. Trans. IN: Hackett Publishing Company. 2nd ed. Norton & Co. In the Republic. Paul. How does that compare to the concept of justice that Plato put forth? 4. It is commonly said that justice is the goal of the legal system.W. 1991. Socrates Cafe: A Fresh Taste of Philosophy. or not to do. Trans. New York: Pantheon Books. Indianapolis. Plato.FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING Questions 1. what separate functions would be required. Reeve. 2002. New York: Basic Books. what he or she is best suited to? Suggested Reading Plato. and what virtue for each function would be necessary? 2.C.D. how is one to discern the job best suited for him or herself? 5. Allan Bloom. How does the current system promote or inhibit a person to do. New York: W. Republic of Plato.
1. Glaucon and Adiemantus. Reeve). as we saw. ask Socrates to convince them that it is worth their while to be just by showing them that justice is something of intrinsic worth. as Socrates argues. It does so if there is. What is the relationship between this idea of justice as a correspondence between function and virtue and the simpler sense of justice as a general mode of social morality? The two other principal characters of the Republic. “When he does anything. 2. in just conduct. Justice in the Republic is. taking care of his body. of a just state of character. Socrates’ Argument Regarding Justice A.Lecture 5: The Republic: Justice and the Philosopher King The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Plato’s Republic (translated by C. At the end of Book 4 (443c) Socrates characterizes justice in the following terms: “Justice isn’t concerned with someone doing his own externally but with what is inside him. What are we to make of this shift? Consider this . Will a person be happy merely by virtue of acting justly? 2. What’s the proper relationship between character and the conduct that emanates from character? 3. b. It is the virtue that allows people to live well by exhibiting the harmony of soul in which parts perform the functions for which they are best suited. The modes of proper conduct in society that Glaucon and Adeimantus are referring to when they speak of justice. When they ask this question. One who is just does not allow any part of himself to do work of another part or allow the various classes within him to meddle with each other. How does Plato understand the relationship between the world of being and the world of appearance? I. And for the argument to work.” How does this answer address the question of Glaucon and Adeimantus? 1. . a connection between: a. a virtue both of individuals and of political societies. answers in terms of a harmony of the soul. The harmony of the soul (or “proper character”) that Socrates identifies as justice. Socrates. however. preferably in both directions. whether acquiring wealth. . they are interested in behaving justly. engaging in politics or private contract. In fact we can hear this in what Socrates says: B.D. there must be a causal relationship between conduct and character. in all of these he believes 21 .C.
B. Here’s how Socrates puts it (507b): “We say that there are many beautiful things and many good things and so on for each kind and in this way we distinguish them in our discourse. cities will have no rest from evils. The bottom visible section is thus divided into images and the original things of which they are the images. is in love not simply with the several beings of this world. The bottom section is the visible. LECTURE FIVE B. Forms are the principles of the being and therefore of the intelligibility of things: the principles that enable us to understand what they are. The philosopher. with the intelligible principles of those things being what they are. The Relationship of Being to Appearance A.” C. Healthy things produce health. while the many natures who at present pursue either one exclusively are forcibly prevented from doing so. the top intelligible section is similarly divided. 2. and unhealthy things produce disease. that is. we will need to think what he understands a philosopher to be. The notion of being here is the notion of the essential nature of things that we encountered earlier: not. A philosopher is someone whose eye is turned toward being. Each two sections of those lines are themselves divided in the same ratio. 22 . It’s important to understand correctly the relationship between the things of what Socrates calls the visible world and the forms that are the principles of their being and constitute what he calls the intelligible world. It is. And in the same way. just action produces justice in the soul.that the action is just and fine that preserves this inner harmony and helps achieve it and calls it so and regards as wisdom the knowledge that oversees such action. the world of appearance. Socrates offers a visual model by way of explanation. The philosopher is in love with the forms. III. until political power and philosophy entirely coincide. This is what we earlier called forms. B. II.” C. But Beauty itself. like a line divided into two unequal sections. the many holy things. but their being holy. In order to understand what Socrates means by this claim. for example. as someone who is in love with being itself. The Philosopher King A. What Is a Philosopher? A. believing that there is but one and calling it the being of each thing. the top section is the intelligible. or those who are now called kings and leading men genuinely and adequately philosophize. he says. and the Good itself and all such things we set down as a single form for each. nor I think will the human race. Socrates answers: “Until philosophers rule as kings.” 1. Glaucon and Adiemantus are now led to ask how this ideal city can be brought about. and unjust action produces injustice in the soul. IV.
are defined in their being. Socrates expresses the relationship between the philosopher. because of its kinship with it. or the way an object appears to us from some perspective. and having begotten understanding and truth. and once getting near what really is and having intercourse with it. he knows. Think about the bottom section. The vertical dimension of Plato’s divided line evokes the twin themes of justice and love that properly divide and hold together the City or Commonwealth of being. For Plato to see the forms is to understand the principles of being that govern and make intelligible the world of appearance that we live in. The Philosopher is someone who is in love with what is. truly lives. and this involves seeing it in relation to the other appearances of the chair. Then such a person will not have any part in the love of falsehood. for example.C. by their essential difference from one another. The forms themselves. but will love being and what is. To recognize the look of a chair requires that we understand it to be the look of a chair. E.” 23 . the very nature of things themselves can be seen as a form of justice between essential nature (figured here as virtue) and proper action (figured here as function). Similarly. This justice is determined by an equality of individuals under the forms. to understand a chair is to understand it in relation to all the other chairs and to see the being of the chair which is manifested in each and every chair and every individual chair that we see. D. Insofar as it’s right for things to act out their nature. In our perceptual dealings with the world we are constantly given images of things: the look of things from a particular point of view. justice. is nourished and is relieved from the pains of giving birth. though. and love this way (490a): as the philosopher “moves on he neither loses nor lessens his erotic love until he grasps the being of each nature itself with the part of his soul that is fitted to grasp it. all equal things are equally equal. Summary: Plato represents the allegiance of particular things to their forms as a mode of justice. We cannot understand what these images are unless and until we understand the “original” of the image.
2003. Reeve. How is Justice understood as a virtue of individual organization and as a social and political virtue? 2.C. 3rd rev. Is there a difference between social well being and individual well being? 3. New York: Penguin. LECTURE FIVE 24 .FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING Questions 1. Would people naturally act justly if their actions were completely anonymous? 4. Republic. New York: Routledge. Other Books of Interest Plato. Desmond Lee. C. What is the process necessary for one to see the forms? Suggested Reading Plato. Trans. 2004. Indianapolis. IN: Hackett Publishing Company. Trans. Republic. Malcolm. ed.D. Saving the City: Philosopher-Kings and Other Classical Paradigms. 1999. Schofield.
The Symposium. C. 25 . They were round with four hands and four feet. II. and double genitals. Union with our original other half is what has the potential to bring us the greatest happiness in life. The speeches are given by a group of men who meet at a drinking party (a symposium) in celebration of the awarding of a literary prize to one of their group. unlike other dialogues. Remember that the Greek translation of “Symposium” is “Drinking Party. 1. Plato masterfully creates a set of characters. love is the drive to reestablish the broken and original nature of ourselves that the jealous gods have taken from us. Originally human beings were “double” their present appearance. . B. pointing in opposite directions.” What significance does this have? 2. of appearance as in love with being? I. a head with two faces. C. each of whom praise love in a different voice and in a different way. Eros is the oldest and most honorable of the gods. D. B. Some Standard Mythological Depictions of Eros in the Early Speeches A. Consider this . The result of this having been cut in half has forced humans to continually search to reconnect with their other half. and is surely one of his most influential dialogues. He is the god of skills that depend on the understanding of the attraction of things to one another.Lecture 6: The Symposium: Is the Philosopher Capable of Love? The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Plato’s Symposium (translated by Christopher Gill). Within this myth. is primarily a series of speeches. He is presented as a god of great good to humankind. the God of Love. . it is widely thought to be his finest and most sophisticated literary work. They propose to spend the evening speaking in praise of the God Eros. He is spoken of in relation to Aphrodite. music. How might we think. Aristophanes’ Myth About Love: An Important Midpoint in the Conversation A. The Symposium is perhaps the most elegant of Plato’s dialogues. and astronomy. The Gods became nervous at human abilities and Zeus had all humans cut in half so that they were forced to walk on two feet. as in the last lecture. arts like medicine.
Eros is painted as temperate. we love something. Socrates Questions Agathon A. A Different Idea of Love in Socrates’ Speech A. between fullness and lack. But love is not simply the longing for absolute beauty. Aristophanes presents an extraordinary view of love. for he promises that if we are pious. question and answer form of discussion. love is being lavishly praised as a good and beautiful God. Love is rather of the beautiful and good. as though between being and non-being. IV. to procreate in beauty. 1. when we love. Aristophanes says (193c): “We must praise the god Love . he will restore us to our original state and heal us. In the speech given by Agathon. he questions Agathon. And it is therefore that beautiful and good object love is the love of which is the appropriate object of praise. Socrates has learned this from a description of love given by a priestess named Diotima. Love is therefore not something beautiful and good. in the nature of the discourse. for both leading us in this life back to our own nature and giving us high hopes for the future. and wise. The beauty of something is the beauty a thing has in so far as it is what it is. Beauty is connected with being. The intentional character of love: Love is always of some object or another.D. She teaches him that love is of the good and therefore cannot be the good. To talk about the love of beauty is always to talk 26 LECTURE SIX . B. beautiful. In his questioning of Agathon. It is against this background that Socrates’ entry into the conversation represents a fundamental shift. a kind of divine being that is intermediate. Socrates makes explicit two things about love. Diotima presents a picture of love born of poverty and need. The object that defines and determines love is always something that love lacks. brave. But as in all the early depictions. V. . Socrates first changes the tone of the conversation by switching from set speech to a dialectical. . both rhetorical and philosophical. The incompleteness of love: Love is always separated from its object. and it is one that figures later in Socrates’ account. poised. B. Socrates suggests that love is not a god but rather a daimon. just. nor is it the proper object of praise. and love is determined always by the fact that it is the love of this or that. There is no such thing as simply loving.” E. The true lover must ascend a ladder of love from object to object until love culminates in the love of the beautiful itself (see 210d). 2. make us happy and blessed. Diotima’s Mysteries of Love A. F. young. it is the longing to bring forth in beauty. because love looks toward that which it does not have and which it is in love with. III. for example.
