Book Vii Of The Nichomachean Ethics By Aristotle

3234 words - 13 pages

Book VII of the Nichomachean Ethics by Aristotle


In book seven of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle sets out his theory of akrasia, or weakness of will. Aristotle attempts to explain both how such actions are possible (contra Socrates), and how we can dissolve the puzzles (aporiai) generated by our most important (kurios) commonly held beliefs, which arise in response to the actions of the incontinent person. This paper will review book VII of the Nichomachean Ethics (EN), and attempt to resolve some of the remaining questions left open by Aristotle’s critique.

According to Aristotle, ethika is not an exact (akribes) science, for it only provides “usual” truths (hos epi to polu), or those that are true for most, but not all, cases. Ethics is a practical discipline, which depends on the prudent person to make competent decisions with respect to various particular cases; unsurprisingly, it would be difficult (if not impossible) to determine any invariant rules of application for every ethical situation. Accordingly, Aristotle consults the opinions of the common majority as an initial starting point from which to proceed in ethical study. The beliefs of the hoi polloi are revisable, however, and in the case of incontinence, we shall see that Aristotle cannot resolve all of the puzzles resulting from them.

The format of this paper will proceed as follows. First, we will attempt a rough description of Aristotle’s conception of incontinence. Next, we will survey the most salient puzzles with which he is concerned. Subsequently, we will attempt to resolve any remaining questions concerning the plausibility of Aristotle’s theory.

Section One

Aristotle’s conception of incontinence is often defined in relation to its contrary continence. Whereas the continent person follows his rational deliberation and acts accordingly, the incontinent person abandons it (prohairesis) and instead acts according to his nonrational desires. Incontinence, basically, is when a person knows (or perhaps merely believes) that he or she ought to do x, since x is the decision formed from a rational desire for some good end, but instead does y. For example, consider a case in which one believes that eating a healthy meal is desirable and good as an end in itself, resulting in the decision that to partake of the healthy meal in front of oneself is the best way to achieve that end. However, imagine that right next to the healthy meal is a large plate of various sweets and chocolates, the eating of which appeals only to one’s appetite or nonrational desires. According to Aristotle, the continent man will have the nonrational desire to eat the plate of sweets, but will resist it and instead proceed to eat the healthy meal. The incontinent man, however, will relinquish his decision and succumb to his nonrational desire to indulge himself (1145b9-14).

The Puzzles of Incontinence

As alluded to earlier, one...

Find Another Essay On Book VII of the Nichomachean Ethics by Aristotle

Nicomacean Ethics by Aristotle Essay

1472 words - 6 pages contemplating your actions, I have rid myself of any burden that may have been associated with acting too hastily. By eliminating burden, I have lived up to Aristotle's moral standards. What's left is a new feeling of virtue and morality, one that I have is one that I hope to continue to have through all of my future decisions.Works CitedChaffee, John. Thinking Critically "Make morality a priority". Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004.Aristotle. "Nicomachean Ethics" Online Resource, BMCC. Date Unknown.

Examining the Ethics of Plato and Aristotle

1051 words - 4 pages This essay will be examining the ethics of Plato (428-347 BCE) and Aristotle (384-322 B.C). I will firstly attempt to summarise the five fundamental concepts of Plato and Aristotle before providing my own opinion and view on their ethics. I will concentrate on their theories on the good life as a life of justice, censorship, knowledge and the good life. I will first examine Plato’s ethics. Plato was a philosopher who was both a rationalist

An Analysis of Nichomachean Ethics An exercise in self denial

896 words - 4 pages purpose as happiness by explaining the workings of a soul. He divides into two sections one rational and the other bestial. After he does this he then proceeds to continue dividing the souls pieces into subdivisions. He then mentions a section called virtue.Virtue is defined as a path of increased wisdom and ethics. He explains that ethics come from the practice of restraint and intentional virtue. He then explains that all knowledge is derived

The Allegory of the Cave, from Book VII of Plato's Republic

958 words - 4 pages The cave, symbolic of the mother's womb, is the source of life and death. In “The Allegory of the Cave”, from Book VII of Plato’s Republic, the theme of the cycle of life and the transition from the unborn to the deceased is representative of the cycle of entry and exit from the cave. If based upon this idea, one can conclude that the chains are symbolic of the umbilical cord. This concept reflects the Greek values of reproduction, humanism

The Virtue of Generosity by Aristotle

1408 words - 6 pages In Nicomachean Ethics, generosity is the third virtue Aristotle examines. He directly addresses the idea of generosity to be the mean of wealth, meaning anything whose worth is measured by money. As presented by Aristotle, generosity is the intermediate of wastefulness and ungenerosity, wastefulness being the excess and ungenerosity being the deficiency. This virtue however, does not come naturally; generosity can arise through habit and takes

The elements of a tragedy by Aristotle.

