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PLATO AND

ARISTOTLE:
THE GENESIS OF
WESTERN THOUGHT
COURSE GUIDE

Professor Aryeh Kosman
HAVERFORD COLLEGE

Plato and Aristotle:
The Genesis of Western Thought

Professor Aryeh Kosman
Haverford College

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Plato and Aristotle:
The Genesis of Western Thought
Professor Aryeh Kosman 

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. . .46 Lecture 12 The Nicomachean Ethics: Ethics and the Good Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Course Syllabus Plato and Aristotle: The Genesis of Western Thought About Your Professor . . . . . .52 Lecture 13 Plato and Aristotle: The Politics and the Poetics . . . . .29 Lecture 8 Aristotle: Patience with Complexity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 Lecture 3 The Charmides: The Virtue of Quiet Self-Control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 Lecture 4 The Republic: Justice and the Virtue of Justice . . . . . . . . . . .17 Lecture 5 The Republic: Justice and the Philosopher King . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36 Lecture 10 The Metaphysics: What Is Philosophy? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58 Lecture 14 Plato and Aristotle: A Final Review and Summation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Lecture 2 The Euthyphro: The Virtue of Holiness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33 Lecture 9 The Organon: Substance as the Primary Mode of Being . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21 Lecture 6 The Symposium: Is the Philosopher Capable of Love? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25 Lecture 7 The Phaedo: Death and the Philosopher . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40 Lecture 11 Biology and On the Soul: Life and Consciousness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Lecture 1 Plato (with Nods to Socrates) . . . . . . . . . . .64 Course Materials .4 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .68 3 . . . . . . . . .

He is also the father of three grown and successful sons. a classicist and translator. and the University of Pittsburgh. Professor Kosman is the recipient of several teaching awards. the University of California at Berkeley. Professor Kosman began his studies at the University of California at Berkeley and completed his doctoral work at Harvard University. the University of California at Los Angeles. His main areas of interest in the history of philosophy include metaphysics. medieval. and their young daughter Hannah. 4 . ethics. philosophical psychology.Photo courtesy of Aryeh Kosman About Your Professor Aryeh Kosman Aryeh Kosman is the John Whitehead Professor of Philosophy at Haverford College in Haverford. He joined the Haverford faculty in 1962 and has taught there since. with study between at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Pennsylvania.C. and early modern philosophy. He has been a fellow at Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies and at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. Professor Kosman has lectured and written extensively on ancient. Deborah Roberts. His teaching interests also include contemporary issues in aesthetics and the philosophy of literature. except during visiting appointments at Princeton University. He presently lives in Haverford with his wife. D. the University of Washington. and the philosophy of language and literature.

their unending desire to understand the world. political.” and Aristotle. By working through parts of their central texts and thoughts. 5 . characterized more by “this worldliness. the fruits of which have inspired and enriched the lives of inquisitive men and women to this very day. 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.com School of Athens Detail of Plato and Aristotle Stanza della Segnatura. and above all.” approached their exploration of the human condition in different ways.© Clipart. Plato and Aristotle offered theories and philosophies distinctive of their individual world views. and spiritual lives. Plato. Stanze di Raffaello. we will gain an understanding of Plato and Aristotle’s relevance in the past and today as well. it is their similarities that shine through: their commitment to reason as critical to moral. But in this examination of the minds and works of two of our first philosophers. sometimes remarked on for his “otherworldliness. their mutual love of wisdom.

1. in effect. No discussion of Plato and Aristotle would be complete without first mentioning Socrates. Socrates was. Aristotle was a student of Plato and eventually the tutor for Alexander the Great. This institution was devoted to research and instruction in philosophy and the sciences. Consider this . trial. Plato’s life became that of. C. In reading the texts we will strive to understand what the philosophers were attempting to articulate. Plato and Aristotle (with Nods to Socrates) A. 2. and (2) Be concerned with truth and historical accuracy. Socrates was an immensely important figure in Athenian life. though controversial. We will think through the philosophical texts of Plato and Aristotle and not simply make a list of their ideas. Plato was born in Athens in 428 BCE to a wealthy and aristocratic family. After Socrates’ death Plato left Athens to travel through Italy. and death had upon Plato that turned him toward a life of studying philosophy. He aspired to follow in his family’s footsteps and become an aristocratic politician. 6 . 1. the first accredited philosophy professor. such as. Why did Socrates feature so prominently in Plato’s writings? I. He was a close friend of Plato’s family. the founder of moral philosophy and a master of philosophical interrogation. As a teacher and thinker he had an enormous. In order to comprehend who we are as people we must begin to understand the philosophical giants who have shaped our thinking. Did Aristotle pay homage to Plato to the same degree that Plato paid to Socrates? 2. LECTURE ONE 2. He devoted his life to teaching and guiding the Academy. 1.” It was the influence that Socrates’ life. Socrates was condemned to death for “corrupting the youth. On his return he founded the Academy. . .Lecture 1: Plato (with Nods to Socrates) The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Xenophon’s Conversations of Socrates. but Socrates inspired him to follow a course of philosophy. “What is …?” What is justice? What is courage? B. Remember two primary concerns as you consider these works: (1) Be concerned always with philosophical relevance. influence. He characteristically asked questions of meaning. in essence.

In beginning our discussion. True wisdom is the recognition that one is not wise. 2. biology insisting instead that such a course of action would be wrong and politics. at the age of 17. D. Later in life. Summary: In order to comprehend who we are as human beings. Prior to agreed with several of Plato’s funtrial. Indeed. it is for the reader to determine. SOCRATES’ DEATH Socrates himself carried out the sentence of death when he drank the prescribed hemlock potion. it may help us to understand the work and thought of Plato and Socrates. including (among others) metaphysics. almost erotic play.1. the prosecutors fully damental ideas. A devotion to philosophy may take the form of joyful. epistemology. like those of the expected Socrates to leave the Ideal Forms. what may have been Plato’s actual views. It was a death that could 3. encourages us to consider two important points: 1. a suggesinterests and wrote on subjects tion that Socrates rejected. all of his words and ideas are expressed through the characters he creates in these works. and as this character. he founded his own school in Athens called the Lyceum. his friends offered an opportunity for him to ly prolific. the word philosophy means love of wisdom. Plato may have been an early philosopher. at difand would deny respect for due ferent times. Dialogue is an instrument in Plato’s hands. where he remained for approximately twenty years. His actual voice never appears directly in these dialogues. Plato wrote 26 dramatic texts—his rather than addressing the Dialogues—that have become the issues at hand.jurisdiction. 2. An Introduction to Plato’s Work defending himself through a narration of the facts of his life A. ethics. He lost his father at an early age and was brought. touch on all these subjects. In his dialogues Socrates “plays” the main character. At the trial itself. tempt for the process by only II. Although a student of Plato. (see sidebar on page 8). Both had a wide range of escape to Thessaly. Plato’s Dialogues are written in a dracircumstances surrounding matic or poetic style that is mimetic the event. as a suicide considering the B. As with Shakespeare. but he was not a primitive philosopher. he diswell have been avoided. 7 . His death has foundations of the history of sometimes been characterized Western philosophy. within the context of an overall understanding of the work and of the characters. Plato and Aristotle were extraordinari. Socrates showed his conwill look first at the works of Plato. we process of the law. Our lectures will. to Plato’s Academy.

Albany. New York: Penguin. 2000. What is the point of the proposition that “true wisdom” is the recognition that one is not wise? Suggested Reading Xenophon. Would Plato’s writing be as rich if he used his own voice instead of that of Socrates? 5.. Smith. Oxford: Oxford University Press.. 1996. FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING Questions 1. NY: State University of New York Press. 1990. Thomas C. 8 . is it possible to assume that Plato intended the “character” of Socrates to be his spokesperson? 4. and Nicholas D. How is reading Plato always an interpretive endeavor? 2. Conversations of Socrates. Richard. Plato’s Socrates. Other Books of Interest Bodeus. Aristotle and the Theology of the Living Immortals. LECTURE ONE Brickhouse. Inc. For what reasons is reading Plato a difficult and complex task? 3. As Socrates plays such a vital character in the Dialogues.

questions Euthyphro’s suggestions and cross-examines his claims to knowledge. So none works in the sense of withstanding the questions that Socrates poses. they end with no apparent solution to the question raised. . What does “Euthyphro” mean in Greek? 2. on the other hand. It’s that knowledge that Socrates. Socrates. We might wonder how Socrates can criticize Euthyphro’s suggested definitions if he doesn’t already know the nature of piety. Consider this .E. Volume 1: Euthyphro. Crito. Apology. Gorgias.Lecture 2: The Euthyphro: The Virtue of Holiness The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Plato’s The Dialogues of Plato. that is.” Like all the dialogues it is presented as a dramatic scene with characters. In this case the characters represented are Socrates and Euthyphro. II. Some Features of the Euthyphro Characteristic of Early Platonic Dialogue A. himself on trial for being unholy. that is. B. None of his definitions seem satisfying to Socrates. The dialogue takes place on the steps of the courthouse where Socrates is about to be tried. D. This suggests that they’re not looking for definition in an ordinary sense of the 9 . asks Euthyphro to teach him (us) about. an understanding of what the gods would require of someone in his position. The Euthyphro is an early dialogue of Plato’s that concerns itself with the virtue of “holiness. Euthyphro is present at the court to prosecute his father. B. The conversations in these dialogues ends aporetically. C. The Euthyphro portrays Socrates and Euthyphro attempting to understand the nature of piety or holiness. C. Why does Socrates object to Euthyphro’s accounts of holiness? I. The conversation between Socrates and Euthyphro occurs because Euthyphro claims to have an expert knowledge concerning piety. The dialogue is devoted to the search for the definition or meaning of a concept or entity such as holiness or piety. III. Some Further Thoughts About These Features A. . who he believes is responsible for the death of one of his laborers. The Subject Matter of the Euthyphro A. Allen). Euthyphro offers a series of definitions designed to articulate the definition. Meno. Menexenus (translated by R. 1.

To ask after the form is to try to narrow the being to those features that capture the specific nature in question. B. important in both Plato and Aristotle. C. that’s the right one? These are some of the questions that lie behind the argument of the dialogue. or of love and rhetoric (Phaedrus). particularly those that scholars think were composed early in his career. 10 . but for some deeper understanding of a concept that they recognize. We might say that they’re looking for the form of the holy. is a rich but complex and problematic notion in Plato’s writing. as he says). therefore.word. This kind of series of definitions is offered in many of Plato’s early and middle dialogues. b. the dialogue called the Laches is about courage. Or we could say that it gives too much. and we can’t tell which of its many features count as determining its essential nature. and if so how. Socrates objects to Euthyphro’s first definition because it gives an example or instance of holiness rather than a definition. The Argument of the Euthyphro A. what is right to say to and do for the gods. they’re not looking for what could be found in a dictionary. Euthyphro offers several definitions of holiness. LECTURE TWO a. Then he says that it is what is pleasing to the gods. and the Republic is about justice. This notion of form. In this dialogue the virtue in question is that of holiness. an example is ontologically overloaded. the Charmides about temperance. Socrates presents problems with Euthyphro’s accounts of holiness. B. 1. An example doesn’t tell us enough. In the course of the dialogue. Other early dialogues consider the nature of friendship (Lysis). represent Socrates in search of the definition and understanding of a particular virtue. of virtue in general (Meno). and then that it is what all the gods love. the X-ness itself by virtue of which the X’s are all said to be X. 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. At first he says that holy is what he’s now doing (prosecuting the wrongdoer. that is. 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. The form is that by virtue of which the things that are said to be holy are holy. 2. because it doesn’t tell us which features constitute the essence in question. it is holiness itself. VIRTUES Many of Plato’s dialogues. 1. or courage (Laches). IV. A central question about how to read Plato is the question of whether any or all of these definitions are helpful. The form is thus the essential nature of some collection of things.

