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Download Aristotle's Ethics by James Urmson PDF

By James Urmson

Aristotle's moral writings are one of the world's maximum, yet are simply misunderstood by means of the green. Professor Urmson, after 50 years of analysis, offers a transparent account of the most doctrines in an simply intelligible means and with no residing on concerns of regularly scholarly curiosity.

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Example text

The field of reason, Aristotle says, is truth. Pure theoretical reason is concerned with truth for its own sake. Aristotle conceives of it as a deductive system. We grasp certain basic truths immediately, such as the principle that a proposition and 80 The Excellences of Intelligence its contradictory cannot both be true; from them we deduce further truths. This is the procedure from first principles that Aristotle regards as providing true knowledge. Other sorts of theoretical reasoning, such as that to first principles, which he has said must be his method in the Ethics (1095b 3 - 4 ) , are regarded as no more than provisional or preliminary.

We might as well treat the coward as unjust since he aims at an unfair share of safety; we might in this way be able to reduce all defects of character to greed. If Aristotle wishes to make greed an example of a defect of character he will have to dissociate it from his particular justice. He will have to take some neutral emotion, perhaps called possessiveness or acquisitiveness, of which greed would be the excess. But now the problem will be how to find a plausible defect or deficiency, for being willing to forgo that to which you have a right is thought by Aristotle to be a sign of liberality or even magnificence.

It is concerned with a restricted range of pleasures, of which preeminent examples are those of eating, drinking and sex. It is a mean between self-indulgence on the one hand and an insensitivity to such pleasures which he considers to be very rare and therefore discusses very little. It is certainly rare, it is absurd to call it a vice, but Aristotle is surely right in thinking that there is something wrong with the person who does not enjoy even the sober meals that are required to maintain health and strength.

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