An authentic personal love is simply a particular special interest of the philosophical love the philosopher has of the world in its true being. Alcibiades The last moment of the dialogue concerns the beautiful young man. we thus come to understand that love is framed by death. Love is the ladder to the state in which Eros is transcended in the mode of acceptance. love is that principle that draws the world toward itself. Alcibiades. cosmically. C. the intelligible world. He is the embodiment of self-love gone wrong. a picture of the indulgence to the fair self. It is the creative recognition of what another might be. so our love is a special instance of the universal. C. our children. And in loving people we can help them to love themselves. Summary: Plato shows us that to love the world allows us to engage in an authentic and true love of individuals. however. The philosophical nature begins with the love of what is. VI. is capable of loving it and thus calls it to itself. Love therefore becomes the procreation of virtue in beauty. and calling them to that beauty. The dialectic of philosophy makes being allow for the principle of the world to shine through its appearances. B. D. must learn to see and recognize their beauty. is an ascent into the world of forms.about love in relationship to what the object is. To love something for its beauty is to love something for itself. erotic striving of the universe for itself. The philosopher recognizes the world as its own appearance. It is an ascent into our world seen aright and thus seen as beautiful. as we will see in our next lecture. recognized for what it is and consequently to be loved. VII. This Platonic ascent. Finally. 27 . Love is finally recognized as a virtue and not merely a passion. we constantly lose what we attain and must continually seek to replace our objects of love. in the mysteries of love. ourselves) are not people we choose to love. We are fated to love them and must learn therefore to love them. of how that person might be what they really are. The Archaeology and Theology of Love A. In the final analysis. Remember that the majority of people we love (our parents. Love is coming to recognize the beauty of another person.
Other Books of Interest Pressfield. Tides of War: A Novel of Alcibiades and the Peloponnesian War. Christopher Gill. Trans. 2001.FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING Questions 1. New York: Penguin. 2003. Symposium. What does unconditional love mean in the light of the Symposium? 2. New York: Random House. How do we love someone for themselves? 3. Steven. What is the discipline by which we might learn to love one another? 4. LECTURE SIX 28 . How can we develop the virtue of love? Suggested Reading Plato.
He offers a deeper understanding of something people believe about death and philosophy but don’t fully understand. 29 . He argues that philosophers should embrace and welcome death.” 2. The conversation begins by asking and answering the question: What is death? Is death the release of the soul from the body? Socrates says that death consists of the release or separation of the soul from the body. How does Socrates do this? 1. 1. In saving these youth. C. Here. In an analogy to Theseus and the saving of the Athenian youth. Where would Plato stand on the question of whether animals have souls? I. Is Socrates’ portrayal in the dialogues an accurate picture of the historical person Socrates? 2. The Phaedo takes place in the jail cell of Socrates on his final day before he is condemned to drink hemlock and die. Socrates paints the fear of death as a monster. II. Socrates is presented in the Phaedo in a special light. B. . it would of course be absurd to be troubled when the thing comes for which they have so long been preparing and looking forward. from which the youth must be saved. What role does Socrates play as a spokesperson of Plato’s own views? 3. Consider this . The conversation turns to the topic of death and more specifically to the soul and whether it may be immortal. “Ordinary people seem not to realize that those who really apply themselves in the right way to philosophy. There is an overriding sadness to the dialogue coupled with a fear of death that makes this dialogue a moving and dramatic text. Death and the Philosopher A. The dialogue is Plato’s mimetic narration of the last moments in the life of the dearly beloved character and person of Socrates. Socrates is in a sense saving himself. If this is true and they’ve actually been looking forward to death for all their lives. he is more clearly than ever represented as an exemplar of the philosophical life. . he is more than simply a source of Platonic opinion. Socrates and the Phaedo A. are directly and of their own accord preparing themselves for dying and death.Lecture 7: The Phaedo: Death and the Philosopher The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Plato’s Phaedo (translated by David Gallop).
Immortality of the Soul A. Philosophical discourse is presented as a weaving of a magical spell that can be used to cure people of their fear of death. good rulers and good friends. To understand Immortality as presented in the Phaedo is to understand the concept of living fully in the moment. or to be fully alive.” C. since I believe that I should find there no less than here. however. It is the philosopher’s primary purpose to continually purify himself by separating the soul as much as possible from the body. D.What follows from this is that the Soul is simply the principle of life. In 69e Socrates said: “This is the defense of which I offer you Simmias and Cebes. Philosophers practice dying by practicing a “mock” separation of soul from body. The philosopher is someone who is detached in regard to bodily pleasures and desires. B. He says that to flee from death or to have fantasies of immortality as a conquering of 30 LECTURE SEVEN . C. so that death cannot take away from life. by denying the body. B. He doesn’t define himself with reference to the body but rather to the soul. IV. The Phaedo then becomes a dialogue not so much about death but about how to learn to live with death so that it does not undermine life. To understand the soul to be immortal is to understand the soul to be what it is—The Principle of Life. B. The sense in which the soul is immortal is a sense in which it constitutes in itself the very principle of life. If philosophers are continually preparing themselves for death then it can’t be the case that they will be unhappy when death actually arrives. The philosopher. Socrates presents a therapeutic understanding of dying as something to help people face death courageously and correctly. It means living each moment to its fullest. C. that in order to live fully one must live philosophically and it is his final request of them. to show you that it is natural for me to leave you and my earthly rulers without any feeling of grief or bitterness. D. what does it mean to say the soul is immortal? It can’t mean that the soul doesn’t die or that it lives on forever. Socrates asks of his students this very point. III. Living in respect to the Soul is living in such a way that one is fully alive. The Phaedo as a Conversation About How to Live A. is not an ascetic. It is the explanatory principle (or The Form) by virtue of which things that are alive are alive. If the soul is described as the principle of life. True philosophers make dying their profession. Plato’s view is that to live this way is to live philosophically. This is identified by Socrates as a cathartic detachment and purification. Immortality is not living forever but living our lives in such a way that death does not disqualify or make meaningless the actual force of our lives. for that would mean defining oneself in terms of the body.
the bravest and the wisest and the most just of human beings.death is actually to flee into its arms. At the end of the enlightenment.” “Be of good cheer and say that you are burying my body only. Socrates claims that a life of enlightenment is a turning from these shadows and an exiting from the cave into the full light of the world. There is a parable in the Republic in which human beings are presented as living in a cave where all they see are the shadows on the wall. Socrates understands that his death cannot undo the life that he has lived. When we refuse to live through our lives. seen as it is in the light of being and intelligibility. the philosopher finds himself in the world. THE SOUL AND DEATH Consider the following two statements of Socrates on the subject of philosophers continually preparing for death: “(T)he soul of the philosopher greatly despises the body and avoids it and strives to be alone by itself. and in the world seen clearly. Summary: “Such was the end of our comrade who was.” The importance of Socrates is his exemplary life that comes shining through in the Phaedo. when the philosopher turns his eyes upon the principles of the forms. It is a portrait not just of someone who has lived well but also of one who has died well. refuse to die each day to our lives and be resurrected each day into the next moment of our lives we die in our lives. we may fairly say of all those we knew in our time.” 31 .
New York: Oxford University Press. The Cambridge Companion to Greek Tragedy. P.E. Trans. What has allowed Platonism to exist? 4.” how would one do this in contemporary society. New ed. Other Books of Interest Easterling. If “to flee from death is to flee into its arms. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1997. David Gallop. 1999. Phaedo. What makes Plato’s dialogues so powerful? 2. How does the Platonic concept of immortality differ from the generally accepted contemporary definition of the word? Is it possible to reconcile the two? 5.FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING Questions 1. LECTURE SEVEN 32 . What permits a text to become canonical? 3. and are there any good examples? Suggested Reading Plato.
He also wrote about chemistry. After this he served as the tutor to the son of the King of Macedon. where he studied biology. and often quite difficult to understand. philosophical psychology. He then went to the Island of Lesbos. In all of these. metaphysics. B. The rewards. How did his “attention to detail” help Aristotle’s investigations? I. As a teenager he moved to Athens. He was an immensely prolific writer and thinker who worked in such diverse areas as logic. 2. ethics. It is revealing to note that Aristotle is studied throughout the world. Aristotle was also a biologist of great subtlety and scope. his writings are engaging and rewarding. Today he is studied not just by scholars in classics and philosophy but also by thinkers in theology. 3. 1. of reading Aristotle are enormous. Aristotle. 33 . he was introduced to Western Europe through the science and philosophy of Muslim civilization.Lecture 8: Aristotle: Patience with Complexity The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Aristotle’s The Basic Works of Aristotle (edited by Richard McKeon). political theory. Reading Aristotle is different from reading Plato. literature. Here he taught and studied for the next fifteen years. and literature. history of science. He was insatiably curious—from the intricacies of chicken embryology to the study of being. physics. What impact did Aristotle’s travels have on his writing? 2. In this lecture we discuss the basics of studying Aristotle’s works. where he founded his own school called the Lyceum. unlike Plato. Reading Aristotle A. . C. Almost a quarter of his surviving texts are devoted to his research and findings in the biological sciences. Consider this . who grew up to become Alexander the Great. . His texts are dense. and psychology. where he studied under Plato at the Academy. elliptical. Aristotle was born in Macedonia in Northern Greece to a moderately prosperous family. 1. The body of Aristotle’s work is not as polished as the dialogues of Plato. He stayed there for twenty years. until Plato’s death in 347 BCE. and politics. D. however. his writing reads more like notes for lectures. Following this he returned to Athens. lacks literary irony or humor and this can make much of his work seem dry.