2. This is a less obvious distinction in English than in Greek. his carrying the baguette is an action. We might think about this more generally: what’s wrong with a definition in a particular case may not be about the definition itself. (That’s like saying Miriam is an employee because she’s employed. think of the difference between Miriam being an employee and Miriam being employed. to understand it. one of which is true and one of which is false. each of which could be expressed by two sentences.) SENTENCE 2A: TRUE: Something gets approved because it’s holy. Don’t confuse passion in this technical sense with the passion that is John’s love! c. then Miriam being loved by John is a passion in this technical sense. 11 . Here’s the argument that Socrates gives. it might be very helpful as a forceful illustration of the nature being defined. ACTIONS AND PASSIONS An interesting philosophical distinction helps in understanding this argument. and the baguette’s being carried by him is a passion.) SENTENCE 1B: FALSE: Something gets approved because it is being approved. SENTENCE 2B: FALSE: Something is holy because it gets approved. a. Socrates then establishes two relationships. He first introduces a distinction between the state of being carried and the activity of being carried. but they are conceptually distinct. We can express this as the distinction between being carried and getting carried. SENTENCE 1A: TRUE: Something is being approved because it gets approved. If John carries a baguette. which is the passive correlate of the action of carrying.c. The activity of being carried is the passion of being carried. but with our inability to read it properly. b. But consider when an example might be useful: if someone knows how to read an example. The fact that 2A is true and 2B is false is the fact that Euthyphro agrees to at the beginning of the discussion. The action and the passion are one and the same thing. To further confuse matters. 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. (That would be like saying Miriam is employed because she’s an employee. though his loving her is an action. if John loves Miriam. the gods approve of the holy because it’s holy.

then the two true statements would turn out to be false. but only if we are able to understand it for what it is. 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. B. It’s not because the Gods love the holy that it’s holy. What has emerged from this encounter? Consider this possibility: the right account emerges. Socrates shows that if it were the case that being approved by the gods were the same thing as being holy. Perhaps. We should search for a clearer and more definite understanding of the concept in question. Conclusions from the Euthyphro A. Perhaps Plato has offered us the true account of holiness. e. we should be looking for more than a definition. to read the account properly. V. This is what Plato shows us needs to be thought about. Euthyphro is unable to articulate differences between essential natures. We’ll talk about this in the next lecture. Socrates is always looking for the essential nature of a concept—Plato later calls this the form of something. However. f. 12 .d. but not in the form of any one single definition. Summary: LECTURE TWO The Socratic method presented in the Dialogues is simply to question and examine someone’s understanding of an idea. however. it’s the other way around—they love the holy because it’s holy. Central to this argument is the claim that the gods approve of the holy because it’s holy. and the two false statements would turn out to be true. an understanding has emerged from the dialogue.

At the end of the dialogue. Menexenus. 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.E. FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING Questions 1. Socrates and Euthyphro have not managed to agree on a proper definition of piety. R. What are the ways in which a dialogue could help us understand the meaning or force of a concept? Suggested Reading Plato. Apology. Trans. Meno. if anything. Is the dialogue in this respect a failure. New Haven: Yale University Press. or do you think that something positive has emerged. 1989. or does the umpire call him out because he’s out? What issues do you think depend on how we answer this question. and if so. The Dialogues of Plato. 13 . Gorgias. what? 5. Well. and how could we go about deciding it? 4. Crito. Allen. Volume 1: Euthyphro. what do you think? Is a runner out because the umpire calls him out. 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. What.

of courage (Laches). the Charmides. 14 VIRTUES As the Euthyphro is about holiness. Forms explain the being of the things that they are the forms of. It’s not immediately clear what this virtue. so any piece of language expresses the definition of the form. Beautiful things are beautiful by virtue of the form of beauty. but emerge from the being of A. II. The form of X. but can’t fully capture it. in other words. the Charmides is about a virtue called in Greek sophrosyne: temperance or selfcontrol. The Subject Matter of the Charmides A. 1. Consider this . Other early dialogues. These four “cardinal virtues” are wisdom.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. understanding emerges not from a privileged definition. In this lecture. are two of the so-called “cardinal virtues” introduced by Plato in the Republic. but from a body of discourse that enables us to read or know our way around a concept. Further Thoughts on the Nature of Platonic Forms and Their Understanding A. temperance. In the last lecture. and so of being X. According to the Charmides. what is the definition of temperance? 2. as we noted in the previous lecture. or of love and rhetoric (Phaedrus). is about justice. is the principle of the things that are X being X. What are the four cardinal virtues? I. but it’s difficult to see what they all have in common. and justice.” On this model. They are principles of integrity and unity of things that are X. which we’ll discuss in this and succeeding lectures. is. 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. Just as any particular X expresses its form but doesn’t fully capture it. . LECTURE THREE B. . courage. we’ll see this same model applied to Plato’s dialogue. . temperance and justice. Forms are transcendent. consider the nature of friendship (Lysis). we suggested thinking of a dialogue as offering a model of understanding that we might think of as “dialectic. several definitions are offered. and the Republic. Of these. temperance. Dialectic (dialogue) teaches us to learn to read the accounts. of virtue in general (Meno). which we’ll discuss in the next lecture.

SOPHROSYNE In the course of the dialogue. the doing of good things (163e). but Plato takes it to be important that we maintain that ideal for the successful conduct of our moral and intellectual lives. and a science that is of itself and other sciences (168a). We encounter characters who have the right thing to say but don’t say it properly. B. Temperance is thus self-mastery of a quiet and tranquil mode. Dialogues often show us people who can articulate accounts that express but without understanding why they do. Understanding this fact helps us to appreciate the dialogue in its larger project of understanding the general nature of sophrosyne. although not capturing the nature of temperance or selfcontrol. The understanding that we do receive is indeed ideal. The First Definition of Temperance or Self-control Given in the Charmides A. In one sense Socrates’ argument is a good one. they are not fully in command of the wisdom they are able to speak. is said successively to be a kind of quietness (159b). C. it is the kind of self-control that involves the subject’s effortless and tranquil performance of what she truly wants to do. or don’t understand what they’re saying. This understanding allows us to tell a story about the kind of temperance or self-control that Plato wants his readers to think of. or temperance. reveals something about the nature of the virtue once we learn to read it. III. sophrosyne. but masters it gently and with ease.” Socrates offers a counter argument to show that is not an adequate definition. we have to understand “quietness” as involving calm tranquility. minding one’s own business or doing the thing that is one’s own (161b). D. and that temperance or self-control is a “kind of quietness. a science of self (165c). It is the virtue of a person who is harmonious and at peace with himself. Sophrosyne is that kind of control focused on the self. a form of modesty (160e).C. Charmides says that being temperate is doing everything in an orderly and quiet way. 15 . 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. Think of them as exercises in the redemptive appropriation of a common wisdom. Think of control that is effortless and does not force what it controls. But for it to work. Summary: The first definition.

1981. Rosamond Kent. 1966. 4. Can you think of other skills or arts or crafts that exemplify that distinction. How do you think Plato understands the relationship between self-knowledge and self-control? 3. NY: Cornell University Press. Other Books of Interest Friedländer. OH: Ohio State University Press. FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING Questions 1. Hackett Publishing Co. Plato: the Dialogues. What do you think might be the relationship between any two other features of the virtue they’re talking about? Think. and gave one example from my own life. Charmides. First Period. New York: Pantheon Books. In the lecture. or call it into question? 6. Paul.. Helen. Sophrosyne: Self-Knowledge and Self-Restraint in Greek Literature. Plato’s Laches and Charmides. What English word do you think best captures the virtue or state of character that Socrates. Drew A. 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. 16 . of what might be the relationship between modesty and quietness. 1992. LECTURE THREE North. Hyland. 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. 1964. I spoke of the difference between intermediate or higher forms of mastery or control in an art or craft. Columbus. Chapter 4. The Virtue of Philosophy: An Interpretation of Plato’s Charmides. for example. Ithaca. and Critias are talking about? 2.

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.

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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.

LECTURE FOUR

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
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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

and what virtue for each function would be necessary? 2. Plato: The Dialogues. If a group of people were to rob a bank. 2nd ed. Allan Bloom. Socrates Cafe: A Fresh Taste of Philosophy. How can the Universe as a whole be applied to Socrates’ idea of justice and virtue? 3.W. how is one to discern the job best suited for him or herself? 5. IN: Hackett Publishing Company. LECTURE FOUR Phillips. Second and Third Period. C. 1969. Plato. Norton & Co. Paul.D. 2004. In the Republic. what he or she is best suited to? Suggested Reading Plato. Republic of Plato. Reeve. 20 . 3rd rev. 2002. New York: W. Christopher. FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING Questions 1.C. Indianapolis. or not to do. New York: Pantheon Books. It is commonly said that justice is the goal of the legal system. 1991. Republic. what separate functions would be required. New York: Basic Books. How does that compare to the concept of justice that Plato put forth? 4. Trans.. Trans. Other Books of Interest Friedländler. ed. How does the current system promote or inhibit a person to do.

however. 2. as we saw. Reeve). they are interested in behaving justly. In fact we can hear this in what Socrates says: B. answers in terms of a harmony of the soul.” How does this answer address the question of Glaucon and Adeimantus? 1.D. in all of these he believes 21 . 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. . in just conduct. 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. It does so if there is. “When he does anything. . there must be a causal relationship between conduct and character. taking care of his body. When they ask this question. Glaucon and Adiemantus. The harmony of the soul (or “proper character”) that Socrates identifies as justice. 1. b. Socrates’ Argument Regarding Justice A. How does Plato understand the relationship between the world of being and the world of appearance? I. as Socrates argues. whether acquiring wealth. preferably in both directions.C. What’s the proper relationship between character and the conduct that emanates from character? 3. ask Socrates to convince them that it is worth their while to be just by showing them that justice is something of intrinsic worth. Justice in the Republic is. What are we to make of this shift? Consider this . Socrates. And for the argument to work. of a just state of character. The modes of proper conduct in society that Glaucon and Adeimantus are referring to when they speak of justice. 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. a virtue both of individuals and of political societies. 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. Will a person be happy merely by virtue of acting justly? 2.Lecture 5: The Republic: Justice and the Philosopher King The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Plato’s Republic (translated by C. engaging in politics or private contract. a connection between: a.

that is. the top intelligible section is similarly divided. IV. This is what we earlier called forms. The bottom visible section is thus divided into images and the original things of which they are the images. Glaucon and Adiemantus are now led to ask how this ideal city can be brought about. The philosopher is in love with the forms. III.” C. II. he says. with the intelligible principles of those things being what they are.” 1. Socrates offers a visual model by way of explanation. Socrates answers: “Until philosophers rule as kings. and unhealthy things produce disease. nor I think will the human race. 22 . The bottom section is the visible. The Relationship of Being to Appearance A. The philosopher. the world of appearance. 2. LECTURE FIVE B. just action produces justice in the soul. or those who are now called kings and leading men genuinely and adequately philosophize. Each two sections of those lines are themselves divided in the same ratio. But Beauty itself. the many holy things. and unjust action produces injustice in the soul.” C. while the many natures who at present pursue either one exclusively are forcibly prevented from doing so. 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. and the Good itself and all such things we set down as a single form for each. like a line divided into two unequal sections. In order to understand what Socrates means by this claim. A philosopher is someone whose eye is turned toward being. for example. as someone who is in love with being itself.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. 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. The notion of being here is the notion of the essential nature of things that we encountered earlier: not. we will need to think what he understands a philosopher to be. 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. but their being holy. And in the same way. It is. The Philosopher King A. B. until political power and philosophy entirely coincide. Healthy things produce health. What Is a Philosopher? A. cities will have no rest from evils. the top section is the intelligible. is in love not simply with the several beings of this world. believing that there is but one and calling it the being of each thing.

