Jared's Reviews > Nicomachean Ethics

Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle
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Oct 01, 2011

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Read in October, 2011

Before I really go into this review, I want to note that it is a weird thing to give a classic like Aristotle's ethics a rating based on stars. Any book that has survived as long as Aristotle's Ethics automatically has the best rating applied to it "classic". An author can only hope and dream that their writing may reach such status.
When reviewing ancient writing I have to keep a couple different things in mind. One thing I must keep in mind is the translation. This translation seemed to be more on the form literal side, so it ended up being fairly challenging to read. A lot of times the translator just left in the original Greek word (which fortunately I know a little Greek so it worked out for me) which means that there would be a few spots where many readers would not even know what the word sounds like. The explanatory note section in the back was not set up in a helpful way. You go to the notes and then it references the page, and explains it. I would have preferred a foot note system with explanations at the bottom of the page. Because of these difficulties I recommend a different translation of Aristotle's ethics.
What struck me about Aristotle's Ethics was how much of it just seemed like common sense to me. And I am still not sure whether a lot of this actually is common sense or it seems like common sense because of the impact Aristotle has had on western culture. I imagine it is a bit of both. I liked Aristotle's golden mean I think it works for everyday situations. The basic idea is that you want to behave in between two extremes. For instance you can be a coward on one extreme and on the other extreme you can be reckless and stupid, but in the middle is courage. I at first worried that his golden mean would keep soldiers from being brave, and self sacrificial. But then I realized that if a soldier is not brave and fearless they are cowardly. So the golden mean can shift to being really far on the no guts or glory in a war, and in peace time switches towards the no unnecessary risk. Overall it seems to work.
A lot of the other things Aristotle speaks on seems to be more psychological then philosophical. A lot of what he says describes how men act. He speaks on lending, and friendship and usually describes how men act towards one another. These were the most fun tidbits to read because he had an interesting way of describing human nature.
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message 1: by Lilo (new)

Lilo Forget about the rating system. It doesn't work. How can you compare a chick-lit book to Goethe's Faust, or a travel memoir to Grapes of Wrath? You can't. There should be rating separate rating systems for separate genres.


message 2: by Lilo (new)

Lilo Forget about the rating system. It doesn't work. How can you compare a chick-lit book to Goethe's Faust, or a travel memoir to Grapes of Wrath? You can't. There should beseparate rating systems for separate genres.


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