Aristotle is a reminder that there are some disciplines of thought. III. form. it is equally important to know when closure would be premature and when thought must continue. Aristotle can be characterized as a person. Many of the conceptual terms that we take to be embedded in the structure of our thinking were first Aristotle’s.II. mysteries. it is important to understand how we have arrived at this conception. Aristotle exhibits an unwavering patience for staying with the complexity of intellectual problems. such notions as matter. regardless of the difficulty of reaching a solution. Think of Aristotle in relation to John Keats’ notion of “Negative Capability” with certain changes. In addition. and essence. Of course. Ultimately this recognition of Aristotle’s insistence on staying with a problem. Reading Aristotle. but he was a master in bringing to light those things that we already knew but didn’t see. B. of how we come to fashion our lives and our world. LECTURE EIGHT 34 . capable of being in uncertainties. and philosophy may be among them. must be seen as a virtue. and this is something that we need to recognize and emulate if we are to read Aristotle with understanding. B. If we think of philosophy as an enterprise of self-understanding. Seeing this as an intellectual virtue is to understand that while it is often important to come to closure and know when deliberation must end. for to understand how we conceive our world today.” and that is an accurate characterization. It is as though he were the discoverer of the conceptual shape of our world. for example. constitutes philosophy in one of its deepest forms. and doubts without reaching after closure and the cessation of reason. substance. We owe to him. Aristotle didn’t invent these features of our world. “The Master of Those Who Know” A. Aristotle established the very ways that we have of thinking of things. Aristotle’s Patience A. then the understanding of philosophy’s history is important to this very enterprise. Recognizing his patience will help us to understand the “rambling” nature of some of Aristotle’s thought. Aristotle remains important today. To stay attentive to the complexities of thought and language or to the “shape” of an area of our world is here of equal importance. C. and struggling with his ideas. where action and conviction and closure are not necessarily the primary goal. Summary: Having shaped fundamentally the way we conceive the world in which we live. Dante was to describe Aristotle as “The Master of Those Who Know.
35 . Ackrill. 2001. What major difference is there between the writings of Aristotle and Plato? Suggested Reading Aristotle. New York: Simon & Schuster. Mortimer J. 6th ed. 1995. Ross. Ed. 1997. Sir David. The Basic Works of Aristotle. essence. New York: Random House.L. Other Books of Interest Adler. 2. substance. Aristotle for Everybody: Difficult Thought Made Easy. Aristotle. Richard McKeon.FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING Questions 1. form. How do you think these conceptual terms are related to one another? 3. New York: Routledge. Think of how you understand these basic notions that have entered our conceptual vocabulary through Aristotle: matter. and J.
The Posterior Analytics discusses the formal representation of scientific understanding. Logic in this sense is a version of a theory of thought. What does it take for two sentences together to allow the inference of a third? What allows us to infer? I. Aristotle’s works. meaning statement. . some things being taken to be true. The Prior Analytics and the Syllogism A. B. and so it follows that C is the case. These works represent instruments for a number of theoretical activities Aristotle wants his readers to think about. may be looked at in a general sense as Aristotle’s logical theory. At its simplest. Do you have to be a master of physics before you can ride a bicycle? 2. We are entitled to infer the truth of C from the truth of A and B because of the fact that A and B together imply C. In this work. a syllogism is a piece of reasoning in which.Lecture 9: The Organon: Substance as the Primary Mode of Being The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Aristotle’s The Basic Works of Aristotle (edited by Richard McKeon). The two works have somewhat different purposes: A. The Prior Analytics concerns the modes of inference and reasoning that are required for such understanding to be worked out. C. . A is the case and B is the case. The word for syllogism comes from the Greek logos. The Prior Analytics is concerned then with the formal account of the sorts of relations that assertions must have to one another in order for us to be able to infer something else. other things are thought to follow from those things being true. But of course these methodologies or tools of thought are not necessary in all the practical aims of one’s life. LECTURE NINE 2. The Analytics There are two books that make up the Analytics: The Earlier or Prior Analytics and the Later or Posterior Analytics. Consider this . Aristotle above all presents a theory of the syllogism. B. 1. 1. collectively known as the Organon (instrument or tool). II. A syllogism brings together two statements in order to infer a third. 36 .
D. Scientific understanding is occasioned by causal explanation of which a paradigm form is a certain kind of syllogism. In Aristotle’s view these elements are either one of two things: 1. C. that is. subjects. so Dobbin is a mammal. This understanding is found in discovering what features of the phenomenon in question are going to serve to explain what one is trying to understand. that is. so Dobbin is not a mammal. denials. 2. what is affirmed or denied of the subject. He sees all thought and discourse as exhibiting that structure of subject and predicate. Aristotle argues that we take ourselves to understand something when we know its cause. as the faculty by which we come to understand principles of explanation. 2. Scientific understanding then is an explanatory art and is brought about by the very phenomenon of explanation itself. Mind. IV. b. An affirmation of what is the case: Dogs are mammals affirms being a mammal of dogs. What do assertions have to look like for an inference to follow? What must be the “shape” among affirmations. 37 . that is. affirmed or denied. The predicate that is said of the subject. In this book Aristotle is concerned with demonstration. 1. A demonstration is something that gives us scientific understanding. The Prior Analytics. understanding of phenomena in the world. is concerned with the patterns of inferential reasoning.III. and predicates for them to allow for valid syllogisms from which we can infer other truths? E. Aristotle’s discussion in On Interpretation presents a logical grammar of thought. On Interpretation A. Within each of these are two important elements: a. A denial of what is the case: Porpoises are not fish denies being a fish of porpoises. The ability to grasp these modes of understanding is made possible by our possession of mind or intellect. The short book called On Interpretation concerns itself with the elements that go into making up this syllogistic reasoning. The subject about which something is being said. in other words. 3. that is. Dobbin is a horse and horses are mammals. Predication can involve both the specific and the general. when we know what’s responsible for it being the case. The Posterior Analytics A. B. Dobbin is not a horse and horses are mammals. is the capacity to see the intelligibility and coherence of the world and therefore to explain the world scientifically. C. B. Consider which one of these sets of assertions gives a true syllogism.
A valid conclusion can only come from premises that are logically connected to one another. having an essential nature and the consequent primacy of substance as the basic category of being and predication here come together. logic was an instrument. “the organon. Thus. Because substances are precisely what they are. be open to further incidental determination. The Categories A. Aristotle first developed the syllogism. ARISTOTELIAN LOGIC The history of logic in Western philosophical thought began with Aristotle. Being a subject. B. For the very word category enters our language because of the title of this book. Source: Stanford University Encyclopedia of Philosophy 38 . Substance is the first of the categories and is said to be that which is neither predicable of a subject nor present in a subject. they are capable of constituting the ultimate subjects of predication. and it is able to constitute this ultimate subject because it has the kind of determinate essential nature that it has. the core logical argument form consisting of two premises and a conclusion.” by which mankind might be enabled to come to know anything. LECTURE NINE Aristotle sought a coherent common methodology that would serve any scientific or discursive discipline. the categories can be seen as different modes of being. Aristotle’s book. His purpose was to establish the conditions under which a deductive inference is valid or invalid. the Categories. Immanuel Kant thought that Aristotle had discovered everything there was to know about logic. Substance is able to take on different attributes while remaining one and the same individual. From them emerges the fundamental claim of Aristotle’s ontology—that having a definite nature is a necessary condition for the possibility of serving as the ultimate subject of all predication. In addition. More recently. Subsequently. It is central precisely because it constitutes the ultimate subject of predication. there has been a recognition that there are a number of similarities of approach and interest between Aristotle and modern logicians. The “categories” are kinds (and hence categories) of predication. adherents of Aristotelian logic and those of the new mathematical concepts were at odds and considered their respective efforts incompatible. In modern times. The word kategorein in Greek means to predicate.V. then. while remaining exactly what it is. It can. Aristotle goes on to claim that the primary mode of being is substance. is relevant to our idea of Aristotle as an inventor or author of the basic features of our conceptual schemes. They are the different modes of what we say about some subject when we assert what is the case. in other words. Summary: Substance is an important category in Aristotle’s thinking.
. IA: Harcourt Brace & Co. Is there a relation between predication and being? How are they different sides of the same coin? Suggested Reading Aristotle. J. New York: Oxford University Press. Rubenstein. Aristotle: Categories and De Interpretatione. 1975. 2001. and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Dark Ages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.L. Richard E.FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING Questions 1. Ackrill. 3rd ed. What Greek word does Aristotle use to describe our terms of mind and intellect? 2. 2003. Jonathan. Other Books of Interest Baron. 39 . Thinking and Deciding. Dubuque. Trans. Muslims. Aristotle’s Children: How Christians.
“The Book That Comes After the Physics. What is the relation of weights and their weights? 3. Our word metaphysics comes directly from the title of Aristotle’s book. B. in effect. we can think of the assertion as equivalent to “I am being a grass cutter. In investigating being. and 12. as he puts it.” being is inherent in the very predicative structure of assertion. The science that he envisions in the Metaphysics is a general one. what is also sometimes translated being qua being. Aristotle wants to understand. being. 2.” Aristotle himself describes the subject matter of the Metaphysics as “first philosophy. in “I cut the grass. Aristotle says that being is equivocal.” 40 LECTURE TEN . being as being.” being is referred to. Books 4.Lecture 10: The Metaphysics: What Is Philosophy? The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Aristotle’s The Metaphysics (translated by Hugh Lawson-Tancred).” Even in languages without a verb “to be. The book was given this title because in ancient editions of Aristotle it followed works referred to as the Physics and so is. for example—but is focused on being itself. 9. . What Is First Philosophy? A. 8.” For example. Aristotle’s study of being cuts across the categories of being. the Metaphysics. What are the different senses of being healthy? 2. The investigation is concerned not with understanding some specific instance or type of being—being a mammal. as he puts it. He is studying the features of the universe invoked when we remark upon such ordinary facts as the following: The window is open or is closed. .” Consider this . I am seated and I am in this room. Being has no single one sense because there are so many different kinds of being. 7. The study of being is not linguistic. C. it is concerned with ontology on the whole and the universal structure of what is. is “said in many senses. How is it that substances can have a determinate nature and still be the basic fundamental subjects of predication? I. Aristotle at the beginning of Book 4 of the Metaphysics describes “first philosophy” as a science that investigates being. 3. 1. There are a number of features involved in this description: 1. Aristotle is investigating something quite ordinary and ubiquitous. Being isn’t dependent on the existence of the verb “to be.