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. is nourished and is relieved from the pains of giving birth. all equal things are equally equal. justice. D. by their essential difference from one another. but will love being and what is. he knows. Summary: Plato represents the allegiance of particular things to their forms as a mode of justice. 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. This justice is determined by an equality of individuals under the forms. 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. The Philosopher is someone who is in love with what is. We cannot understand what these images are unless and until we understand the “original” of the image. Think about the bottom section. though. 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.” 23 . In our perceptual dealings with the world we are constantly given images of things: the look of things from a particular point of view. are defined in their being. or the way an object appears to us from some perspective. because of its kinship with it. Insofar as it’s right for things to act out their nature.C. To recognize the look of a chair requires that we understand it to be the look of a chair. for example. Socrates expresses the relationship between the philosopher. Similarly. E. The forms themselves. and once getting near what really is and having intercourse with it. 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). and this involves seeing it in relation to the other appearances of the chair. truly lives. and having begotten understanding and truth. Then such a person will not have any part in the love of falsehood.

 FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING Questions 1.D. Would people naturally act justly if their actions were completely anonymous? 4. 2004. 24 .C. Trans. Malcolm. 2003. ed. 3rd rev. Saving the City: Philosopher-Kings and Other Classical Paradigms. What is the process necessary for one to see the forms? Suggested Reading Plato. How is Justice understood as a virtue of individual organization and as a social and political virtue? 2. Is there a difference between social well being and individual well being? 3. Indianapolis. 1999. C. Reeve. Desmond Lee. New York: Penguin. Trans. IN: Hackett Publishing Company. Republic. New York: Routledge. Republic. Other Books of Interest Plato. LECTURE FIVE Schofield.

unlike other dialogues. Remember that the Greek translation of “Symposium” is “Drinking Party. Eros is the oldest and most honorable of the gods. love is the drive to reestablish the broken and original nature of ourselves that the jealous gods have taken from us. music. Aristophanes’ Myth About Love: An Important Midpoint in the Conversation A. each of whom praise love in a different voice and in a different way. . Plato masterfully creates a set of characters. He is the god of skills that depend on the understanding of the attraction of things to one another. He is spoken of in relation to Aphrodite. Some Standard Mythological Depictions of Eros in the Early Speeches A. is primarily a series of speeches. it is widely thought to be his finest and most sophisticated literary work. C. II. C. . B. Union with our original other half is what has the potential to bring us the greatest happiness in life. as in the last lecture. arts like medicine. 1. 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. and is surely one of his most influential dialogues. the God of Love. They propose to spend the evening speaking in praise of the God Eros. They were round with four hands and four feet.Lecture 6: The Symposium: Is the Philosopher Capable of Love? The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Plato’s Symposium (translated by Christopher Gill). The Symposium.” What significance does this have? 2. D. and astronomy. 25 . a head with two faces. pointing in opposite directions. Originally human beings were “double” their present appearance. The Symposium is perhaps the most elegant of Plato’s dialogues. Consider this . How might we think. Within this myth. 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. of appearance as in love with being? I. B. The result of this having been cut in half has forced humans to continually search to reconnect with their other half. He is presented as a god of great good to humankind. and double genitals.

And it is therefore that beautiful and good object love is the love of which is the appropriate object of praise. But love is not simply the longing for absolute beauty. when we love. Aristophanes presents an extraordinary view of love. The beauty of something is the beauty a thing has in so far as it is what it is. both rhetorical and philosophical. just. he questions Agathon. There is no such thing as simply loving. Socrates suggests that love is not a god but rather a daimon. Diotima’s Mysteries of Love LECTURE SIX A. Love is rather of the beautiful and good. Socrates makes explicit two things about love. nor is it the proper object of praise. and wise. Love is therefore not something beautiful and good. poised. Socrates has learned this from a description of love given by a priestess named Diotima. between fullness and lack. for both leading us in this life back to our own nature and giving us high hopes for the future. The incompleteness of love: Love is always separated from its object. for he promises that if we are pious. young. . 1. To talk about the love of beauty is always to talk 26 .D. B. Aristophanes says (193c): “We must praise the god Love . brave. The intentional character of love: Love is always of some object or another. The object that defines and determines love is always something that love lacks. Socrates first changes the tone of the conversation by switching from set speech to a dialectical. Socrates Questions Agathon A. V. for example. make us happy and blessed. 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). to procreate in beauty. love is being lavishly praised as a good and beautiful God. beautiful. She teaches him that love is of the good and therefore cannot be the good. it is the longing to bring forth in beauty.” E. as though between being and non-being. and it is one that figures later in Socrates’ account. IV. III. In the speech given by Agathon. In his questioning of Agathon. B. F. in the nature of the discourse. Eros is painted as temperate. Beauty is connected with being. It is against this background that Socrates’ entry into the conversation represents a fundamental shift. Diotima presents a picture of love born of poverty and need. A Different Idea of Love in Socrates’ Speech A. we love something. a kind of divine being that is intermediate. he will restore us to our original state and heal us. 2. But as in all the early depictions. . because love looks toward that which it does not have and which it is in love with. and love is determined always by the fact that it is the love of this or that. question and answer form of discussion.

VII. Love is finally recognized as a virtue and not merely a passion. The Archaeology and Theology of Love A. He is the embodiment of self-love gone wrong. D. Love is coming to recognize the beauty of another person. Alcibiades. To love something for its beauty is to love something for itself. the intelligible world. and calling them to that beauty. In the final analysis. VI. as we will see in our next lecture. C. cosmically. Summary: Plato shows us that to love the world allows us to engage in an authentic and true love of individuals. The philosopher recognizes the world as its own appearance. a picture of the indulgence to the fair self. Remember that the majority of people we love (our parents. we thus come to understand that love is framed by death. Love therefore becomes the procreation of virtue in beauty. our children. It is an ascent into our world seen aright and thus seen as beautiful. of how that person might be what they really are. We are fated to love them and must learn therefore to love them. love is that principle that draws the world toward itself. Alcibiades The last moment of the dialogue concerns the beautiful young man. in the mysteries of love. however. C. 27 . so our love is a special instance of the universal. we constantly lose what we attain and must continually seek to replace our objects of love. It is the creative recognition of what another might be. recognized for what it is and consequently to be loved.about love in relationship to what the object is. ourselves) are not people we choose to love. And in loving people we can help them to love themselves. Love is the ladder to the state in which Eros is transcended in the mode of acceptance. B. This Platonic ascent. is capable of loving it and thus calls it to itself. Finally. is an ascent into the world of forms. The philosophical nature begins with the love of what is. must learn to see and recognize their beauty. erotic striving of the universe for itself. An authentic personal love is simply a particular special interest of the philosophical love the philosopher has of the world in its true being. The dialectic of philosophy makes being allow for the principle of the world to shine through its appearances.

What does unconditional love mean in the light of the Symposium? 2. Other Books of Interest LECTURE SIX Pressfield. Steven. How do we love someone for themselves? 3. How can we develop the virtue of love? Suggested Reading Plato. Trans. 2001. 2003. 28 . New York: Penguin. New York: Random House. Tides of War: A Novel of Alcibiades and the Peloponnesian War. Christopher Gill. What is the discipline by which we might learn to love one another? 4. FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING Questions 1. Symposium.

Socrates is in a sense saving himself. Consider this . . 29 . In saving these youth. C. There is an overriding sadness to the dialogue coupled with a fear of death that makes this dialogue a moving and dramatic text. What role does Socrates play as a spokesperson of Plato’s own views? 3.” 2. He argues that philosophers should embrace and welcome death. How does Socrates do this? 1. The dialogue is Plato’s mimetic narration of the last moments in the life of the dearly beloved character and person of Socrates. from which the youth must be saved. In an analogy to Theseus and the saving of the Athenian youth. he is more clearly than ever represented as an exemplar of the philosophical life.Lecture 7: The Phaedo: Death and the Philosopher The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Plato’s Phaedo (translated by David Gallop). If this is true and they’ve actually been looking forward to death for all their lives. 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. 1. B. Socrates is presented in the Phaedo in a special light. it would of course be absurd to be troubled when the thing comes for which they have so long been preparing and looking forward. Here. Death and the Philosopher A. he is more than simply a source of Platonic opinion. Where would Plato stand on the question of whether animals have souls? I. “Ordinary people seem not to realize that those who really apply themselves in the right way to philosophy. Socrates and the Phaedo A. Is Socrates’ portrayal in the dialogues an accurate picture of the historical person Socrates? 2. are directly and of their own accord preparing themselves for dying and death. . He offers a deeper understanding of something people believe about death and philosophy but don’t fully understand. The conversation turns to the topic of death and more specifically to the soul and whether it may be immortal. II. 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.

