Aristotle:  Excerpts from the Nichomachean Ethics and from Politics.  The excerpts cover 22 pages.  These reading notes refer to the page and, on a particular page, other numbering that may guide you.  


1.        pp. 1-2, up to section “12”—How are the ends of the city connected to the ends of the individual?  Is happiness part of a good life?  What helps us get there, what keeps us away from it? 

2.        p. 2, starting at section “12,” to p. 4, up to “2”—How does Aristotle introduce his concern with the soul?  How is it a part of the good life? Notice his claim that habits matter.  This will appear at critical points later. 

3.        p. 4, starting at “2” (which is Bk IV, Ch. 2) up to p. 5, end of 1st column—How are rich and poor people different when it comes to the good life? 

4.        p. 5, middle column—What is justice?  Compare it to Plato’s definition. 

5.        p. 5, at “Book VI,” to end of p. 6—Notice there are distinct capacities of the soul.  How does knowledge fit into this?  What kind of knowledge confers wisdom?  Again, compare this to Plato. 

6.        p. 7 at Book VIII, up to section “10”—Friendship is the glue that holds cities together.  What is a friend?  What doe friends do to our lives? 

7.        p. 7, at section “10,” up to p. 8, up to section “9”—Here A. enters into a discussion of political systems, a topic developed later in the Politics.  How does this classification compare to Plato’s?  Why do you suppose he is doing this?  Note also the comments about women in this section.  Why would he even ask if it is virtuous for women to inherit property? 

8.        p. 8, section “9,” through all of p. 9—notice the structure of the argument here.  Knowledge is instrumental.  We all have moral capabilities, that can be developed by certain means.  Political science, like other areas of study, requires experience.  Why do we learn?  Notice the importance of cultivating the right habits.  Also notice that he does not answer the question of how we cultivate the right habits.  For that, we need to study politics.  Keep in mind that connection between the N. Ethics and the Politics.



9.        p. 10, through the second column on p.12— In chapters 1 and 2, note his account of how city states are constituted, and how he defines human beings.  An expansion of this idea is offered in chapter 5, where he explains natural hierarchies.  What all occurs in natural hierarchies, according to Aristotle?   What is the account of slavery?  This will show up again in the course. 

10. p. 12, starting at “Book III”— In Book III we get an account of citizens.  In chapter 1 he defines a citizen.  What is it?  In chapter 4 (middle of p. 13) he connects the excellence of a citizen to a constitution.  Why this connection?  Toward the end of chapter 4 he adds more comments comparing men and women.  Please not his method of argument here. 

11. p. 15— In chapters 6, 7 and 8 A. describes constitutions.  What is a constitution?  What are the types of constitutions?  Note the role of interest in chapter 7. 

12. p. 16, at “Bk IV, Chapter 9”— Aristotle considers the constitutional form called a polity.  What is that?  Notice also in chapter 9 his discussion of the importance of the mean.  This is a central idea for Aristotle.  One modern, liberal way to summarize this argument is to claim Aristotle extols the virtues of a middle class (continuing up to p. 18, section that ends at “Book VII.”). 

13. p. 18— In Book VII A. brings together several themes.  In chapter 1, what is the role of the soul in the good life?  What does a happy city state look like? 

14. p. 18— At the start of chapter 2, what is his claim about levels of analysis?  At the end of chapter 2 is his account of the role of the military in a city state.  What is it? 

15. p. 19, starting at “Chapter 3”— Aristotle discusses the pursuit of the best life.  What is the best life?  What does it mean to be happy?  The argument is continued through “Chapter 13,” on p. 20 continuing on to p. 21.

16. Chapter 13 also brings us back to the issues raised at the end of the N. Ethics.  Given that he has answered most of the questions about constitutions, here he asks how, in practical terms, we cultivate the excellence necessary for the best life and for happiness.  How do we do that?  What is the role of education in building the virtues in a person? 

17. The rest of your excerpts deal with the contents of education, and how that leads to creation of virtuous people.

18. Has Aristotle adequately addressed the issues raised in the N. Ethics?