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Review: Aristotle's Ethics Author(s): Trevor J. Saunders Source: The Classical Review, New Series, Vol. 47, No.

2 (1997), pp. 330-332 Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Classical Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/710526 Accessed: 09/07/2010 21:37
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is usurers,but about the confusion of nomosand phusiswhen money (nomisma) of separating ethical thathas a telos.Insteadof beingincapable as a substance treated and politicalissuesfromeconomicones,Aristotleis defending just one positionin a in never been solved modern economic either:whether has that thought paradox money is a token or a commodity(i.e. substance),and whethermarketrelations should be encouragedbecausethey foster social cooperation,or rathercontrolled it. Aristotlearguesthatmoneyis a tokenand thosewho mistake becausethey destroy M. overestimates it as a substanceendangerthe fabricof the polis. (Unfortunately, in this contextwhen discharging his argument Aristotle'sphilosophicalobjectivity the Politicsshouldnot be class loyalties' fromany 'realor imagined [p. 128].Perhaps treatisein the first instance,but it is equally understood as an anti-democratic mistaken to deny that Aristotle'sphilosophyis informedby particularpolitical perceptions.) Classical and neo-classicaleconomic analysis had less of a problemwith the of different objects.SinceHume the lines between-in Aristotle's commensurability Marx still problematized a terms-nomos and phusiswere drawnratherdifferently. and the natural metaphysicaldifferencebetween labour which was ubernaturlich of commodities, labourthe property qualityof an object;yet he then madeabstract socialvalue.Oncethis conflatingthe qualityof an objectwithits measurable thereby movewas made,the Aristotelian objects questionof how to makeincommensurable was no longerasked. commensurable WhetherAristotle'seconomic thought is insufficientor simplyaiming at more himselfto judge. economicsis for everyone than neo-classical fundamental problems M.'s monograph,however,encouragesthe thought that the Aristotelianlevel of economic analysis may prove not altogetherthat mediocre,especially once the solutionsto questionslikejust of moderneconomicsto offersatisfactory incapability comesinto focus. in the marketof medicalservices distribution University of Bristol SITTA VON REDEN

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A. TESSITORE: Reading Aristotle's Ethics: Virtue, Rhetoric, and Political Philosophy. Pp. xi + 155. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996. Cased (Paper, $17.95). ISBN: 0-7914-3047-2 (0-7914-3048-0 pbk). Ethicsis not what it is Little book, large claims.T. arguesthat the Nicomachean collectionof workingpapersused assembled takento be, a rather curiously generally and re-used by Aristotle when giving lectures or seminarsto his philosophical cannot studentsor colleaguesin the Lyceum.WhereasRoss thoughtthat 'Aristotle Classicsedn, 1980,p. vi), havemeantthe workto appearin its presentform'(World's T. believesthat on the contrary'in the form in which it has come down to us' it possesses an 'underlyingcoherence'and a carefullycontrived'rhetoricaldesign', a subservinga strategyof persuasion,by which Aristotleaddressespedagogically dual audienceof philosophersand non-philosophers (pp. 4, 15, 53-4). This latter and more less by a desirefor theoretical knowledge audience,which'is characterised one (pp. 17, 22, 95). The work starts by an attractionto goodness',is the 'primary' with a discussionof merelymoralvirtue;that is, it moveson the level of the 'noble
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of decent but not necessarily (sic) imprecisioncharacteristic philosophicstudents' (pp. 17, 20-3). The purposeof Book I, 1098a16-22,on 'the best and most complete Book X, wherethe two audiences virtue',is to adumbrate areenlightened jointly:for they are there brought to appreciate from their respective standpoints the of the 'political'life, based on the moral virtues,and the philosophic, partnership based on intellectualvirtue. However,Aristotle offers a 'domesticated version of philosophy', without the 'unwieldy and disruptive political consequences that inevitablyattend a life of radicalenquiry',and so 'mutes'but does not dispel the conflictbetweenthe two lives (pp. 3, 72, 104ff.).The 'apparent discontinuities' (p. 6) and 'shiftsin perspective' wish to (p. 54) of the EN as a whole arisefromAristotle's presenthis thesisin such a way as to appealnow to the one audienceand now to the other. Threepointsneedto be stressed. of thethreebookscommonto (a) Theimportance EE and EN is according to T. not thattheymaybe early,but simplythat at the point wheretheyoccurin the EN theyservethe purposes described (pp.7, 53-4). (b) T.'saim throughoutis not to analysecriticallythe philosophical of the text, but arguments merelyto discernhow its variouspartsare pitchedto the 'dualaudience'. (c) Hence the investigative and aporeticcharacterof the EN, while not denied, tends to be elbowedaside in favourof a didacticone. T. alignshimselfwith Strauss,Jaffa,and others who have stressedthe 'citizenhorizon'of the work, and offers a 'political' ratherthana 'philosophic' readingof it, 'to helpbridgethischasm'(pp. 13-15). Considerable is in order.True, the terms'exoteric' and 'esoteric' scepticism (neither mentioned intellectual leveland literary formfor two by T.)denoteworksof different different audiences. But did somekindof dualaudience a workwhich exist,requiring shoulditself be, in somesense,dual?Rather thereseemon T.'saccountto confusingly, be three possible audiences:(a) philosophers,(b) experiencedpolitikoi, seeking 'intellectual clarification' of theiractivities, and (c) ordinary decentpeople.His review of the ancientevidencefor the audiencesof Aristotle's politicalworksis, however, He leansheavilyon the workof others,notablyR. Bodeiis(pp. 14-15), perfunctory. who argues plausibly for (b). T. himself, however,yearns to include also (c), 'well-disposed excellence youngpersonswho are drawnto a moral-political they do not yet fully possess'(p. 19). He cites 1095b2-8, 1103b23-30,and 1179a33-b4; but these passages,while stressingthe need of priormoral formationin the studentof ethicsand politics,and the practical purposeof the study,tell us nothingabout the or readers identityof the actuallisteners of the latter, without (T.speaksconsistently the possibleeffecton the text of oraldelivery). exploring As I understand it, T.'spositionis not quitethat the contentand structure of the EN demonstrate a dual audience,but that such an audience,grantedits existence, accounts The troubleis that for certainfeaturesof that content and that structure. otherexplanations lie readier to hand.It is in thenatureof philosophical discussion to startsimpleand to becomemoredifficultas it progresses, to assumptions according and subject-matter; and in Aristotle's casethe text is apt to be complicated by second thoughts and reworkings.Ethical discussion in particularnaturallyranges over common opinion at one extreme (rememberAristotle's respect for endoxa) to advanced theoryat the other.No doubtas the textvariesin variouswaysthe members of a mixedaudiencerespondvariously-but contingently. To say this is not to claim that the EN is whollyunplanned. But the notion that particular partsof the text are 'addressedto' particularparts of the audience,and that a grand didacticdesign, conceivedprimarily for the benefitof unsophisticated for the persons,is responsible