Think of the difference between being in relation to the several categories and being in relation to the concepts of potentiality and actuality. process. There is a distinction between substance and the other categories of being. Aristotle draws several distinctions related to the study of being. A substance is something not said of a subject but that of which other things are said. therefore. or more generally. Think of this on an analogy with the distinction between weights and their weight (see sidebar. Substance represents a kind of “Subjectness. Aristotle argues that indeed being is said in many senses. namely the question. as in the question of identity: “What is it?” C. At the beginning of Book 7 of the Metaphysics. Aristotle describes the situation this way: “And indeed the question that was raised of old. In the course of his discussion. A substance is something that has a determinate nature. All the different senses of being are related back to. 51). and are to be understood in relation to this primary sense of being. When Aristotle thinks about being. 2.” how could there then be a science of being as such? E. A. II. There is a distinction between substances and their substance. One thinks in terms of categories. 3.D. If being is equivocal and “said in many senses. On the one hand substance is identified with being a this. and is always the subject of doubt. There is a distinction between the two different criteria of substance. Some Ontological Distinctions A. The other thinks in terms of change. 1. and the like. and the structure of things in the world. In addition to these criteria Aristotle draws a distinction between things that are substances and that about them by virtue of which we say that they are substances. III. According to Aristotle there are two criteria in virtue of which we identify something as substance: 1. ‘What is substance?’” B. with being 41 . p. The Nature of Substance DIFFERENT DIFFERENCES One of the reasons that philosophy is so challenging is that there’s never one single way to cup up reality. we must talk about substance.’ is just the question. but that one of these senses. Reading Aristotle demands patience as he moves from one distinction to another. We may think of this as a distinction between substances and their substance.” 2. definition. Because of this the study of being can be conducted by attending to the nature and structure of substance. is primary. predication. and is raised now and always. ‘What is being?. that of substance. This distinction underlies the argument that to understand substance is to understand the nature of being in general. the sense that is reflected in substance. In doing ontology. he makes many different distinctions. between beings and their being. Substance is connected with the what.
He wants us to be free from what he takes to be a Platonist theory. form the shape into which it is made. being in a certain position beneath a door. consists. It’s easy to think of matter and form in terms of change or making: matter is what something is made out of. that which is something in this material sense is specifically that thing. then the form is that by virtue of which the beam constitutes a threshold: in this case. is the matter of the threshold. it will be overwhelmed by the accidental features that are true of it. On this view. matter and form are things that are thought less of in terms of change and more in terms of the structure of predication or being. B.capable of serving as a subject. Correspondingly. A wooden beam which is a threshold. there would be only a constant replacement of one thing by another. the subject which is the horse: the matter of which the horse. in his own right as a substantial being. for example. implied in the doctrine of forms. Substance is the basic kind of being because its being is determinate. Without substance there would be “Ontological Schizophrenia. we can distinguish the following: 1. or of matter and form in this sense: the thing that is a horse being that very thing by virtue of which a horse is what it is. that is. a horse for instance. In order to be determinable a subject has to be determinate. so to speak. B. as it were. Substance in Terms of Matter and Form A. So if the wooden beam is the matter of which the threshold consists. according to which everything is a relation between a subject and its being. 2. These distinctions are related to one another. The matter of something is what the thing consists of. 2.” Instead of subjects undergoing change. the being by which it is a horse: the form or principle by virtue of which the matter is a horse. IV. Aristotle wants to understand how it is possible for us to recognize the unity of a subject and its being. The application of these notions allows us to think through the structure of substance. 1. that which is. Think how fractured life would be if every time we played out a role we became a new individual instead of being the same individual playing a new role. however. and on the other hand with being a what. in other words with having a determinate nature. If something doesn’t have an essential nature. In the Metaphysics. Aristotle wants a theory in which Socrates is human by virtue of himself. how in the case of substance a subject can be identical with what it is. If we take a particular substance. 42 LECTURE TEN . to be further determinable. and this enables it to serve as subject. the combination of subject and being. being the thing. 3. Socrates is a human being only by virtue of his relation to the form human being. C.
in Book 9 of the Metaphysics. Body Nutrive System Perceptual organ Eye Ear What goes here? First actuality = second potentiality An adult Venetian is able to speak Italian (contrast most of the population of Brule. The relation in your answer reproduces the relation between our two senses of substance: weights and their weight. Italian Living A life Eating and digesting Food Perceiving Seeing Actual hearing Thinking Object of perception Sight Sound Thoughts 43 . and that there are two kinds of things to which the term applies. “What do we mean by weight?” You might answer that the term is used in two ways. God is shown to be essentially activity itself. V. “Weights” are the objects used as standards in weighing things—the ounce weight. the half-pound weight. Substances thus express their natures by being them and are thought by Aristotle as paradigms of the general activity of being. the divine. Substance is said primarily to be associated with the notion of activity. It is their weight in the second sense that constitutes them as weights in the first sense. SUBSTANCES AND THEIR SUBSTANCE Here’s an analogy to help you think about the distinction between substances and their substance. Soul Power of digestion Perceptual power Sight Power of hearing Mind Second actuality Object Analogy from language Global Nutrition Perception in General Sight Hearing Thought Guido is speaking Italian while ordering la colazione. Imagine that someone (perhaps a new speaker of English) asked you the question. This allows him to develop a theory in which beings are not just things that stand in some relation to their natures. the notion of activity. in other words. Aristotle wants us to understand the basic structure of being on the model of this human being being human. The Notion of Activity A. Aristotle discusses the divine as the principle of being. Aristotle goes on to develop. Nebraska) even when silent. VI. is that being which is just being what it is. B. the pound weight. In later books of the Metaphysics.D. substances and their substance. First potentiality A Venetian (including a newborn) is able to speak Italian (contrast a newborn dog) even when he can’t yet speak it. The substance of a horse is nothing other than the horse busy at work being a horse. These weights are the weights that they are because of their weight. The Divine A. but are instances of actively being what they are.
” The basic thought of Aristotle’s Metaphysics is in keeping with this very answer. It is in exemplifying that mode of being involved in things being what they are that the divine represents the explanatory principle of substance and thus of being. Judaism. “I AM WHAT I AM. that I ask. LECTURE TEN 44 . then we have invoked the nature of divine being. Moses asks God to identify himself. God answers. Suppose. When. “What is it that constitutes the being of a horse?” If we answer this by saying that the fundamental structure of the horse’s being is its being what it is.B. in Exodus. For the fundamental structure of Aristotelian being is exemplified in the fact that each thing is exactly what it is. This explains how God could be thought to constitute the fundamental principle of all being in the world. C. for example. and Christianity. Summary: It is for this reason that Aristotle appeared so attractive to the biblically rooted religions of Islam.
1989. Hugh Lawson-Tancred. and how do they help explain the soul? Suggested Reading Aristotle.FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING Questions 1. Aristotle on Substance: The Paradox of Unity. Identity and Explanation in Aristotle’s Metaphysics. New ed. 1994. Mary Louise. and Mary Louise Gill. Scaltsas. 45 . Witt. Charlotte. Theodore. How are the soul and body related according to Aristotle? How does this relation work with regard to the mind? 3. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Ithaca. The Metaphysics. Substance and Essence in Aristotle: An Interpretation of Metaphysics VII–IX. 1999. 1991. What are the different levels of potentiality and actuality. New York: Penguin. Unity. Other Books of Interest Gill. Oxford: Clarendon Press. What is the sense in which someone who gives a thoroughly biochemical explanation of life could be said to be offering a theory of the soul? 2. Trans. David Charles. NY: Cornell University Press.
or why not? I. would the coffee cup be alive? 2. But he also placed great emphasis on the explanatory role of scientific theory.Lecture 11: Biology and On the Soul: Life and Consciousness The Suggested Reading for this lecture are Aristotle’s De Anima (translated by R. 1. The seed has the power to produce the 46 . According to Aristotle the animal is contained in the seed. LECTURE ELEVEN 1. He rejected this idea that the parts of the offspring must be in the seed of the parents. Lennox). C. Consider this . An example from embryology will make this clear. but only formally.D. a natural science like biology did not consist simply of the gathering of empirical evidence. Aristotle did extensive work in the biological sciences. Why. B. . Aristotle believed that the complex nature of biological phenomena can best be explained by showing the “fit and join” of bodies and their organs to lives and their practices. Aristotle and Biology A. For Aristotle. with the activity of theoretical science. biology for Aristotle referred back to the more theoretical and ontological dimensions of the philosophy of life. This relation of structure to function is involved in the teleology of Aristotle’s biology. In addition. . which meant that material structure was not as important an explanatory fact as formal structure. Hicks) and On the Parts of Animals I–IV (translated by James G. 1. as evidenced in his treatise De Anima or On the Soul. Above all. Aristotle argued against the view. If you could take a soul and put it in a coffee cup. 2. common in antiquity. He understood functions to be explanatorily prior. his biological work is rich in its understanding of the relation of organic structure to biological function. and did much work in classifying and enumerating features of animal life and in discovering empirical evidence among those features. 2. He was interested in animal life from the standpoint of natural history. natural history was always to be coupled with demonstration and explanation. Aristotle’s biological writings present a complex mix of observation and analysis within the context of a theoretical account of animal life. that the embryo and its parts are contained in miniature in the body of one or another of the parents (usually the father).