To understand the soul to be immortal is to understand the soul to be what it is—The Principle of Life. since I believe that I should find there no less than here. to show you that it is natural for me to leave you and my earthly rulers without any feeling of grief or bitterness. In 69e Socrates said: “This is the defense of which I offer you Simmias and Cebes. IV. It is the explanatory principle (or The Form) by virtue of which things that are alive are alive. B. by denying the body. Socrates presents a therapeutic understanding of dying as something to help people face death courageously and correctly. D. 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. Philosophical discourse is presented as a weaving of a magical spell that can be used to cure people of their fear of death. Socrates asks of his students this very point. He doesn’t define himself with reference to the body but rather to the soul.What follows from this is that the Soul is simply the principle of life. He says that to flee from death or to have fantasies of immortality as a conquering of 30 . The philosopher is someone who is detached in regard to bodily pleasures and desires. III.” C. good rulers and good friends. Plato’s view is that to live this way is to live philosophically. Immortality of the Soul A. The philosopher. is not an ascetic. C. 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. D. however. This is identified by Socrates as a cathartic detachment and purification. It is the philosopher’s primary purpose to continually purify himself by separating the soul as much as possible from the body. True philosophers make dying their profession. Living in respect to the Soul is living in such a way that one is fully alive. B. The Phaedo as a Conversation About How to Live A. To understand Immortality as presented in the Phaedo is to understand the concept of living fully in the moment. If the soul is described as the principle of life. for that would mean defining oneself in terms of the body. C. The sense in which the soul is immortal is a sense in which it constitutes in itself the very principle of life. that in order to live fully one must live philosophically and it is his final request of them. Philosophers practice dying by practicing a “mock” separation of soul from body. If philosophers are continually preparing themselves for death then it can’t be the case that they will be unhappy when death actually arrives. It means living each moment to its fullest. LECTURE SEVEN B. or to be fully alive. so that death cannot take away from life. 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.

seen as it is in the light of being and intelligibility.death is actually to flee into its arms. At the end of the enlightenment.” 31 .” “Be of good cheer and say that you are burying my body only. Socrates understands that his death cannot undo the life that he has lived. 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. and in the world seen clearly. When we refuse to live through our lives.” The importance of Socrates is his exemplary life that comes shining through in the Phaedo. 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. 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. when the philosopher turns his eyes upon the principles of the forms. Summary: “Such was the end of our comrade who was. we may fairly say of all those we knew in our time. the philosopher finds himself in the world. the bravest and the wisest and the most just of human beings. It is a portrait not just of someone who has lived well but also of one who has died well. 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.

David Gallop. Other Books of Interest LECTURE SEVEN Easterling. P. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1999. If “to flee from death is to flee into its arms. Phaedo. New ed.E. FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING Questions 1. 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. The Cambridge Companion to Greek Tragedy. What permits a text to become canonical? 3. What makes Plato’s dialogues so powerful? 2. 32 . 1997. Trans. and are there any good examples? Suggested Reading Plato.” how would one do this in contemporary society. What has allowed Platonism to exist? 4. New York: Oxford University Press.

The body of Aristotle’s work is not as polished as the dialogues of Plato. he was introduced to Western Europe through the science and philosophy of Muslim civilization. philosophical psychology. Reading Aristotle is different from reading Plato. After this he served as the tutor to the son of the King of Macedon. Reading Aristotle A. of reading Aristotle are enormous. literature. where he founded his own school called the Lyceum. He was insatiably curious—from the intricacies of chicken embryology to the study of being. He was an immensely prolific writer and thinker who worked in such diverse areas as logic. 2. his writings are engaging and rewarding.Lecture 8: Aristotle: Patience with Complexity The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Aristotle’s The Basic Works of Aristotle (edited by Richard McKeon). however. 3. Aristotle was also a biologist of great subtlety and scope. He then went to the Island of Lesbos. unlike Plato. and literature. . 1. Aristotle. elliptical. Today he is studied not just by scholars in classics and philosophy but also by thinkers in theology. political theory. lacks literary irony or humor and this can make much of his work seem dry. His texts are dense. physics. B. D. where he studied under Plato at the Academy. Here he taught and studied for the next fifteen years. Following this he returned to Athens. until Plato’s death in 347 BCE. C. where he studied biology. his writing reads more like notes for lectures. As a teenager he moved to Athens. Aristotle was born in Macedonia in Northern Greece to a moderately prosperous family. It is revealing to note that Aristotle is studied throughout the world. ethics. 33 . and often quite difficult to understand. In this lecture we discuss the basics of studying Aristotle’s works. . What impact did Aristotle’s travels have on his writing? 2. metaphysics. and psychology. who grew up to become Alexander the Great. and politics. history of science. In all of these. Almost a quarter of his surviving texts are devoted to his research and findings in the biological sciences. He stayed there for twenty years. How did his “attention to detail” help Aristotle’s investigations? I. Consider this . The rewards. 1. He also wrote about chemistry.

If we think of philosophy as an enterprise of self-understanding. Think of Aristotle in relation to John Keats’ notion of “Negative Capability” with certain changes. capable of being in uncertainties. constitutes philosophy in one of its deepest forms. must be seen as a virtue. and struggling with his ideas. mysteries. 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. Aristotle didn’t invent these features of our world. where action and conviction and closure are not necessarily the primary goal. B. Reading Aristotle. It is as though he were the discoverer of the conceptual shape of our world. Aristotle can be characterized as a person. regardless of the difficulty of reaching a solution. We owe to him. Aristotle remains important today. substance. and doubts without reaching after closure and the cessation of reason. such notions as matter. Recognizing his patience will help us to understand the “rambling” nature of some of Aristotle’s thought. 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. “The Master of Those Who Know” A. it is equally important to know when closure would be premature and when thought must continue.II. of how we come to fashion our lives and our world. Dante was to describe Aristotle as “The Master of Those Who Know. and this is something that we need to recognize and emulate if we are to read Aristotle with understanding. it is important to understand how we have arrived at this conception. 34 . Ultimately this recognition of Aristotle’s insistence on staying with a problem. but he was a master in bringing to light those things that we already knew but didn’t see. B. Aristotle is a reminder that there are some disciplines of thought. Aristotle exhibits an unwavering patience for staying with the complexity of intellectual problems. for example. for to understand how we conceive our world today. C. Of course. and philosophy may be among them. Many of the conceptual terms that we take to be embedded in the structure of our thinking were first Aristotle’s. III. Aristotle established the very ways that we have of thinking of things.” and that is an accurate characterization. then the understanding of philosophy’s history is important to this very enterprise. Aristotle’s Patience A. form. and essence. Summary: LECTURE EIGHT Having shaped fundamentally the way we conceive the world in which we live. In addition.

New York: Simon & Schuster. Ed. Aristotle for Everybody: Difficult Thought Made Easy. Ross. Aristotle. Think of how you understand these basic notions that have entered our conceptual vocabulary through Aristotle: matter. 6th ed. 1997. Sir David. How do you think these conceptual terms are related to one another? 3. The Basic Works of Aristotle. 35 . 2. New York: Random House. form. essence. New York: Routledge. Ackrill.L. FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING Questions 1. What major difference is there between the writings of Aristotle and Plato? Suggested Reading Aristotle. substance. 2001. Mortimer J. 1995. and J. Other Books of Interest Adler. Richard McKeon.

meaning statement. These works represent instruments for a number of theoretical activities Aristotle wants his readers to think about. 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. may be looked at in a general sense as Aristotle’s logical theory. The Prior Analytics concerns the modes of inference and reasoning that are required for such understanding to be worked out. LECTURE NINE 2. C.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). . 1. The word for syllogism comes from the Greek logos. Aristotle above all presents a theory of the syllogism. Consider this . collectively known as the Organon (instrument or tool). A syllogism brings together two statements in order to infer a third. some things being taken to be true. Aristotle’s works. II. But of course these methodologies or tools of thought are not necessary in all the practical aims of one’s life. other things are thought to follow from those things being true. 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. a syllogism is a piece of reasoning in which. The Prior Analytics and the Syllogism A. At its simplest. 1. B. The Posterior Analytics discusses the formal representation of scientific understanding. . The two works have somewhat different purposes: A. In this work. B. and so it follows that C is the case. A is the case and B is the case. Do you have to be a master of physics before you can ride a bicycle? 2. The Analytics There are two books that make up the Analytics: The Earlier or Prior Analytics and the Later or Posterior Analytics. What does it take for two sentences together to allow the inference of a third? What allows us to infer? I. Logic in this sense is a version of a theory of thought. 36 .

The ability to grasp these modes of understanding is made possible by our possession of mind or intellect. Scientific understanding is occasioned by causal explanation of which a paradigm form is a certain kind of syllogism. 2. 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. In Aristotle’s view these elements are either one of two things: 1. Aristotle’s discussion in On Interpretation presents a logical grammar of thought. Within each of these are two important elements: a. Predication can involve both the specific and the general. is the capacity to see the intelligibility and coherence of the world and therefore to explain the world scientifically. The subject about which something is being said. as the faculty by which we come to understand principles of explanation. 1. subjects. D. in other words. The Prior Analytics. 3. C. that is. understanding of phenomena in the world. and predicates for them to allow for valid syllogisms from which we can infer other truths? E. that is. B. that is. 2. On Interpretation A. what is affirmed or denied of the subject. affirmed or denied. B. In this book Aristotle is concerned with demonstration. when we know what’s responsible for it being the case. is concerned with the patterns of inferential reasoning. b. A denial of what is the case: Porpoises are not fish denies being a fish of porpoises. Scientific understanding then is an explanatory art and is brought about by the very phenomenon of explanation itself. The predicate that is said of the subject. denials. Dobbin is a horse and horses are mammals. so Dobbin is a mammal. The Posterior Analytics A. Mind. What do assertions have to look like for an inference to follow? What must be the “shape” among affirmations. An affirmation of what is the case: Dogs are mammals affirms being a mammal of dogs. The short book called On Interpretation concerns itself with the elements that go into making up this syllogistic reasoning. that is. A demonstration is something that gives us scientific understanding. C.III. Aristotle argues that we take ourselves to understand something when we know its cause. Consider which one of these sets of assertions gives a true syllogism. IV. 37 . so Dobbin is not a mammal. He sees all thought and discourse as exhibiting that structure of subject and predicate. Dobbin is not a horse and horses are mammals.

Source: Stanford University Encyclopedia of Philosophy 38 . For the very word category enters our language because of the title of this book. and it is able to constitute this ultimate subject because it has the kind of determinate essential nature that it has. is relevant to our idea of Aristotle as an inventor or author of the basic features of our conceptual schemes. then. The Categories A. logic was an instrument. Aristotle first developed the syllogism. adherents of Aristotelian logic and those of the new mathematical concepts were at odds and considered their respective efforts incompatible. having an essential nature and the consequent primacy of substance as the basic category of being and predication here come together. They are the different modes of what we say about some subject when we assert what is the case. in other words. His purpose was to establish the conditions under which a deductive inference is valid or invalid. Aristotle goes on to claim that the primary mode of being is substance. The word kategorein in Greek means to predicate. 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. Substance is able to take on different attributes while remaining one and the same individual. the categories can be seen as different modes of being. It is central precisely because it constitutes the ultimate subject of predication. LECTURE NINE In modern times. Aristotle’s book. the Categories. The “categories” are kinds (and hence categories) of predication. Subsequently. More recently. It can. there has been a recognition that there are a number of similarities of approach and interest between Aristotle and modern logicians. ARISTOTELIAN LOGIC The history of logic in Western philosophical thought began with Aristotle. while remaining exactly what it is. Because substances are precisely what they are.” by which mankind might be enabled to come to know anything. Immanuel Kant thought that Aristotle had discovered everything there was to know about logic. B. they are capable of constituting the ultimate subjects of predication.V. Aristotle sought a coherent common methodology that would serve any scientific or discursive discipline. the core logical argument form consisting of two premises and a conclusion. “the organon. In addition. 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. Summary: Substance is an important category in Aristotle’s thinking. be open to further incidental determination. Being a subject. A valid conclusion can only come from premises that are logically connected to one another. Thus.

and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Dark Ages. 1975. J. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Aristotle: Categories and De Interpretatione. Aristotle’s Children: How Christians. 39 . 2001. New York: Oxford University Press. Trans. Rubenstein. Ackrill.. 3rd ed. Thinking and Deciding. What Greek word does Aristotle use to describe our terms of mind and intellect? 2. IA: Harcourt Brace & Co.L. FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING Questions 1. 2003. Jonathan. Muslims. Is there a relation between predication and being? How are they different sides of the same coin? Suggested Reading Aristotle. Other Books of Interest Baron. Richard E. Dubuque.

