Reading instruction :
As noted above, what we know of Aristotle (i.e. chapter 9- pp. 182 to 220) is from his notes. In chapter 9, the stuff on formal logic is not as important as the stuff about causality, and then moral psychology. The reason for this is that his view of causality may sound familiar, even if false. Of course, it is still propounded by various religions, typically disregarding modern science. However, as we know since Darwin, natural events have no real teleology but only undergo slow changes. In Aristotlean terms, this is what he called efficient causality. About moral psychology, his views coincide with philosophers such as Alistair Macintyre and Martha Nussbaum, as well as many social psychologists. So his view of moral psychology (e.g. the stuff that constitutes virtue and happiness) should also sound quite familiar. But actually, Aristotle not only propounds a theory of how we are morally motivated to act, and of the virtues we develop, but he also identifies these things with morality itself.
Just as with Socrates and Plato, Shields gives a great summary of Aristotle in Ancient Philosophy.
Aristotle is famous for his virtue ethics, which is still popular today. To see why this is, we can turn to Aristotle himself. Although he might be dull to read- what we call his books are actually his lecture notes- he is still easy to read. So here is his Nicomachean Ethics, albeit in an older translation. In all its essentials, his virtue ethics is contained in chapters ( 1 and 2. So here that is.)
In this second week, you have done a lot of reading. Aristotle can be difficult to read, even in summary. In this short essay, answer just one of the following questions:
1. When it comes to causation, Aristotle mentions 4 kinds of causation. Scientists today, actually, would only mention efficient causes. What are these formal and final causes, respectively? Give your own examples. Do these kinds of causation exist at all?
2. Aristotle insists that happiness is only produced by developing certain virtues. What is a virtue, exactly? Why does he think specific virtues are necessary to be happy? Do you agree, or not?
3. Aristotle’s view of the soul is really not the Christian one. What is his view of the soul? What survives death? What would this survival be like? Explain.
As always, remember to answer the question you choose specifically, and so, do not give general answers. What are the arguments?
Reading instruction :