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The Nicomachean Ethics
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Lia | 522 comments Mod
It is sometimes said that Aristotle picks out the virtues by attending to “what people say” or commonly think (the so-called endoxa), and that his account of the virtues is conventional and even conservative as a result. However, Aristotle does not proceed at this point in that way; he does not canvass ordinary opinion or the views of prior philosophers such as Plato.20 Rather, his procedure is to distinguish parts of the soul, on the supposition that, if happiness is, more precisely, an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue (see the marked emphasis at I.13, 1102a13–17), then distinctions in virtue may be marked out corresponding to distinctions among parts of the soul.

The first such distinction he draws, and which he presents in I.13, is that between “the part of the soul possessing logos” and “the alogon part of the soul” (see De Anima 432a26).21 This yields the distinction between “dianoetic virtues” and “character virtues.” Dianoetic virtues are sometimes called “intellectual virtues,” a phrase which we easily understand in the sense of “virtues of thought” or “virtues of thinking,” and yet Aristotle’s meaning is rather that these are virtues of the dianoetic part of the soul (the part possessing logos). Similarly, the phrase “virtues of character” tends to obscure Aristotle’s meaning – although Aristotle is sensitive to a similar difficulty in Greek, and therefore he gives a defense of the use of the corresponding term (II.1, 1103a16–18). Rather, “virtues of character” are more precisely “virtues of the striving part of the soul” – the part of the soul which does not merely think (and thinking, he says, cannot move anything, vI.2, 1139a34–35), but which is capable of moving us to action because it strives after things – which Aristotle refers to as “the part which is such as to have sense-desire and is such as generally to strive” (I.13, 1102b30).The first such distinction he draws, and which he presents in I.13, is that between “the part of the soul possessing logos” and “the alogon part of the soul” (see De Anima 432a26).21 This yields the distinction between “dianoetic virtues” and “character virtues.” Dianoetic virtues are sometimes called “intellectual virtues,” a phrase which we easily understand in the sense of “virtues of thought” or “virtues of thinking,” and yet Aristotle’s meaning is rather that these are virtues of the dianoetic part of the soul (the part possessing logos). Similarly, the phrase “virtues of character” tends to obscure Aristotle’s meaning – although Aristotle is sensitive to a similar difficulty in Greek, and therefore he gives a defense of the use of the corresponding term (II.1, 1103a16–18). Rather, “virtues of character” are more precisely “virtues of the striving part of the soul” – the part of the soul which does not merely think (and thinking, he says, cannot move anything, vI.2, 1139a34–35), but which is capable of moving us to action because it strives after things – which Aristotle refers to as “the part which is such as to have sense-desire and is such as generally to strive” (I.13, 1102b30)




Keywords: “They,” Parts of the Soul, Dianoetic Virtues

Source: On the unity of the Nicomachean Ethics, Michael Pakaluk


message 2: by Lia (new) - added it

Lia | 522 comments Mod
This is about On the Soul (de An.)

Aristotle approaches the subject dialectically, in his characteristic fashion. He begins by surveying the ‘reputable views’ (endoxa) that have been held on the topic, to see where there are disagreements as well as consensus, and then teases out various ‘puzzles’ (aporiai), which set the agenda for his subsequent discussion. His aim is to recover what is right in each position in a way that also shows how to resolve the difficulties they face, and he later refers back to these disagreements at various points in the treatise to show how his own theory provides a more adequate solution

Source: Alexander of Aphrodisias: On the Soul


message 3: by Lia (new) - added it

Lia | 522 comments Mod
I might move this one to a stand-alone thread on Aristotle's dialectic if I end up focusing on that topic for a bit. Depending on how masochistic I feel...

Source: Justice in the Nicomachean Ethics Book V | Hallvard Fossheim



[…] what is often known as Aristotle’s dialectical method. As is well known, an initial stage in this process is tithenai ta phainomena, which includes setting out the relevant endoxa for investigation. And as with the earlier discussions, says Aristotle, in the case of justice, too, our first task is to present those endoxa. Thus, he will first present the reputed and common opinions on the matter; that is, we should not take the material which follows as his own conclusions.

This makes it reasonable to take the immediately following reports of what “everyone” means in speaking of justice, quoted above, as something which is supposed to perform that preparatory task, rather than the one of giving us Aristotle’s final word on the matter.



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