Aristotle wants to understand. for example—but is focused on being itself. What are the different senses of being healthy? 2. The book was given this title because in ancient editions of Aristotle it followed works referred to as the Physics and so is. Being isn’t dependent on the existence of the verb “to be. The investigation is concerned not with understanding some specific instance or type of being—being a mammal. in effect. what is also sometimes translated being qua being. Aristotle at the beginning of Book 4 of the Metaphysics describes “first philosophy” as a science that investigates being. 8. Being has no single one sense because there are so many different kinds of being.” For example. being as being.” being is referred to. is “said in many senses.” being is inherent in the very predicative structure of assertion. Books 4. 1.” Aristotle himself describes the subject matter of the Metaphysics as “first philosophy. Aristotle says that being is equivocal. The study of being is not linguistic. being. C. 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. The science that he envisions in the Metaphysics is a general one. and 12. There are a number of features involved in this description: 1. Our word metaphysics comes directly from the title of Aristotle’s book.Lecture 10: The Metaphysics: What Is Philosophy? The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Aristotle’s The Metaphysics (translated by Hugh Lawson-Tancred). 2. 9. it is concerned with ontology on the whole and the universal structure of what is. 3. . in “I cut the grass. I am seated and I am in this room. as he puts it. . Aristotle is investigating something quite ordinary and ubiquitous.” Consider this .” Even in languages without a verb “to be. How is it that substances can have a determinate nature and still be the basic fundamental subjects of predication? I. What Is First Philosophy? A. What is the relation of weights and their weights? 3.” 40 . “The Book That Comes After the Physics. 7. we can think of the assertion as equivalent to “I am being a grass cutter. In investigating being. LECTURE TEN B. the Metaphysics. as he puts it. Aristotle’s study of being cuts across the categories of being.

Aristotle argues that indeed being is said in many senses. All the different senses of being are related back to. namely the question.D. predication. A. the sense that is reflected in substance. In the course of his discussion. between beings and their being. and are to be understood in relation to this primary sense of being. We may think of this as a distinction between substances and their substance. When Aristotle thinks about being. One thinks in terms of categories. 2. In doing ontology. ‘What is being?. as in the question of identity: “What is it?” C. that of substance. On the one hand substance is identified with being a this. There is a distinction between the two different criteria of substance. 51). There is a distinction between substances and their substance. we must talk about substance. with being 41 .” how could there then be a science of being as such? E. A substance is something not said of a subject but that of which other things are said. There is a distinction between substance and the other categories of being. Think of this on an analogy with the distinction between weights and their weight (see sidebar. Aristotle draws several distinctions related to the study of being. therefore. ‘What is substance?’” B. p. 3. Substance is connected with the what. Reading Aristotle demands patience as he moves from one distinction to another.’ is just the question. II. is primary. or more generally. Aristotle describes the situation this way: “And indeed the question that was raised of old. 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. he makes many different distinctions. A substance is something that has a determinate nature. and the structure of things in the world. definition. According to Aristotle there are two criteria in virtue of which we identify something as substance: 1. 1. This distinction underlies the argument that to understand substance is to understand the nature of being in general. and the like. and is raised now and always. Substance represents a kind of “Subjectness. At the beginning of Book 7 of the Metaphysics. III. If being is equivocal and “said in many senses.” 2. The other thinks in terms of change. 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. but that one of these senses. and is always the subject of doubt. Because of this the study of being can be conducted by attending to the nature and structure of substance. process. Think of the difference between being in relation to the several categories and being in relation to the concepts of potentiality and actuality. Some Ontological Distinctions A.

that is. implied in the doctrine of forms. is the matter of the threshold. form the shape into which it is made. how in the case of substance a subject can be identical with what it is. then the form is that by virtue of which the beam constitutes a threshold: in this case. consists. Aristotle wants a theory in which Socrates is human by virtue of himself. It’s easy to think of matter and form in terms of change or making: matter is what something is made out of. B. being the thing. there would be only a constant replacement of one thing by another. to be further determinable.” Instead of subjects undergoing change. however. in other words with having a determinate nature. Without substance there would be “Ontological Schizophrenia.capable of serving as a subject. 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. If something doesn’t have an essential nature. according to which everything is a relation between a subject and its being. that which is. 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. Socrates is a human being only by virtue of his relation to the form human being. in his own right as a substantial being. These distinctions are related to one another. 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. for example. Aristotle wants to understand how it is possible for us to recognize the unity of a subject and its being. In the Metaphysics. a horse for instance. and on the other hand with being a what. as it were. it will be overwhelmed by the accidental features that are true of it. the combination of subject and being. Substance in Terms of Matter and Form A. So if the wooden beam is the matter of which the threshold consists. 42 . In order to be determinable a subject has to be determinate. we can distinguish the following: 1. The application of these notions allows us to think through the structure of substance. LECTURE TEN C. Correspondingly. being in a certain position beneath a door. 3. and this enables it to serve as subject. 1. 2. the subject which is the horse: the matter of which the horse. On this view. A wooden beam which is a threshold. the being by which it is a horse: the form or principle by virtue of which the matter is a horse. The matter of something is what the thing consists of. 2. IV. that which is something in this material sense is specifically that thing. so to speak. If we take a particular substance. B. Substance is the basic kind of being because its being is determinate. He wants us to be free from what he takes to be a Platonist theory.

First potentiality First actuality = second potentiality Second actuality Analogy from language A Venetian (including a newborn) is able to speak Italian (contrast a newborn dog) even when he can’t yet speak it. “Weights” are the objects used as standards in weighing things—the ounce weight. SUBSTANCES AND THEIR SUBSTANCE Here’s an analogy to help you think about the distinction between substances and their substance. “What do we mean by weight?” You might answer that the term is used in two ways. It is their weight in the second sense that constitutes them as weights in the first sense. Aristotle goes on to develop. This allows him to develop a theory in which beings are not just things that stand in some relation to their natures. Imagine that someone (perhaps a new speaker of English) asked you the question. The substance of a horse is nothing other than the horse busy at work being a horse. An adult Venetian is able to speak Italian (contrast most of the population of Brule. God is shown to be essentially activity itself. in Book 9 of the Metaphysics. substances and their substance. Substance is said primarily to be associated with the notion of activity. the notion of activity. VI. but are instances of actively being what they are. Substances thus express their natures by being them and are thought by Aristotle as paradigms of the general activity of being. These weights are the weights that they are because of their weight. Italian Global Body Soul Living Nutrition Nutrive System Power of digestion Eating and digesting Food Perception in General Perceptual organ Perceptual power Perceiving Object of perception Sight Eye Sight Seeing Sight Hearing Ear Power of hearing Actual hearing Sound Thought What goes here? Mind Thinking Thoughts Object A life 43 . in other words. Nebraska) even when silent. the divine. the half-pound weight. Guido is speaking Italian while ordering la colazione. the pound weight. Aristotle discusses the divine as the principle of being. The Notion of Activity A. The Divine A. Aristotle wants us to understand the basic structure of being on the model of this human being being human. B. In later books of the Metaphysics. The relation in your answer reproduces the relation between our two senses of substance: weights and their weight. V.D. is that being which is just being what it is. and that there are two kinds of things to which the term applies.

that I ask. 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. “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. Judaism. God answers. and Christianity. then we have invoked the nature of divine being. C. When. 44 . Suppose. for example. “I AM WHAT I AM. For the fundamental structure of Aristotelian being is exemplified in the fact that each thing is exactly what it is. Summary: LECTURE TEN It is for this reason that Aristotle appeared so attractive to the biblically rooted religions of Islam.B.” The basic thought of Aristotle’s Metaphysics is in keeping with this very answer. This explains how God could be thought to constitute the fundamental principle of all being in the world. Moses asks God to identify himself. in Exodus.

Identity and Explanation in Aristotle’s Metaphysics. 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. NY: Cornell University Press. The Metaphysics. Trans. Unity. New York: Penguin. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Ithaca. 1991. Mary Louise. Other Books of Interest Gill. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Aristotle on Substance: The Paradox of Unity. Charlotte. and how do they help explain the soul? Suggested Reading Aristotle. FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING Questions 1. Hugh Lawson-Tancred. David Charles. 1989. New ed. How are the soul and body related according to Aristotle? How does this relation work with regard to the mind? 3. What are the different levels of potentiality and actuality. 1994. and Mary Louise Gill. Substance and Essence in Aristotle: An Interpretation of Metaphysics VII–IX. Theodore. 1999. Witt. 45 . Scaltsas.

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. 2. as evidenced in his treatise De Anima or On the Soul. Why. LECTURE ELEVEN 1. In addition. Above all. He rejected this idea that the parts of the offspring must be in the seed of the parents. 1. Aristotle did extensive work in the biological sciences. or why not? I. Lennox). He understood functions to be explanatorily prior. Aristotle’s biological writings present a complex mix of observation and analysis within the context of a theoretical account of animal life. but only formally.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. For Aristotle. 2. a natural science like biology did not consist simply of the gathering of empirical evidence. that the embryo and its parts are contained in miniature in the body of one or another of the parents (usually the father). But he also placed great emphasis on the explanatory role of scientific theory. . The seed has the power to produce the 46 . which meant that material structure was not as important an explanatory fact as formal structure. with the activity of theoretical science. natural history was always to be coupled with demonstration and explanation. B. If you could take a soul and put it in a coffee cup. would the coffee cup be alive? 2. Aristotle argued against the view. Hicks) and On the Parts of Animals I–IV (translated by James G. and did much work in classifying and enumerating features of animal life and in discovering empirical evidence among those features. Aristotle and Biology A.D. According to Aristotle the animal is contained in the seed. his biological work is rich in its understanding of the relation of organic structure to biological function. 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. Consider this . He was interested in animal life from the standpoint of natural history. common in antiquity. An example from embryology will make this clear. . C.

3. theoretical account of animal life. But in such a case. On the Soul is written in three books: 1.animal by a process of formation in which the seed supplies information on how to produce another of its same kind. Book 3 talks about the nature of soul to human beings and the essence of thought. It may help understand this fact to note that a common word in Greek for being alive means having a soul. The Structure and Argument of the Treatise On the Soul A. For in asking what the nature of the soul is. Aristotle agreed with his predecessors in their understanding of what the soul is meant to account for. Book 2 offers a general account of the soul and its faculties in general and a detailed discussion of the nature of perception. 2. The Treatise De Anima or On the Soul A. Things that are alive have self-initiated motion so that they can act in the world. the soul is whatever the principle is that explains living things being alive. 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. 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. (This is in essence what we today think of as the role of DNA. B. 3. Book 1 considers the theoretical account of soul and life given by Aristotle’s predecessors. B. They are able not merely to act in the world but to be affected by the world and be aware of that affection. 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 the soul. having a soul means being an animal. In thinking about Aristotle’s treatment of the soul in this work. Self-motion. Aristotle’s book On the Soul is an abstract. Living things exhibit some form of perceptual consciousness or awareness. those very principles would constitute the nature of the soul.” it might then be clear to us that someone asking. 47 . Aristotle is asking simply what the distinction is between living and non-living things.) II. Perception. “What is it to be alive?” III. it helps to think back to Plato’s Phaedo. That may seem wrongheaded. 2.” is asking. The characteristic activities that mark out things as alive are fundamentally two: 1.