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twists and turns of the argument, rests on a misapprehension of the nature both of the enterprise and of the document. However, let us lean over backwards. Let us discount 'natural'explanations for the shape of the text, and grant the existence of a dual audience.T.'sown explanations can then hold the field-provided they are convincing in their own right. But they are not: for the matchings of texts to audiences are generally implausible. The double discussion of pleasure is a good test case. T. argues (pp. 7, 62ff., 97ff.) that the first account (7.11-14) is directed especially to philosophers, whereas the second (10.1-5) is 'a reconsideration . . . made necessary by a concern for the education of decent, though not necessarily philosophic, readers'; for it shows that pleasures are to be ranked according to the moral worth of the activities that generate them, and that the pleasures of the intellect are superior to those of the active 'political' life. But is not this theme important to philosophers too (p. 104)? Moreover, the passage is very long and often tough. To imagine that it was written out of 'concern' for the less sophisticated part of the audience is to stray into that territory where the nests of mares are to be found. Universityof Newcastle upon Tyne TREVOR J. SAUNDERS

LATE PLATO
C. GILL, M. M. McCABE (edd.): Form and Argument in Late Plato.

Pp. xi + 345. Oxford: ClarendonPress. 1996. Cased, ?35. ISBN: 0-19-8240-12-0.


Just as there is a presumption that no importance can be attached to the fact that Parmenides used the medium of poetry, so, in the case of Plato, there is a view that the dialogue form in the later work has no particular significance. Such a notion, however, is unlikely to have much of a life in the aftermath of this feast of a book in which scholars, thoroughly at home with Plato, address two fundamental questions: namely, the reasons for continuing with the dialogue form in the later oeuvre and the implications of this for the perspectives underlying Platonic philosophy. What follows here is an indication of some of the riches in store for the reader. Parmenideshas often been regarded as a haphazard collection of arguments which concludes in a cul-de-sac. But as she patiently stalks through a seeming undergrowth of imprecision, paradox, and impasse, Mary Margaret McCabe convincingly argues that Plato nowhere loses sight of the fundamental question 'What is it to be an individual?'. She shows how in dealing with this problem the Parmenidesmay properly be considered a unified whole, a harbinger of increasinglymetaphysicalprinciples and an important insight into the nature of theory. Many readers have come to recognize that the conversations and the layout of the themes in a Platonic dialogue can say as much as the actual arguments themselves. This is perhaps the main reason why Gregory Vlastos's famous 1954 article on the Parmenideshas become dated in some respects. Nevertheless that same article rightly continues to be the inspiration for some immensely valuable work on the dialogue. 'Likeness and Unlikeness in the Parmenides'by Malcolm Schofield builds on the insight regarding the importance of Platonic literary form, and the study of 132c-133a constitutes a most distinguished addition to the body of work evoked by Vlastos. Besides the notion that the medium is an important component of the message
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