Book 2 offers a general account of the soul and its faculties in general and a detailed discussion of the nature of perception. Things that are alive have self-initiated motion so that they can act in the world. 2. On the Soul is written in three books: 1. Book 1 considers the theoretical account of soul and life given by Aristotle’s predecessors. B. 47 . it helps to think back to Plato’s Phaedo. Aristotle agreed with his predecessors in their understanding of what the soul is meant to account for. They are able not merely to act in the world but to be affected by the world and be aware of that affection.” is asking.” it might then be clear to us that someone asking. The characteristic activities that mark out things as alive are fundamentally two: 1. For in asking what the nature of the soul is. Perception. “What is the soul.animal by a process of formation in which the seed supplies information on how to produce another of its same kind. having a soul means being an animal.) II. Book 3 talks about the nature of soul to human beings and the essence of thought. The Treatise De Anima or On the Soul A. We can understand this fact by imagining the following question: why does Aristotle begin his discussion of the soul by asking what a soul is rather than by asking whether or not there is a soul? 1. “What is it to be alive?” III. The Structure and Argument of the Treatise On the Soul A. 2. for what if we could explain thoroughly what it is to be alive based solely on chemical and natural principles without any reference to the soul? 2. Aristotle’s book On the Soul is an abstract. B. (This is in essence what we today think of as the role of DNA. But in such a case. In thinking about Aristotle’s treatment of the soul in this work. It may help understand this fact to note that a common word in Greek for being alive means having a soul. theoretical account of animal life. Self-motion. Living things exhibit some form of perceptual consciousness or awareness. Imagine if instead of saying that someone were alive or dead or had just died we said that they were “besouled” or “unsouled” or “desouled. the soul is whatever the principle is that explains living things being alive. 3. 3. those very principles would constitute the nature of the soul. Aristotle is asking simply what the distinction is between living and non-living things. That may seem wrongheaded.
An organism is not a simple combination of a body and a soul. IV. Similarly. “is the first actuality of a natural body that has life potentially in it. For Aristotle. must itself be something that is alive.” an instrument. The body. something that when attached to a body brings life along with it. 3. 2. Aristotle argues that if that were the case. The realized ability of an adult to speak English. in other regards. On his view there is a necessary relationship between body and soul that is clear only if we understand the soul to be the form of the body. B. it is an “ensouled” body. and a potentiality for further realization. But in order for this to be true. his predecessors thought that the soul itself must be in motion. The second of these levels is what Aristotle means by a first actuality. we will need to understand the notion of a first actuality. He describes the body as “organicon. we might say. even if the speaker is momentarily silent. a. the soul. the body must be highly organized and determinate. he disagrees that the soul. it is at once the realization of a potentiality. 4. Early in Book 2 Aristotle offers a general definition of what the soul is. You could add a soul to a coffee cup and the coffee cup would be alive. 3. This ability itself (as is made clear when one is silent) is distinct from the actuality of actually speaking. 48 . LECTURE ELEVEN 2. b. 1. The full actuality of speaking. he writes. The soul is the form of an animal of which the body is simply the material correlate.C. Like the ability to speak English. the soul would be capable of bringing about life by its connection to any body whatsoever. The soul is the set of capacities that resides in that body. But there is a difference between the potentiality that a newborn has to speak English and the potentiality of an adult English speaker. Aristotle disagreed with his predecessors. So we can distinguish three levels of potentiality and actuality. this is a fundamentally incorrect manner of looking at the relation of body to soul. Aristotle says this misunderstands exactly what it is for something to be a principle of the ability to move. realized in actual talk. is the global organ for the carrying out of the functions of life. The potentiality of a newborn to speak English. in order to be the principle of an animal being alive. the activity that occurs when one is engaged in talking English. Aristotle’s Definition of the Soul A. To account for the motion of a living thing.” To understand what Aristotle means. Every human being has the ability or potentiality to speak English. however. C. 1. The adult’s ability is the “developed” potentiality of the newborn’s. Aristotle makes this point about the body by using a word we encountered earlier.
It is because the eye is an organ designed to capture the look of things that the animal is able to see. our ability to perceive or take the world in and transform it. V. The nutritive faculty: the power these things have to do something. In his discussion Aristotle construes “seeing” as passive and “being seen” as active.D. 4. Our ability to take in food and to make it into ourselves is analogous to the capacity for perception. 4. The soul is analogous to the adult’s realized ability to speak. (part of) the bodily system of the perception. the activities we might call “psychic” (from the Greek psyche. The scheme we outlined can be applied to the psychic capacity of the nutritive system: 1. Seeing is thought of as being affected by the activity of a visible thing in its appearing to a subject. E. Seeing itself is the activity. This scheme of Body/Soul/Living is only the global version of a scheme Aristotle employs throughout his work. The perceptual capacity is a power that an animal has by virtue of having an organ with the ability to take in the sensible form of that which is perceived. For the object itself has its own power. 2. as it were. intestines. soul): the activities of life. and digestive structure. The activity of living is analogous to the activity of actual speech. One of the central capacities of animal life is the capacity for nutrition. C. The soul is such a principle in which living is the analogy of speaking English. 3. the ability or power to see. With it he gives a general account of the activities that distinguish living beings. the power of visibility. Roughly. 3. Two Examples of “Psychic” Activities A. D. Aristotle then adds a fourth part to this structure. in this case. the analogy looks like this: The body is analogous to the infant’s ability to speak. Sight is the faculty. E. 1. F.” In this sense “seeing” and “being seen” are the same activity. Now consider this scheme (now four-part) with respect to a psychic activity of perception (seeing. Eating and digesting: the activity of nutrition. What is seen is the object of the activity. The general account of sense perception is that it is capacity to take on the sensible form of an object without the matter. 49 . and that power is realized in “being seen. Thus the subject and the object are linked in a perceptual chain. for example). Perception is the passive ability to be affected by the sensible form of things. into conscious awareness. B. 2. The bodily nutritive system: the stomach. The eye is the organ. the object of the eating: food.
But does the cream cheese then smell the onion? Of course not. but rather as the paradigm instance of consciousness pure and simple. Recall from the Metaphysics that mind is “that which is most divine about the universe. LECTURE ELEVEN 50 . Aristotle’s view is that the mind is the ability to be aware of the world without the mediation of any of the material elements required for perceptual capacity. Smelling. like seeing and hearing and like perception in general. Suppose you leave an open onion next to some cream cheese overnight. elaborated through Book 2 and the opening chapters of Book 3 of On the Soul. is thus preparatory to a more general question: What is the nature of awareness? In Book 3. it is being affected consciously. Aristotle closes his discussion with an apparent difficulty. is a form of conscious awareness. and that allows us to think of ourselves as humans leading our lives and not just living them. This is because the cream cheese has taken on the sensible form of the onion without its matter. It is thought that allows us as humans to experience the world as we do. Aristotle turns to a theory of mind.” For Aristotle the most divine activities are reproduction and thought—reproduction because it is the way that animals have to most emulate the eternity of the divine and thought because it is the way that animals have to most emulate the activity of the divine. Summary: Aristotle’s theory of perception. Mind appears here.G. not as a monitor that oversees perceptual activity and allows sensation to become conscious perception. In the morning the cream cheese smells like onion. but what more is there to smelling than being affected by a smell? Aristotle replies to this by saying that smelling is not just being affected.
Philosophical Issues in Aristotle’s Biology. Trans. 51 . New ed. Trans. According to Aristotle. Lenox. WI: Dumb Ox Press. MA: Cambridge University Press. What precedent would Aristotle use to support such a claim? 2. Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics. In this lecture. Thomas. New York: Prometheus Books.D. On the Parts of Animals I–IV. Cambridge. What is the difference between actuality and potentiality? Suggested Reading Aristotle. R. James G.FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING Questions 1. 1987. ———. Other Books of Interest Aquinas. New York: Oxford University Press. 1995. Allan. 2002. and James G. Beloit. Hicks. 1991. it is suggested that the term “desouled” might be appropriate for the dead. eds. Lennox. how are the soul and the body related? 3. De Anima. Gotthelf.
and specifically the role that virtue plays in a good human life and in the achievement of happiness. To say that ethics is concerned with the question of how to lead a human life so as to achieve happiness is characteristically Aristotelian.Lecture 12: The Nicomachean Ethics: Ethics and the Good Life The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics (translated by Roger Crisp). Action in the sense of praxis involves choosing to do a certain thing in light of our sense that our action will achieve an end that we take to be 52 . . choice and moral action and the role that they play in a life of human virtue. . but in terms of the flourishing and happiness of human beings. we will now be thinking not just about animal life in general. B. His account includes a discussion of the nature of deliberation. The Argument of the Nicomachean Ethics LECTURE TWELVE A. Consider this . in such a way as to focus upon the question of what kind of person we wish to become. We may put it simply by saying that ethics is the understanding of what it means to lead a good human life. It is to identify the subject of ethics not so much in terms of some external structure of obligation. In that sense Aristotle’s ethics is a general theory of good action in the sense of what we are to do. What is it that will make for a happy and well-functioning life? I. Ethics for Aristotle is not concerned with thinking about obligations and duties we might be thought to have outside of our simply being good human beings. identified as happiness. Aristotle considers general issues concerning the goals of human life and action. B. but conceived. Aristotle argues that all questions of human activity involve a conception of the good at which we aim. specifically the work known as the Nicomachean Ethics. In this work. purposefully aware of ourselves as acting: engaging in what the Greeks called praxis. 1. At the beginning of the Ethics. In discussing Aristotle’s ethics. but specifically about human life. He means by this that we are not simply living our lives but are leading our lives. a life devoted finally to achieving human wellbeing or happiness. the kind of action that is distinctively human. What Is Ethics? A. How might we go about achieving these things? 3. as we shall see. What as human beings do we want out of our lives? 2. II.