An organism is not a simple combination of a body and a soul. B.” an instrument. He describes the body as “organicon.” To understand what Aristotle means. Like the ability to speak English. Aristotle disagreed with his predecessors. To account for the motion of a living thing. This ability itself (as is made clear when one is silent) is distinct from the actuality of actually speaking. The realized ability of an adult to speak English. The potentiality of a newborn to speak English. Similarly. however. the soul. the activity that occurs when one is engaged in talking English. 2. something that when attached to a body brings life along with it. we will need to understand the notion of a first actuality. in other regards. is the global organ for the carrying out of the functions of life. b. But there is a difference between the potentiality that a newborn has to speak English and the potentiality of an adult English speaker. even if the speaker is momentarily silent.C. Aristotle makes this point about the body by using a word we encountered earlier. 3. realized in actual talk. the body must be highly organized and determinate. and a potentiality for further realization. So we can distinguish three levels of potentiality and actuality. IV. he writes. Aristotle’s Definition of the Soul A. in order to be the principle of an animal being alive. Aristotle says this misunderstands exactly what it is for something to be a principle of the ability to move. For Aristotle. The adult’s ability is the “developed” potentiality of the newborn’s. 48 . he disagrees that the soul. The body. it is an “ensouled” body. a. The full actuality of speaking. LECTURE ELEVEN 2. this is a fundamentally incorrect manner of looking at the relation of body to soul. You could add a soul to a coffee cup and the coffee cup would be alive. The second of these levels is what Aristotle means by a first actuality. we might say. 4. 1. 1. The soul is the set of capacities that resides in that body. must itself be something that is alive. 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. C. Aristotle argues that if that were the case. The soul is the form of an animal of which the body is simply the material correlate. the soul would be capable of bringing about life by its connection to any body whatsoever. 3. Every human being has the ability or potentiality to speak English. But in order for this to be true. “is the first actuality of a natural body that has life potentially in it. Early in Book 2 Aristotle offers a general definition of what the soul is. his predecessors thought that the soul itself must be in motion. it is at once the realization of a potentiality.

2. 49 . The bodily nutritive system: the stomach. our ability to perceive or take the world in and transform it. B. Perception is the passive ability to be affected by the sensible form of things. in this case. the power of visibility.D. Seeing is thought of as being affected by the activity of a visible thing in its appearing to a subject. for example). soul): the activities of life. 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. Roughly. Sight is the faculty. 4. It is because the eye is an organ designed to capture the look of things that the animal is able to see. 2. D. into conscious awareness. 1. the analogy looks like this: The body is analogous to the infant’s ability to speak. What is seen is the object of the activity. This scheme of Body/Soul/Living is only the global version of a scheme Aristotle employs throughout his work. the ability or power to see. Our ability to take in food and to make it into ourselves is analogous to the capacity for perception. The scheme we outlined can be applied to the psychic capacity of the nutritive system: 1. E. Seeing itself is the activity. (part of) the bodily system of the perception. The nutritive faculty: the power these things have to do something. Two Examples of “Psychic” Activities A. Now consider this scheme (now four-part) with respect to a psychic activity of perception (seeing. intestines. as it were. The eye is the organ. and that power is realized in “being seen. the activities we might call “psychic” (from the Greek psyche. 3. F. Eating and digesting: the activity of nutrition. One of the central capacities of animal life is the capacity for nutrition. Thus the subject and the object are linked in a perceptual chain. E. The soul is analogous to the adult’s realized ability to speak. Aristotle then adds a fourth part to this structure. The activity of living is analogous to the activity of actual speech. C. The soul is such a principle in which living is the analogy of speaking English. With it he gives a general account of the activities that distinguish living beings.” In this sense “seeing” and “being seen” are the same activity. 3. The general account of sense perception is that it is capacity to take on the sensible form of an object without the matter. In his discussion Aristotle construes “seeing” as passive and “being seen” as active. For the object itself has its own power. 4. V. the object of the eating: food. and digestive structure.

Aristotle turns to a theory of mind. but rather as the paradigm instance of consciousness pure and simple.G. elaborated through Book 2 and the opening chapters of Book 3 of On the Soul. like seeing and hearing and like perception in general. It is thought that allows us as humans to experience the world as we do. 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. Suppose you leave an open onion next to some cream cheese overnight. it is being affected consciously. 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. Mind appears here. not as a monitor that oversees perceptual activity and allows sensation to become conscious perception. In the morning the cream cheese smells like onion. is a form of conscious awareness. and that allows us to think of ourselves as humans leading our lives and not just living them. is thus preparatory to a more general question: What is the nature of awareness? In Book 3. This is because the cream cheese has taken on the sensible form of the onion without its matter. Summary: LECTURE ELEVEN Aristotle’s theory of perception. Aristotle closes his discussion with an apparent difficulty. Smelling.” 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. But does the cream cheese then smell the onion? Of course not. Recall from the Metaphysics that mind is “that which is most divine about the universe. 50 .

Allan. WI: Dumb Ox Press. Trans. Beloit. Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics. De Anima. it is suggested that the term “desouled” might be appropriate for the dead. 51 . how are the soul and the body related? 3. 1991. What is the difference between actuality and potentiality? Suggested Reading Aristotle. On the Parts of Animals I–IV. FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING Questions 1. Other Books of Interest Aquinas. 2002. ———. R. Gotthelf. Lenox. 1995. New ed. Lennox. Hicks. What precedent would Aristotle use to support such a claim? 2. Cambridge. New York: Prometheus Books. eds. According to Aristotle. James G. 1987. Thomas. MA: Cambridge University Press. New York: Oxford University Press. and James G.D. Philosophical Issues in Aristotle’s Biology. In this lecture. Trans.

in such a way as to focus upon the question of what kind of person we wish to become. and specifically the role that virtue plays in a good human life and in the achievement of happiness. but specifically about human life. Aristotle considers general issues concerning the goals of human life and action. 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 . 1. What is it that will make for a happy and well-functioning life? I. In this work. we will now be thinking not just about animal life in general. What Is Ethics? A. How might we go about achieving these things? 3. identified as happiness. Consider this . 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. as we shall see. 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 as human beings do we want out of our lives? 2. but in terms of the flourishing and happiness of human beings. B. . The Argument of the Nicomachean Ethics LECTURE TWELVE A.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). His account includes a discussion of the nature of deliberation. At the beginning of the Ethics. purposefully aware of ourselves as acting: engaging in what the Greeks called praxis. Aristotle argues that all questions of human activity involve a conception of the good at which we aim. a life devoted finally to achieving human wellbeing or happiness. choice and moral action and the role that they play in a life of human virtue. B. . In discussing Aristotle’s ethics. specifically the work known as the Nicomachean Ethics. To say that ethics is concerned with the question of how to lead a human life so as to achieve happiness is characteristically Aristotelian. We may put it simply by saying that ethics is the understanding of what it means to lead a good human life. II. the kind of action that is distinctively human. He means by this that we are not simply living our lives but are leading our lives. but conceived.

the action itself is the end. Aristotle says we will be able to give an even clearer answer to what is the meaning of happiness. What Is the Nature of Happiness? A. Could it be the case. Aristotle presupposes that what we aim at is the highest human good: human welfare and well-being. III. Happiness for Aristotle is a mode of well-being and not just a state of feeling good. cases important for Aristotle’s argument. Then what is the highest good at which human action aims? 1. As Aristotle says explicitly. and that the various 53 . Note that in asking this question. happiness is “the same as living well and doing well”. that the various activities of human life (professions. This end need not be independent of the action itself. 1. however. happiness is not about feeling good but about leading a life that is good.good. Human being is not serving a purpose beyond itself. It is for this reason that Aristotle sees a life well lived as a life characterized by happiness. C. Happiness really means a life in which things have worked out in the way we would like them to work out. eudaimonia. D. in some cases. what is the good of human life? He says that everyone agrees that the ultimate good of human life is happiness. an end that we want to see realized. 3.” suggest that still for us happiness in its true sense signifies the condition of how things go for you in your life. or something that the action brings about. and the good of human being therefore doesn’t lie in the fulfillment of such an external purpose. we would be involved in an infinite regress. 2. understood as the good of human life. 3. To point out. like being a carpenter or being a professor) could be said to have functions. if we attend to the question of the function of human beings.” cognate with words like “perhaps. it lies only in doing well. 2. B. 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.” and “happenstance. Aristotle goes on to answer the question. Indeed. for example. The etymology of the English word “happiness.” “happen. Aristotle asks. 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. 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. The Greek word for happiness. 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. suggests simply a life that is successful. 1. Aristotle argues. that has been lived well. Otherwise if we imagined that everything we choose is for the sake of some other thing that we choose.

Virtue is an intermediate notion poised between a natural capacity. 1. 1. There must. the virtue of courage. Virtue A. such as a person of practical wisdom would use to determine. B. a function is simply the characteristic activity that a thing engages in. and how should I act? but equally and perhaps more importantly. is centered on the notion of virtue. So Aristotle hopes to articulate the meaning of happiness by attending to the characteristic activity of what it is to be human. in that we are not born with them. IV. they are characteristic dispositions that are formed by habituation. 2. LECTURE TWELVE C. Character is necessary in the structure of human life. that is. as an instance of this analysis. he argues. but character itself is always formed by the modes of action. V. The focus here is on the development of states of character that will lead to certain actions. Function A. For the Greeks in general. Courage is the capacity to act courageously in the right circumstances and in the right way when we are called upon to do so. but that being a human being itself does not have a function? 2. B. the idea of leading a good life was not simply about the question is. realized in the form of a virtue and realized by the very activities that the virtue is a dispositional capacity toward. a mean defined by a rational principle. What kind of person do I want to be. Remember (think back to Plato’s Republic) that function is not the notion of an instrumental purpose outside of itself. be a function of human being in general. And being courageous is something we become habituated to by continuing 54 . but they are not contrary to nature either. 1. but character is nonetheless central.organs of the body could be said to have functions. consisting in observing the mean relative to us. the person I want to be is a person who acts well. Aristotle says that virtues are not natural. like that of Plato. 2. Happiness on this account turns out to be activity of the soul in conformity with virtue. Aristotle puts it this way: “A virtue is a characteristic involving choice. Aristotle introduces us to the subject of virtue. Aristotle’s ethical theory. We can think of virtues in terms of second nature. living a characteristic human life in conformity with the notions of what would make a life of that sort good.” Consider. and those actions are understood to be virtuous only when they emanate from such states of character. what kind of character do I aspire toward? Of course. These states of character are the virtues. In Book 2 of the Nicomachean Ethics. What should I do.