1456 words - 6 pages Aristotle says tragedy must obtain 6 elements and the play must have unity of time, place and action. Those elements are plot, character, diction, thought, spectacle, and song. The character in the elements should be a superhuman, above the average person. He has to have a tragic flaw and have both virtue and vice - be both virtuous and villainous. The unity in a tragedy is based on: Time- the action of the play should occur within the span of a

"Aristotle on Business Ethics" is a short essay on the ideas of Aristotle and how they may apply to the business ethics which we hold today.

1023 words - 4 pages business ethics because it is simply one's interaction with money-making. It is not unusual for such business-involved individuals to admit that the decisions made by he or she are based on benefits, especially profit. For the great philosopher, Aristotle, benefits in business do not equate to happiness.The ideal life is one which is full of happiness. People today are living under the false impression that happiness may be achieved through wealth

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act

1811 words - 7 pages Supreme Court ruled that health insurance for employees providing sickness and accident benefits for any disability but those arising as a result of pregnancy did not constitute sex discrimination under Title VII ( Congress amended Title VII in 1978 by passing the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and made it clear that discrimination based on pregnancy is unlawful sex discrimination. This legislation reversed the Supreme Court's Gilbert

The Biography of Aristotle

3762 words - 15 pages , apparent sincerity, but great personal ambition. Aristotle was a student in the Academy during the twenty years he remained in Athens. His remarkable intellectual powers led Plato to call him the "Mind of the School."After the death of his teacher, Aristotle, accompanied by Xenocrates, went to the court of Hermias, lord of Atarneus, whose sister he afterward married. When Aristotle was forty years old, Philip of Macedon engaged him as tutor for

Comparative essay describing the ethics of Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, and Emmanuel Levinas.

893 words - 4 pages Aristotle because likewise, he believed that it is ideal for all people to act in an ethical manner by using reason. However, unlike Aristotle, Kant believed one must act ethically as an individual autonomy for the good of society. He said that one must use reason and free will to carry out one's duty and moral obligation to do good. He stressed the concept of not expecting to gain anything in return while performing ethical tasks-- even though one

Intellectual Goodness in The Way of Reasons by Aristotle

1209 words - 5 pages Intellectual Goodness in The Way of Reasons by Aristotle In the reading “The Way of Reason” Aristotle tries to define the good that is within mankind. He moves through a variety of exercises that narrow down and simplify the ideas that man is inherently good and that his tendency for it is deliberate and pre-destined. He looks at different activities, then breaks them down and finds the part that leads toward the final happiness. He

Similar Essays

Aristotle And The Book Of Nicomanchean Ethics

2543 words - 11 pages right person, but it is not for everyone, and he says it is not easy. He says goodness is altruistically hard to find. Thus, according to Aristotle, “It is difficult to live the virtuous life primarily because it is often difficult to find the proper mean between the extremes.” Voluntary and Involuntary actions. As I reference Book III of Nichomachean Ethics, the terms ‘voluntary’ and ‘involuntary’ are used with the indication to the moment of

Aristotle And The Book Of Nicomanchean Ethics

1506 words - 6 pages Aristotle and the Book of Nicomanchean Ethics In Book I of Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle states that the ultimate human goal or end is happiness. Aristotle describes the steps required for humans to obtain happiness. Aristotle states that activity is an important requirement of happiness. He states that a happy person cannot be inactive. He then goes on to say that living a life of virtue is something pleasurable in itself. The virtuous

Nichomachean Ethics By Aristotle: Arguments On Courage, Justice, And Pseudo Courage.

1972 words - 8 pages In his dissertation Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle discusses his views of an ethically virtuous person. He asserts three conditions exist for the moral agent to attain ethical virtue. First, the moral agent must "have knowledge." Aristotle does not make it clear whether he means such knowledge as either knowledge of the elements of a situation or universal moral knowledge. Most likely, Aristotle means knowledge of both forms, so the moral agent

Nicomachean Ethics By Aristotle Essay

1510 words - 6 pages that our morals and ethical beliefs belong to our soul alone and it is learned from within, rather than being taught by one’s society. One of Aristotle’s most influential works, Nicomachean Ethics, lays claim that there is an actual, material definition of what happiness is and ways one may possibly attain the greatest good in life, which is ultimately to be happy. Furthermore, Aristotle distinguishes that there is a difference between higher and