that happiness is the highest good of human life will seem trite if we don’t remind ourselves of what it is being contrasted to. 1. To point out. To say that happiness is the good of human life is to say that there is no end outside of human being that our lives are directed toward. 2. Happiness really means a life in which things have worked out in the way we would like them to work out. D.” cognate with words like “perhaps. The Greek word for happiness. Happiness for Aristotle is a mode of well-being and not just a state of feeling good. His ethical theory is thus one that recognizes human well-being as the primary normative parameter in terms of which we think about organizing our lives. Note that in asking this question.good. and that the various 53 . Human being is not serving a purpose beyond itself. the action itself is the end. it lies only in doing well. in some cases. 3. C. Aristotle presupposes that what we aim at is the highest human good: human welfare and well-being. however. Aristotle says we will be able to give an even clearer answer to what is the meaning of happiness. 2. Otherwise if we imagined that everything we choose is for the sake of some other thing that we choose. happiness is “the same as living well and doing well”. an end that we want to see realized. Aristotle asks. Aristotle goes on to answer the question. cases important for Aristotle’s argument. Indeed. for example. Then what is the highest good at which human action aims? 1. like being a carpenter or being a professor) could be said to have functions. 1.” suggest that still for us happiness in its true sense signifies the condition of how things go for you in your life. what is the good of human life? He says that everyone agrees that the ultimate good of human life is happiness. B. As Aristotle says explicitly. happiness is not about feeling good but about leading a life that is good.” and “happenstance. we would be involved in an infinite regress. there must be some mode of acting that is desired for itself and not for the sake of something else that it might bring about. This end need not be independent of the action itself. It is for this reason that Aristotle sees a life well lived as a life characterized by happiness. that the various activities of human life (professions. Aristotle argues. if we attend to the question of the function of human beings. 3. What Is the Nature of Happiness? A. eudaimonia. or something that the action brings about. III.” “happen. The etymology of the English word “happiness. understood as the good of human life. that has been lived well. Could it be the case. and the good of human being therefore doesn’t lie in the fulfillment of such an external purpose. suggests simply a life that is successful.
a function is simply the characteristic activity that a thing engages in. that is.organs of the body could be said to have functions. Happiness on this account turns out to be activity of the soul in conformity with virtue. is centered on the notion of virtue. they are characteristic dispositions that are formed by habituation. and how should I act? but equally and perhaps more importantly. be a function of human being in general. realized in the form of a virtue and realized by the very activities that the virtue is a dispositional capacity toward. the virtue of courage. and those actions are understood to be virtuous only when they emanate from such states of character. For the Greeks in general.” Consider. IV. 1. In Book 2 of the Nicomachean Ethics. what kind of character do I aspire toward? Of course. but character is nonetheless central. such as a person of practical wisdom would use to determine. V. but that being a human being itself does not have a function? 2. There must. Aristotle’s ethical theory. Virtue is an intermediate notion poised between a natural capacity. the person I want to be is a person who acts well. So Aristotle hopes to articulate the meaning of happiness by attending to the characteristic activity of what it is to be human. as an instance of this analysis. And being courageous is something we become habituated to by continuing 54 LECTURE TWELVE . 1. but character itself is always formed by the modes of action. Function A. C. Character is necessary in the structure of human life. living a characteristic human life in conformity with the notions of what would make a life of that sort good. What should I do. Aristotle says that virtues are not natural. What kind of person do I want to be. B. Aristotle puts it this way: “A virtue is a characteristic involving choice. consisting in observing the mean relative to us. We can think of virtues in terms of second nature. Remember (think back to Plato’s Republic) that function is not the notion of an instrumental purpose outside of itself. 2. in that we are not born with them. the idea of leading a good life was not simply about the question is. but they are not contrary to nature either. These states of character are the virtues. Virtue A. he argues. 1. like that of Plato. 2. Aristotle introduces us to the subject of virtue. a mean defined by a rational principle. B. Courage is the capacity to act courageously in the right circumstances and in the right way when we are called upon to do so. The focus here is on the development of states of character that will lead to certain actions.
therefore. The chief ethical question becomes: how can we become sensitive to what it is that the world requires of us. the goal of human ethical cultivation is the cultivation of proper and appropriate desires themselves. 3. Choice and deliberation: The virtues. B. Prudence now often refers simply to selfish interests or to interests in contrast to our moral obligations. Aristotle describes courage as “the mean with regard to feelings of fear and confidence. The voluntary: We are praised. E. The Voluntary. Summary: In the Western tradition. blamed. a matter of complex judgment. Virtue is a capacity for the deliberate choice of a good life.modes of courageous action. in this case. So a virtue is the capacity that a moral agent has to know not simply how to behave or act properly but also how to properly allow oneself to be affected by the world. described as capacities for action and feeling. Because moral life is so much involved in deliberation. the prudential is the arena of how to think and act well. The unity of action and feeling are emblematic of a deeper unity that is articulated in the unity of action and desire. VI. To live a good life involves a delicate balance between. C. Finally. but the cultivation of proper desire itself. The theory of choice reveals the fact that these dispositions are really dispositional capacities for deliberating well and choosing well. Aristotle thinks of virtues as means with respect to actions and passions. A sensitivity to what it is situations demand of us constitutes the heart of a good human life. our dispositions are involved globally in our ability to exercise reason in the deliberative choice of how to act. recklessness and cowardice. it is. not for what we are forced to do or do by accident. It’s not enough to have a will. The task of living virtuously is finding the mean. D. The virtues further involve not simply the recognition of proper action or feeling relative to our desire. In that book we are led to a conception of good thinking as an analogy of good acting. practical wisdom came to be called prudence. It is the notion of an ability that an agent has to know what to do and how to act. A virtue in this way involves a mean between an excess and a deficiency. Choice and Deliberation A. where by passion we mean feelings.” 2. are described as relative to choice. But for Aristotle. Thus Aristotle marks off the chief cognitive virtue as practical wisdom. and how 55 . Aristotle turns in Book 6 of the Ethics to the relation between virtues of thought and virtues he thinks of as the moral virtues. Choosing well here means how to act and how to behave and how to feel. Notice that Aristotle describes courage as the mean with respect to feelings of fear and confidence. and held responsible only for what we engage in as voluntary human agents.
The question of how we train ourselves and our children must always be understood within the context of what it is to live as human beings do. as animals within a social context. as political animals. LECTURE TWELVE 56 .can we become possessed of the practical wisdom—the know-how—that will enable us to work out what to do? At the end of the Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle points out that ethical science is merely a department of a much larger concern he calls political science. that is.
Trans. The Political Dimensions of Aristotle’s Ethics. Commentary on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Richard. Telford. How can an action be an end itself? 2.. Morris. 1998. NY: State University of New York Press. 57 . Other Books of Interest Bodeus. 2000. Albany. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. If Aristotle Ran General Motors. New York: Henry Holt & Co.FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING Questions 1. 1999. “What kind of person do I want to be?” Suggested Reading Aristotle. Binghamton. 1993. Kenneth. NY: Institute of Global Cultural Studies. Trans. How would an approach to life differ if one were to seek a good life by asking. Jan Edward Garrett. Nicomachean Ethics. What is the difference between a mode of being and a state of being? 3. Roger Crisp. Thomas V. Can happiness as it is used in the vernacular be understood by Aristotle’s definition of the word? 4.
The Politics A. one of the central components of civilized human beings. In Aristotle’s view. It offers a discussion on the nature of citizenship—a citizen being someone who has power to affect the polis. The goal (the telos) of the polis is the realization of a good life. Human beings are by nature political. It gives an account of what the city (or as we would more generally call it.Lecture 13: Plato and Aristotle: The Politics and the Poetics The Suggested Reading for this lecture are Aristotle’s Aristotle: The Politics and the Constitution of Athens (edited by Steven Everson) and Aristotle’s Poetics: A Translation and Commentary for Students of Literature (translated by Leon Golden). The Politics concerns itself with several issues: 1. social and political life—life in the city or polis—is the environment in which human beings best flourish. is the creation of literary art. what are the possible forms of government? 2. since this affects the questions of good and bad forms of government: is the governing done for the sake of the governed or for the sake of the governing? 4. According to Aristotle. 1. It describes the various modes of constitution or government. . both genetically and formally. to live social lives in common with others with whom we are politically connected. Forms of government can be classified on the basis of answers to these two questions: LECTURE THIRTEEN a. 58 . More importantly. friendship. we will first briefly consider some of Aristotle’s views on political life and then discuss his account of the genre of literature called tragedy. Who rules? b. Is there a linking between politics and a “moral life” in modern forms of government and the arts? I. the Politics can be thought of as an account on the understanding of governance. 3. the state) is. the best form of government is a constitutional government in which many govern for the sake of the governed. In this lecture. One of the central institutions of political life. . For Aristotle. The political in a general sense is the extension of family. Consider this . and all natural human associations. 2. that is. it is our nature to live in the context of civilization or culture. It is a level of social organization that involves governing and being governed.