and held responsible only for what we engage in as voluntary human agents. The theory of choice reveals the fact that these dispositions are really dispositional capacities for deliberating well and choosing well. The virtues further involve not simply the recognition of proper action or feeling relative to our desire. Choice and Deliberation A.” 2. are described as relative to choice. Summary: In the Western tradition. Finally. 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. practical wisdom came to be called prudence. Virtue is a capacity for the deliberate choice of a good life. Prudence now often refers simply to selfish interests or to interests in contrast to our moral obligations. it is. Because moral life is so much involved in deliberation. B. but the cultivation of proper desire itself. in this case. Aristotle turns in Book 6 of the Ethics to the relation between virtues of thought and virtues he thinks of as the moral virtues. D. It’s not enough to have a will. In that book we are led to a conception of good thinking as an analogy of good acting. 3. E. Aristotle describes courage as “the mean with regard to feelings of fear and confidence. Notice that Aristotle describes courage as the mean with respect to feelings of fear and confidence. not for what we are forced to do or do by accident. Choice and deliberation: The virtues. recklessness and cowardice. The chief ethical question becomes: how can we become sensitive to what it is that the world requires of us. where by passion we mean feelings. The voluntary: We are praised. described as capacities for action and feeling. Aristotle thinks of virtues as means with respect to actions and passions. a matter of complex judgment. 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. the goal of human ethical cultivation is the cultivation of proper and appropriate desires themselves. C. But for Aristotle. and how 55 . Choosing well here means how to act and how to behave and how to feel. VI. Thus Aristotle marks off the chief cognitive virtue as practical wisdom. A virtue in this way involves a mean between an excess and a deficiency. therefore. It is the notion of an ability that an agent has to know what to do and how to act. The Voluntary. our dispositions are involved globally in our ability to exercise reason in the deliberative choice of how to act.modes of courageous action. A sensitivity to what it is situations demand of us constitutes the heart of a good human life. blamed. The task of living virtuously is finding the mean. To live a good life involves a delicate balance between.

can we become possessed of the practical wisdom—the know-how—that will enable us to work out what to do? LECTURE TWELVE 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. as political animals. 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. 56 . as animals within a social context. that is.

Morris. Richard. Commentary on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. What is the difference between a mode of being and a state of being? 3. Roger Crisp. Trans. Can happiness as it is used in the vernacular be understood by Aristotle’s definition of the word? 4. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Trans. How can an action be an end itself? 2. Kenneth. “What kind of person do I want to be?” Suggested Reading Aristotle. FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING Questions 1. 1993. NY: State University of New York Press. How would an approach to life differ if one were to seek a good life by asking. Albany. NY: Institute of Global Cultural Studies. Telford. 57 .. Binghamton. Jan Edward Garrett. Nicomachean Ethics. New York: Henry Holt & Co. 2000. If Aristotle Ran General Motors. The Political Dimensions of Aristotle’s Ethics. 1999. Thomas V. Other Books of Interest Bodeus. 1998.

both genetically and formally. it is our nature to live in the context of civilization or culture. It gives an account of what the city (or as we would more generally call it. . 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. Human beings are by nature political. According to Aristotle. is the creation of literary art. One of the central institutions of political life. It offers a discussion on the nature of citizenship—a citizen being someone who has power to affect the polis. 3. one of the central components of civilized human beings. It is a level of social organization that involves governing and being governed. 1. that is. Who rules? b. . Consider this . to live social lives in common with others with whom we are politically connected. 58 .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). In Aristotle’s view. The Politics A. the best form of government is a constitutional government in which many govern for the sake of the governed. Forms of government can be classified on the basis of answers to these two questions: LECTURE THIRTEEN a. Is there a linking between politics and a “moral life” in modern forms of government and the arts? I. what are the possible forms of government? 2. In this lecture. It describes the various modes of constitution or government. The political in a general sense is the extension of family. and all natural human associations. 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. the Politics can be thought of as an account on the understanding of governance. More importantly. friendship. the state) is. The goal (the telos) of the polis is the realization of a good life. For Aristotle. 2. social and political life—life in the city or polis—is the environment in which human beings best flourish. The Politics concerns itself with several issues: 1.

in a sense unfinished animals. How are the notions of tragedy. but here I want to stress only two features I think salient in the theory of the Politics: 1. It is only in the social and cultural context of civilization that full determination is given to them. as he puts it. Considering Aristotle’s Poetics together with his treatment of political life in the Politics should raise in your mind questions such as these: 1. Statesmanship or political science is a form of wisdom. a dialect variation of the more standard 59 . how is poetry connected to the moral life? 3. and only there that happiness can flourish. 2. For Aristotle thinks that human beings are by nature social. Aristotle says that tragic poetry. the “master science” that governs human flourishing. and art connected to notions of ethics and politics? 2. In the beginning of the Poetics. like all literature. man is. Indeed. C. as individuals. the Greek word “drama” is. for this reason. We can think of Aristotle as urging that human beings are civilized animals. a political animal by nature. It means that only in the context of the polis are human beings able to do their greatest natural good. animals capable of best flourishing in the civilized and cultured environment of a social community in which people are capable of governing themselves well. as Aristotle points out. poetry. it is about imitated or imagined action. More generally. This claim of Aristotle’s about human beings does not mean simply that people are gregarious. The Politics is. Statesmanship is a natural human capacity. There are many interesting features to Aristotle’s discussion in the Politics. well-being. he says. It is the wisdom that enables a statesman to know how best to rule and help others conduct themselves well within society. II. The word “political” has a fruitful analogue in our word civilized. is an imitation or mimesis. D. Specifically.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. and happiness. Human beings are. The Poetics A.

Virtue is shaped by our “acting” out the role of—we might say impersonating—the virtuous person. Aristotle holds that the effect of witnessing tragedy (in a poem or on stage. in a sense. How is it possible then. Some of the connections between tragedy and the moral will begin to be revealed if we consider the complexity of acting. 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. which we consider to be part of the “real” world? B. An important fact is that the theater—the principle site of drama and tragedy—is an arena of imitated representation.Greek word for action. become firm in our ability to choose and act appropriately. We don’t experience emotions in a theatrical context in the same way that we might be expected to experience them in real life. imitative or mimetic. can be carried out. provides as well contexts of sanctuary in which dangerous activities. emotions get experienced in a context without connection to our practical lives. tragic poetry. that something that is connected with the mimetic or fictional could be related to something like ethics. b. LECTURE THIRTEEN ii. art is similarly capable of marking off a sacred space in which we are allowed to experience emotions safely. including such intensifications. praxis. b. the institutions of theater. for example) is pleasurable yet simultaneously associated with the experience of fear and pity. 60 . Some features of the Poetics 1. Because of this. that is. Ritual. Therefore. ii. by the instances of acting virtuously through which we become habituated. and art in general are like the institutions of ritual. The events that occasion these emotions are not happening in our real lives. By virtue of being imitative. 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. 2. a tragedy or drama is an imitation of an action. It is only when the virtue is perfected within us that we are able to act from virtue rather than in imitation of virtue. c. Next we need to consider the nature of tragedy as a form of theatricality. 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. Recall that for Aristotle the assumption of virtue is achieved by acts of imitation. This ambiguity of meaning should remind us of the respect in which all moral action is. How (with apologies to Coleridge) can poetry raise a sunny dome of pleasure upon the icy caves of terror and commiseration? c. In this sense. a. which serves a function of intensifying and enforcing structures of communal life. a.

Aristotle sees in tragedy a revelation of the constant possibility of fracture between these two aspects of action. It is the general feature of tragically represented actions that they all derive from the universal possibility of mistake or mishap. It is this multiplicity or ambiguity of action that is the phenomena of tragic conflict. This is not the fear that we will undergo the specific events that are depicted in tragedy. when acting out of good character. Goodness of character and excellence of deliberation cannot in fact guarantee our happiness. d. A more important ambiguity for Aristotle derives from the distinction between two different modes of capturing and individuating actions: i. Actions can be given many different descriptions. with where it breaks down or goes wrong. 3. An action in this sense is an agent’s activity. in a space of sanctuary of the universal fear that we are subject to the terrible events that occur in tragedy. an action is what emerges as the result of our activity. for example. This ambiguity can be thought of in two different ways: a. 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.d. On the other hand. a deed simultaneously commanded and prohibited. At our very best. we often will act in ways that bring about our downfall. In Sophocles’ Antigone. in that very world in which they are enacted. Aristotle believes that tragedies point to the general liability of action to mishap and consequently the fragility of our happiness and moral character. b. actions that are good from the point of view of an agent may nonetheless be revealed as bad. good under one description. What tragedy allows is our experience in an environment of safety. An action in this sense is an entity in the world. c. Behind all this is Aristotle’s deep interest in the ambiguity of action. An action is the object of the deliberation or choice of an acting agent. through no wickedness of the agent. This is a terrifying fact that tragedy helps us confront. e. the fundamental conflict of action is whether or not Antigone should bury her brother. ii. bad under another. We are not gods and cannot guarantee that our actions will bring about our well-being. with good deliberation. Tragic poetry can help us to come to terms with the terrible weight of these distinctions. an entity that emanates out of an action but then subsequently has a life of its own. it is what someone does. What follows from this is the distinction of being responsible for an action and being blamable for an action. Aristotle is recognizing the fact that there is a fundamental tragic rift in the world at this joint of human action. The Poetics can 61 . The same action therefore can be understood to be both good and bad. Aristotle’s concern with moral action in the Poetics is thus with the pathology of such action.

This cleansing is the catharsis to which Aristotle briefly refers in his account of tragedy. 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. 62 . 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. 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. 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. In tragedy.LECTURE THIRTEEN 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. We are invited in the Poetics to acknowledge the fears and vulnerabilities of our well-being.

Chapel Hill. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Ed. Steven Everson. How does the complexity of our notion of “acting” reveal itself in dramatic art? 2. Amelie O. FL: Florida State University Press. ———. Tallahassee. Leon Golden. Commentary O. 63 . 1992. How does art allow us to go beyond what might be considered good? 3. A Philosophical Commentary on the Politics of Aristotle. 1996. In what different ways can actions be thought of as ambiguous? Suggested Reading Aristotle. 2nd ed. Hardison. Simpson.B. 1998. Trans. NC: University of North Carolina Press. 1982. Aristotle: The Politics and the Constitution of Athens. FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING Questions 1. Aristotle’s Poetics: A Translation and Commentary for Students of Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Peter L. Essays on Aristotle’s Poetics of Athens. Other Books of Interest Rorty.