There are many interesting features to Aristotle’s discussion in the Politics. the “master science” that governs human flourishing. This claim of Aristotle’s about human beings does not mean simply that people are gregarious. man is. like all literature. is an imitation or mimesis. The word “political” has a fruitful analogue in our word civilized. and only there that happiness can flourish. Specifically. 2. It is only in the social and cultural context of civilization that full determination is given to them. How are the notions of tragedy. In the beginning of the Poetics. and happiness. for this reason. More generally. Statesmanship or political science is a form of wisdom. he says. Considering Aristotle’s Poetics together with his treatment of political life in the Politics should raise in your mind questions such as these: 1. in a sense unfinished animals. Statesmanship is a natural human capacity. as Aristotle points out. how is poetry connected to the moral life? 3. It means that only in the context of the polis are human beings able to do their greatest natural good. We can think of Aristotle as urging that human beings are civilized animals. Indeed. The Politics is. Human beings are. and art connected to notions of ethics and politics? 2. The Poetics A. poetry. but here I want to stress only two features I think salient in the theory of the Politics: 1.How many people rule? For whose sake? For the sake of those who govern For the sake of the governed One person rules Several people rule Many people rule Tyranny Oligarchy Democracy Monarchy Aristocracy Constitutional B. a dialect variation of the more standard 59 . well-being. as he puts it. It is the wisdom that enables a statesman to know how best to rule and help others conduct themselves well within society. D. the Greek word “drama” is. II. a political animal by nature. For Aristotle thinks that human beings are by nature social. it is about imitated or imagined action. animals capable of best flourishing in the civilized and cultured environment of a social community in which people are capable of governing themselves well. C. as individuals. Aristotle says that tragic poetry.
This is a place where we can confront terrible possibilities and the fears that they inspire without the pain that would be occasioned if we were to experience these fears in our real lives. 60 LECTURE THIRTEEN . Virtue is shaped by our “acting” out the role of—we might say impersonating—the virtuous person. Some of the connections between tragedy and the moral will begin to be revealed if we consider the complexity of acting. art is similarly capable of marking off a sacred space in which we are allowed to experience emotions safely. How (with apologies to Coleridge) can poetry raise a sunny dome of pleasure upon the icy caves of terror and commiseration? c. Because of this. that is. tragic poetry. ii. praxis. Ritual. b. Therefore. which serves a function of intensifying and enforcing structures of communal life. It is only when the virtue is perfected within us that we are able to act from virtue rather than in imitation of virtue. Recall that for Aristotle the assumption of virtue is achieved by acts of imitation. In this sense. that something that is connected with the mimetic or fictional could be related to something like ethics. a. can be carried out. a tragedy or drama is an imitation of an action. We don’t experience emotions in a theatrical context in the same way that we might be expected to experience them in real life. a. 2. including such intensifications. become firm in our ability to choose and act appropriately. We use the word act to refer both to people who are imitating or performing on a stage and to the actual activity or action of human life. in a sense. By virtue of being imitative. ii. and art in general are like the institutions of ritual. Next we need to consider the nature of tragedy as a form of theatricality. by the instances of acting virtuously through which we become habituated. provides as well contexts of sanctuary in which dangerous activities. for example) is pleasurable yet simultaneously associated with the experience of fear and pity. b. This ambiguity of meaning should remind us of the respect in which all moral action is. An important fact is that the theater—the principle site of drama and tragedy—is an arena of imitated representation. which we consider to be part of the “real” world? B. The events that occasion these emotions are not happening in our real lives. the institutions of theater.Greek word for action. imitative or mimetic. Some features of the Poetics 1. So we need to understand how an otherwise painful experience of fear and pity is able to yield the kind of pleasure that is experienced in drama and poetry. Aristotle holds that the effect of witnessing tragedy (in a poem or on stage. c. emotions get experienced in a context without connection to our practical lives. How is it possible then.
a deed simultaneously commanded and prohibited. Aristotle’s concern with moral action in the Poetics is thus with the pathology of such action. the fundamental conflict of action is whether or not Antigone should bury her brother. we often will act in ways that bring about our downfall. e. in a space of sanctuary of the universal fear that we are subject to the terrible events that occur in tragedy. ii. A more important ambiguity for Aristotle derives from the distinction between two different modes of capturing and individuating actions: i. Aristotle sees in tragedy a revelation of the constant possibility of fracture between these two aspects of action. good under one description. This is a terrifying fact that tragedy helps us confront. In Sophocles’ Antigone. Aristotle believes that tragedies point to the general liability of action to mishap and consequently the fragility of our happiness and moral character.d. with good deliberation. An action in this sense is an entity in the world. Goodness of character and excellence of deliberation cannot in fact guarantee our happiness. when acting out of good character. The Poetics can 61 . The same action therefore can be understood to be both good and bad. through no wickedness of the agent. an action is what emerges as the result of our activity. Actions can be given many different descriptions. At our very best. We are not gods and cannot guarantee that our actions will bring about our well-being. On the other hand. Tragic poetry can help us to come to terms with the terrible weight of these distinctions. actions that are good from the point of view of an agent may nonetheless be revealed as bad. d. An action is the object of the deliberation or choice of an acting agent. bad under another. in that very world in which they are enacted. Behind all this is Aristotle’s deep interest in the ambiguity of action. This is not the fear that we will undergo the specific events that are depicted in tragedy. An action in this sense is an agent’s activity. it is what someone does. c. b. for example. Summary: Tragedy is a human institution that is designed to help us accept the fact that no mode of virtue can guarantee the efficacy of human action in bringing about the happiness for which we strive. an entity that emanates out of an action but then subsequently has a life of its own. Aristotle is recognizing the fact that there is a fundamental tragic rift in the world at this joint of human action. It is this multiplicity or ambiguity of action that is the phenomena of tragic conflict. with where it breaks down or goes wrong. This ambiguity can be thought of in two different ways: a. What tragedy allows is our experience in an environment of safety. It is the general feature of tragically represented actions that they all derive from the universal possibility of mistake or mishap. What follows from this is the distinction of being responsible for an action and being blamable for an action. 3.
We are invited in the Poetics to acknowledge the fears and vulnerabilities of our well-being. In tragedy. LECTURE THIRTEEN 62 . to recognize that our happiness is subject to an irrational control of destiny that may at any point sever the connection between political virtue and well-being. This cleansing is the catharsis to which Aristotle briefly refers in his account of tragedy. The Poetics goes further by offering us the hope that by acknowledging these fears we may be able to cleanse our lives of their corrosive effect. It is for these reasons that Aristotle believes tragic poetry to represent one of the most significant institutions and powers of political or civic life that we possess. our gaze is directed upon the vulnerability of well being that is presented in the Ethics and the Politics as brought about by civic life.be seen as a sequel to the Ethics and the Politics in that it continues a vision of civic life as the source of our capacity to live satisfying and fulfilling lives.
Ed. NC: University of North Carolina Press.FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING Questions 1. Other Books of Interest Rorty. In what different ways can actions be thought of as ambiguous? Suggested Reading Aristotle. How does art allow us to go beyond what might be considered good? 3. Chapel Hill. 1982. A Philosophical Commentary on the Politics of Aristotle. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Hardison. Aristotle’s Poetics: A Translation and Commentary for Students of Literature. Leon Golden. ———. Trans. Steven Everson. 1996. Amelie O. 63 . 2nd ed. Essays on Aristotle’s Poetics of Athens. 1992. Commentary O.B. 1998. Peter L. How does the complexity of our notion of “acting” reveal itself in dramatic art? 2. Simpson. Aristotle: The Politics and the Constitution of Athens. Tallahassee. FL: Florida State University Press. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
it is important to see that virtue enables a subject to do well what it does: it makes it possible 64 LECTURE FOURTEEN . Virtue A. to specific states of moral character. as ready and developed capacities that individuals have for choosing and acting properly. one could imagine good people simply sleep their lives away. E. According to Plato and Aristotle alike. the question of moral philosophy is not simply the question: how am I to conduct myself in my life. a virtue is a good quality. Most simply understood. These states of character are thought of as dispositions. B. But Plato and Aristotle present moral philosophy more in terms of the development of a skill. with moral law. In this final lecture we end our discussion by summarizing what we’ve discussed throughout the course. It is easy to think of moral philosophy as concerned with rules and regulations on how to behave properly. a good life is a life of activity in which the states of character we call virtues are actualized and not simply possessed. C. A good person is not someone who merely behaves in a certain way. the skill of character. concerned. D. . which means that an individual with a virtue is skilled at behaving morally in an appropriate way. But a good life is a life in which actions are not only in accord with virtue but are the realizations of those virtues. otherwise. Dover’s Greek Popular Morality in the Time of Plato and Aristotle. what should I do? Moral philosophy addresses more specifically the question: How am I to become a good person? What should I be? For both thinkers. Can philosophy help an individual overcome fear of the unknown? I. Consider this .Lecture 14: Plato and Aristotle: A Final Review and Summation The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Kenneth J. but someone who behaves that way out of good character. 1. Such a capacity can be looked upon as a skill. In addition to virtue being a good quality. For both Plato and Aristotle the notion of virtue is of critical importance in the formation of our moral lives and in our understanding of what it is to lead a moral life. “Virtue” in their vocabulary refers less to a general state of moral goodness than to specific features of our character. A moral virtue for Plato and Aristotle is a state of character. Which philosophical contributions by Plato and Aristotle are applicable to modern life? Why? 2. as it were. .
To understand is to comprehend that and why something is the case. offers a clear example of this link. the Theaetetus. including the Parmenides and the Sophist. 65 . for something to be made of copper? The incompleteness of this question becomes evident if we imagine an electrician wondering if she should use copper as the material for some of her instruments. and this view. But if we think of the distinction we noted in Aristotle between a thing and its being. What is striking. being made of copper is indeed a virtue. VIRTUE AND BEING Here’s a question that might help us understand the logical relation between virtue as goodness and being. For Aristotle animals are the paradigmatic modes of substance. this fact of being alive. Plato asks what the essential nature is that is specified by some certain mode of being. that is. Plato stresses his conviction that the world is articulated in ontological structures. it’s highly dangerous. then it’s certainly not true that being made of copper is a virtue. The notion of virtue is always associated then with the predicative being of the subject to which virtue is attributed. is it a good thing. So the question of whether it’s good for some specific thing to be made of copper just depends on what that specific thing is. Being A. But if what she wants to have is an insulator. F. at the center of the analysis. D. Plato shows that you can never grasp the concept of understanding or knowing in that way. He shows that a series of accounts of what it is to understand is marred by the fact that the speakers of the dialogue all take the object of understanding to be a thing. If what she wants is a conductor of electricity. An animal is a being characterized by the fact that it is alive. Soul A.for something to succeed at being what it is. The word ontological here refers simply to the science of being. articulated in terms of being. B. perhaps more particularly in Aristotle than in Plato. The world. C. it follows from this that virtue is linked to being. in its full gerundive and verbal sense. All instances of goodness—of virtue in the broadest sense—are dependent upon and related to the kind of thing that the virtue is said to be a virtue of. We saw this fact expressed in the link between virtue and function. Throughout these discussions. Is it a virtue. II. this idea of the centrality of being is pursued. is the fact that the theory of being places the notion of activity. Plato’s dialogue. for the object of understanding is always an instance of being. but as a dynamic and complex nexus of modes of being— of substances—which express their nature and are what they are. His concern with explaining this notion of being is fundamental to a variety of his philosophical enterprises and projects. III. we may come to think of ontology as being as a theory of the being of beings. In other dialogues. Virtue here depends on being. is not presented to us as a series of inert objects that have qualities stuck to them.
the wisdom whose love Plato and Aristotle. Above all these philosophers share a commitment to reason as critical to our moral. it is important to realize that Plato and Aristotle appeal so strongly not so much because they attempt to offer us certainty and clarity in our lives but perhaps because. however. and of being acted upon without being overtaken by the world. But it would be a mistake on the basis of this fact to categorize Plato as having an overriding sense of “otherworldliness” and Aristotle of “this worldliness. Finally. For both philosophers the features that characterize human animals are awareness and the capacity for self-generated activity. while Aristotle attempts to explain everything as clearly as he can. C. is made possible for Plato and Aristotle by the fact an animal has a soul. The soul. active. define what it is to be alive and consequently what it is to have a soul. It thus means being attentive constantly to our lives as conscious beings and to our lives as thinking. and of the world as we conceive it. the formal cause of things that are alive being alive. Philosophy is not about new discovery but about the recovery of our deepest intuitions and understandings of the world. They call us to live happily in the acceptance of our finite and mortal selves. and free animals. LECTURE FOURTEEN D. The care of the soul means attending to these features of ourselves as rational animals. is not a “something” that we have. B. “desire to understand. a vision possessed by us but often forgotten. a thing that makes us alive. sustained by the eye we keep trained on wisdom. and perhaps justly. “ Aristotle remarks at the opening of the Metaphysics. such a principle is called an essential form and in Aristotle.” We should avoid categorizing these philosophers into mutually exclusive camps. it is simply the principle of our being alive. by which animals are capable of freely acting in the world. These modalities. that Plato seems to court a certain mysteriousness and seems willing to leave unsaid that which he thinks cannot be said. Final Thoughts A. The deepest community in Plato and Aristotle is the vision of philosophy as the mode for caring for ourselves as thinking. Philosophy is understood by both as one of the fundamental modalities of the desire to understand. continually invite us to entertain. In Plato. political. 66 . Philosophy is devoted to wisdom as a redemptive appropriation of our self-understanding and our vision of the world. they allow us to accept joyfully rather than fearfully our own uncertainty. on the contrary. The pursuit of wisdom and thus the enterprise of philosophy is a project of coming to see ourselves as we are. moral agents. “All human beings. rational. as philosophers. B.as the fundamental being of such an entity.” This coupling of the striving of desire with the goal of seeing things as they truly are is what is perhaps most characteristic of the Greek philosophers we have here discussed. aware. IV. It is often said. and spiritual lives and to reason as nourishing us in our innate desire to understand.
PA: University of Scranton Press. MD: University Press of America.” How does this approach differ from our two philosophers’ approaches to moral philosophy? 2. Madigan. 1992. Seth. Berkeley: University of California Press. Corporations commonly have a corporate philosophy or morality often codified in a “Code of Ethics. Patrick. Beginnings of Philosophy in Greece. Other Books of Interest Benardete. What is the commonality of the two philosophers in their understanding of the soul? 3. 2000. Argument of the Action: Essays on Greek Poetry and Philosophy. and Ronna Burger. Kenneth J. Greek Popular Morality in the Time of Plato and Aristotle.FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING Questions 1. Gotshalk. Michael Davis. How can the works of these two philosophers enhance lives of those living in the twenty-first century? Suggested Reading Dover. 1974. 2000. Lanham. 67 . Richard. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Scranton. Aristotle and His Modern Critics: The Uses of Tragedy in the Nontragic Vision. eds.
———. Ed.D. 1997. Jan Edward Garrett. 2002. Berkeley: University of California Press. 1982. Other Books of Interest: Adler. Plato’s Laches and Charmides. 2003. ———. Ackrill.D. 1993. Hackett Publishing Co. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1991. 2004 ———. New Haven: Yale University Press. WI: Dumb Ox Press. Seth. R. Apology. The Metaphysics. 1999. Symposium. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. J. New York: Oxford University Press.B. Aquinas. New ed. New ed. 1974.. Roger Crisp. Benardete. 2000. ———. ———. New York: Prometheus Books. 1996. Steven Everson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Thinking and Deciding. Phaedo. 1990. Trans.COURSE MATERIALS Suggested Reading: Aristotle. eds. ed. Trans. Rosamond Kent. Hugh Lawson-Tancred. New ed. NY: State University of New York Press. Trans. Commentary O. On the Parts of Animals I–IV. Republic. Michael Davis. Mortimer J. Menexenus. Trans. 1995. Albany. Christopher Gill. Richard McKeon. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Plato.E. Lenox. 2000. ———. Plato’s Socrates. Reeve. Allen. Trans. ———.C. David Gallop. The Dialogues of Plato. Conversations of Socrates. Xenophon. Aristotle: The Politics and the Constitution of Athens. 3rd rev. Inc. Aristotle’s Poetics: A Translation and Commentary for Students of Literature. De Anima. New York: Penguin. Trans. Volume 1: Euthyphro. The Political Dimensions of Aristotle’s Ethics. Dover. and Nicholas D. and Ronna Burger. New York: Simon & Schuster. Aristotle for Everybody: Difficult Thought Made Easy. COURSE MATERIALS 68 . Argument of the Action: Essays on Greek Poetry and Philosophy. Thomas. New York: Random House. R. Trans. Leon Golden. The Basic Works of Aristotle. 2nd ed. 2001. Brickhouse. 2000. Trans. 1999. Bodeus. 1975. Nicomachean Ethics. Baron. Aristotle: Categories and De Interpretatione. Meno. 1996. Sprague. Thomas C. Smith. Trans. IN: Hackett Publishing Company. NY: State University of New York Press. 1992. Jonathan. Gorgias. Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics. Trans. Indianapolis. New York: Penguin. Trans. ———. Tallahassee. Hardison. Beloit. Ed. New York: Oxford University Press. 1989 ———. New York: Penguin.L. 2001. C. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 3rd ed. Kenneth J. Hicks. Richard. ———. Albany. Crito. Aristotle and the Theology of the Living Immortals.. James G. FL: Florida State University Press. Greek Popular Morality In the Time of Plato and Aristotle. New York: Oxford University Press. ———.
Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1969. Allan Bloom. 1994. 2nd ed. 1998. Drew A. Sophrosyne: Self-Knowledge and Self-Restraint in Greek Literature. 1966. Richard E. 1998. Desmond Lee. 1997. ———. 1964. Gill. 1999. Unity.COURSE MATERIALS Other Books of Interest (continued): Easterling. New York: Penguin . Republic. Richard. Patrick. Aristotle’s Children: How Christians. Schofield. These books are available online through www.E. Peter L. 69 . NY: Institute of Global Cultural Studies. Muslims. Christopher. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Dubuque. 1981. Republic of Plato. Rubenstein. Madigan. NY: Cornell University Press. 1995. Thomas V. Norton & Co. New York: Random House. Mary Louise. 1987. Princeton: Princeton University Press. IA: Harcourt Brace & Co. Chapel Hill. Sir David and J. New York: Pantheon Books. and Mary Louise Gill. Morris.L. Hyland. Commentary on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. NY: Cornell University Press. ———. Charlotte. 1992. The Virtue of Philosophy: An Interpretation of Plato’s Charmides. Trans.modernscholar. Trans. Socrates Cafe: A Fresh Taste of Philosophy. Telford. Paul. Columbus. Pressfield. Gotthelf. Malcolm. New York: Basic Books. New York: W.. First Period. North. OH: Ohio State University Press.. MA: Cambridge University Press. PA: University of Scranton Press. Tides of War: A Novel of Alcibiades and the Peloponnesian War. and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Dark Ages. 1991. New York: Henry Holt & Co.) Philosophical Issues in Aristotle’s Biology. Ithaca. Ross. 1991. Substance and Essence in Aristotle: An Interpretation of Metaphysics VII–IX. Amelie O. Ackrill. New York: Routledge. Essays on Aristotle’s Poetics of Athens. 2003. Saving the City: Philosopher-Kings and other Classical Paradigms. 2000. 6th ed.W. Witt. 1992. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Allan and James G. Ithaca. Binghamton.. Plato. Lanham. Plato: the Dialogues. Helen. Beginnings of Philosophy in Greece. A Philosophical Commentary on the Politics of Aristotle. 1999. Second and Third Period. Aristotle. Lennox (eds. Gotshalk. Aristotle on Substance: The Paradox of Unity. Phillips.com or by calling Recorded Books at 1-800-636-3399. 1989. Theodore. New York: Pantheon Books. NC: University of North Carolina Press. The Cambridge Companion to Greek Tragedy. Rorty. If Aristotle Ran General Motors. Cambridge. Simpson. 2003. 2001. Plato: the Dialogues. Friedländer. Scranton. MD: University Press of America. David Charles. Identity and Explanation in Aristotle’s Metaphysics. Kenneth. Scaltsas. 2002. New York: Routledge. Aristotle and His Modern Critics: The Uses of Tragedy in the Nontragic Vision. Steven. P.
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