Consider this . Most simply understood. otherwise. But Plato and Aristotle present moral philosophy more in terms of the development of a skill. A moral virtue for Plato and Aristotle is a state of character. These states of character are thought of as dispositions. concerned. According to Plato and Aristotle alike. B. as ready and developed capacities that individuals have for choosing and acting properly. to specific states of moral character. Virtue A. “Virtue” in their vocabulary refers less to a general state of moral goodness than to specific features of our character. Can philosophy help an individual overcome fear of the unknown? I. which means that an individual with a virtue is skilled at behaving morally in an appropriate way. Which philosophical contributions by Plato and Aristotle are applicable to modern life? Why? 2. the question of moral philosophy is not simply the question: how am I to conduct myself in my life. 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. It is easy to think of moral philosophy as concerned with rules and regulations on how to behave properly. 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. In addition to virtue being a good quality. D. Such a capacity can be looked upon as a skill. the skill of character. it is important to see that virtue enables a subject to do well what it does: it makes it possible 64 . a virtue is a good quality. one could imagine good people simply sleep their lives away.Lecture 14: Plato and Aristotle: A Final Review and Summation The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Kenneth J. with moral law. In this final lecture we end our discussion by summarizing what we’ve discussed throughout the course. . But a good life is a life in which actions are not only in accord with virtue but are the realizations of those virtues. Dover’s Greek Popular Morality in the Time of Plato and Aristotle. . LECTURE FOURTEEN C. as it were. but someone who behaves that way out of good character. A good person is not someone who merely behaves in a certain way. a good life is a life of activity in which the states of character we call virtues are actualized and not simply possessed. 1. E.

If what she wants is a conductor of electricity.for something to succeed at being what it is. 65 . and this view. that is. at the center of the analysis. To understand is to comprehend that and why something is the case. 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. but as a dynamic and complex nexus of modes of being— of substances—which express their nature and are what they are. 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. F. we may come to think of ontology as being as a theory of the being of beings. articulated in terms of being. B. C. then it’s certainly not true that being made of copper is a virtue. VIRTUE AND BEING Here’s a question that might help us understand the logical relation between virtue as goodness and being. Throughout these discussions. is the fact that the theory of being places the notion of activity. The world. this idea of the centrality of being is pursued. perhaps more particularly in Aristotle than in Plato. II. The word ontological here refers simply to the science of being. An animal is a being characterized by the fact that it is alive. this fact of being alive. is not presented to us as a series of inert objects that have qualities stuck to them. in its full gerundive and verbal sense. In other dialogues. What is striking. But if we think of the distinction we noted in Aristotle between a thing and its being. Is it a virtue. being made of copper is indeed a virtue. His concern with explaining this notion of being is fundamental to a variety of his philosophical enterprises and projects. Soul A. We saw this fact expressed in the link between virtue and function. offers a clear example of this link. D. Plato asks what the essential nature is that is specified by some certain mode of being. The notion of virtue is always associated then with the predicative being of the subject to which virtue is attributed. Being A. the Theaetetus. 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. is it a good thing. Virtue here depends on being. it follows from this that virtue is linked to being. including the Parmenides and the Sophist. it’s highly dangerous. 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. But if what she wants to have is an insulator. Plato’s dialogue. Plato stresses his conviction that the world is articulated in ontological structures. for the object of understanding is always an instance of being. III. For Aristotle animals are the paradigmatic modes of substance. Plato shows that you can never grasp the concept of understanding or knowing in that way.

Above all these philosophers share a commitment to reason as critical to our moral. The soul. and of being acted upon without being overtaken by the world. by which animals are capable of freely acting in the world. Philosophy is understood by both as one of the fundamental modalities of the desire to understand. a vision possessed by us but often forgotten. These modalities. such a principle is called an essential form and in Aristotle. and of the world as we conceive it. it is simply the principle of our being alive. Final Thoughts A.as the fundamental being of such an entity. sustained by the eye we keep trained on wisdom. define what it is to be alive and consequently what it is to have a soul. and free animals. LECTURE FOURTEEN D. IV. they allow us to accept joyfully rather than fearfully our own uncertainty. on the contrary. Philosophy is not about new discovery but about the recovery of our deepest intuitions and understandings of the world. the formal cause of things that are alive being alive. B. however. rational. moral agents. Finally. and perhaps justly. aware. B. “desire to understand. 66 . “ Aristotle remarks at the opening of the Metaphysics. It is often said. and spiritual lives and to reason as nourishing us in our innate desire to understand. a thing that makes us alive.” We should avoid categorizing these philosophers into mutually exclusive camps. They call us to live happily in the acceptance of our finite and mortal selves.” 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. Philosophy is devoted to wisdom as a redemptive appropriation of our self-understanding and our vision of the world. is made possible for Plato and Aristotle by the fact an animal has a soul. 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. In Plato. active. The care of the soul means attending to these features of ourselves as rational animals. the wisdom whose love Plato and Aristotle. C. while Aristotle attempts to explain everything as clearly as he can. political. The pursuit of wisdom and thus the enterprise of philosophy is a project of coming to see ourselves as we are. The deepest community in Plato and Aristotle is the vision of philosophy as the mode for caring for ourselves as thinking. For both philosophers the features that characterize human animals are awareness and the capacity for self-generated activity. “All human beings. that Plato seems to court a certain mysteriousness and seems willing to leave unsaid that which he thinks cannot be said. is not a “something” that we have. continually invite us to entertain. 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. It thus means being attentive constantly to our lives as conscious beings and to our lives as thinking. as philosophers.

How can the works of these two philosophers enhance lives of those living in the twenty-first century? Suggested Reading Dover. 2000. PA: University of Scranton Press.” How does this approach differ from our two philosophers’ approaches to moral philosophy? 2. Berkeley: University of California Press. Madigan. Argument of the Action: Essays on Greek Poetry and Philosophy. MD: University Press of America. Aristotle and His Modern Critics: The Uses of Tragedy in the Nontragic Vision. 1992. Patrick. Other Books of Interest Benardete. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 67 . eds. Scranton. Gotshalk. Corporations commonly have a corporate philosophy or morality often codified in a “Code of Ethics. Beginnings of Philosophy in Greece. and Ronna Burger. FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING Questions 1. Richard. What is the commonality of the two philosophers in their understanding of the soul? 3. Kenneth J. Michael Davis. 2000. Greek Popular Morality in the Time of Plato and Aristotle. Seth. 1974. Lanham.

Trans. Nicomachean Ethics. Trans. New York: Random House. Benardete. Other Books of Interest: Adler. IN: Hackett Publishing Company. Christopher Gill. Michael Davis. Bodeus. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kenneth J. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. and Ronna Burger. New York: Prometheus Books. 68 . Conversations of Socrates. 2002. Commentary O. 1999. Allen.. Hardison. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ———. Thinking and Deciding. On the Parts of Animals I–IV. ———. 2003. Argument of the Action: Essays on Greek Poetry and Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Phaedo. Jan Edward Garrett. 1990. R. Inc. Lenox. New York: Penguin. Richard McKeon. Greek Popular Morality In the Time of Plato and Aristotle. Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics. The Dialogues of Plato. 1996. 2000. COURSE MATERIALS Baron. Hicks. Steven Everson. Rosamond Kent. ———. ———. The Basic Works of Aristotle. Plato’s Socrates. Aristotle’s Poetics: A Translation and Commentary for Students of Literature. 2001. Leon Golden. Trans. Menexenus. and Nicholas D. Thomas C. Hugh Lawson-Tancred. Richard. Apology. Volume 1: Euthyphro. Crito. Meno. 2004 ———. Indianapolis.D. 2001. ———. Trans. Dover. 1992. 1993. Albany. 1996. New York: Oxford University Press.D.. ———. 2nd ed. Brickhouse. Trans. Aristotle and the Theology of the Living Immortals. New Haven: Yale University Press. ed. Symposium. Thomas. 1975.COURSE MATERIALS Suggested Reading: Aristotle. Aristotle: Categories and De Interpretatione. WI: Dumb Ox Press. New ed. Smith. Ed. New York: Oxford University Press. New ed. 1989 ———. Trans. ———. New York: Penguin. Sprague. David Gallop. Trans. New ed. Beloit. 1982. Aristotle for Everybody: Difficult Thought Made Easy. Ed. NY: State University of New York Press. Plato’s Laches and Charmides. ———. Hackett Publishing Co. 1991. 1997. James G. Republic. Aristotle: The Politics and the Constitution of Athens. Trans.E. New York: Penguin. Roger Crisp. 1995. Seth. J. eds. Trans. NY: State University of New York Press. 2000. The Metaphysics. ———.C. De Anima. Trans. 1974. FL: Florida State University Press. C. The Political Dimensions of Aristotle’s Ethics. 1999. Aquinas. Mortimer J. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.L. New York: Oxford University Press. Tallahassee. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2000. Albany. Xenophon. New York: Simon & Schuster. Trans. Plato.B. Gorgias. 3rd ed. Reeve. R. 3rd rev. Ackrill. Jonathan.

1992. 2003. IA: Harcourt Brace & Co. Richard. Kenneth. Second and Third Period.E. Rubenstein. If Aristotle Ran General Motors. Socrates Cafe: A Fresh Taste of Philosophy. Simpson. Republic of Plato. Plato. Ackrill. Gill. 1981. and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Dark Ages. Essays on Aristotle’s Poetics of Athens. ———.com or by calling Recorded Books at 1-800-636-3399.) Philosophical Issues in Aristotle’s Biology. Phillips. Tides of War: A Novel of Alcibiades and the Peloponnesian War. 1995. Princeton: Princeton University Press. and Mary Louise Gill. Sir David and J. 69 . Lanham. New York: Pantheon Books. 2002. Paul. Gotthelf. Ithaca. NC: University of North Carolina Press. Trans. Plato: the Dialogues. Republic. Aristotle. 1989.W. Peter L. Muslims. P. Trans. Pressfield. First Period. New York: Random House. New York: Routledge. 1994. 1999. Rorty. 1966. 1998. The Virtue of Philosophy: An Interpretation of Plato’s Charmides. Aristotle’s Children: How Christians. Commentary on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Witt. Beginnings of Philosophy in Greece. Charlotte. Aristotle and His Modern Critics: The Uses of Tragedy in the Nontragic Vision. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Dubuque. Christopher. New York: Henry Holt & Co. 2003. Ross. New York: Routledge. Thomas V. Unity. Allan and James G. Drew A. 1969. NY: Cornell University Press. PA: University of Scranton Press. The Cambridge Companion to Greek Tragedy.L. Allan Bloom. Friedländer. 1991. David Charles. 1964. New York: Pantheon Books. Norton & Co. MA: Cambridge University Press. Scranton. Madigan. Schofield. Hyland. Substance and Essence in Aristotle: An Interpretation of Metaphysics VII–IX. Richard E. New York: W. Cambridge. 2001. Amelie O. These books are available online through www. New York: Basic Books. 1992. 6th ed. MD: University Press of America. Identity and Explanation in Aristotle’s Metaphysics. Mary Louise..COURSE MATERIALS Other Books of Interest (continued): Easterling.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chapel Hill. Desmond Lee. OH: Ohio State University Press. Binghamton. ———. 1991. Sophrosyne: Self-Knowledge and Self-Restraint in Greek Literature. Gotshalk. New York: Penguin . Plato: the Dialogues. 2000. Telford. Scaltsas. Patrick. Lennox (eds. Columbus. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1999. A Philosophical Commentary on the Politics of Aristotle. Helen. Steven. Morris. NY: Institute of Global Cultural Studies. Saving the City: Philosopher-Kings and other Classical Paradigms. Theodore. 1987. 2nd ed. Ithaca. 1997. Aristotle on Substance: The Paradox of Unity. North. 1998. NY: Cornell University Press.modernscholar. Malcolm..