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Back to Unedited Philosophy Quotes and Ramblings about Intequinism.

Book Title: Nicomachean Ethics

Author: Aristotle

Editor: Kaufman, William

Translator: D.P. Chase

Publisher: Dover

Place: Mineola, New York

Year: 1998


28 October 2016

"Virtue then is assumed to be that habit which is such, in relation to pleasures and pains, as to effect the best results, and Vice the contrary." (Aristotle 1998: 23) This view of Aristotle makes sense if it is regarded as a view of leaders and followers, over the long term, because in the long term virtues cause pleasures for all of the whole. This view of Aristotle however has not universal value, because virtues and vices, can be interpreted as, basically, territorial, time based, positions, which cause mandatory pleasures and pains, dependent on characteristics of powerful people. Whether the powerful are good or evil will determine types of 'virtues' and 'vices' in each area and each time, because if people do not agree with the view of the good or evil powerful group, "vice" will cause pain, and "vice" will be the opposite of good or evil.

Aristotle wrote, "adultery, theft and homicide" are "in themselves bad" and should not be considered with regard to a mean. (Aristotle 1998: 28)

"In respect of truth: The man who is in the mean state we will call Truthful, and his state Truthfulness, and as to the disguise of truth, if it be on the side of exaggeration, Braggadocia, and him that has it a Braggdocio; if on that of diminution, Reserve and Reserved shall be the terms." (Aristotle 1998: 30)


29 October 2016

"For there are fair and pleasant things peculiar to, and so varying with, each state; and perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic of the good man is his seeing the truth in every instance, he being, in fact, the rule and measure of these matters.

The multitude of men seem to be deceived by reason of pleasure, because though it is not really a good it impresses their minds with notions of goodness, so they choose what is pleasant as good and avoid pain as an evil." (Aristotle 1998: 42)

Why did Aristotle focus on "the good man", instead of good men?


31 October 2016

"Now Justice and Injustice do seem to be used respectively in many senses, but, because the line of demarcation between these is very fine and minute, it commonly escapes notice that they are thus used, and it is not plain and manifest as where the various significations of terms are widely different: for in these last the visible difference is great; for instance the word κλεις used equivocally to denote the bone which is under the neck of animals and the instrument with which people close doors." (Aristotle 1998: 77)

In Augustine's City of God he wrote about an Italian "goddess", who invented hinges whose name was used for the Latin word for hinges.

Augustine mentions many "gods" and "goddesses" of the pagans relevant at everyday life with regard to sowing, harvesting, growing of the crops and housing. He wrote for example: "Each man appoints one door-keeper for his house and that one, being a man is enough. But the Romans appointed three gods; Forculus to guard the doors (fores); Cardea the hinges (cardo); Limentinus the threshold (limen)." (Augustine 2003:143-145) Read together with Socrates's view that gods have good ideas, it could mean that Accounting FOR ideas was much more prevalent during the pagan era. Credit was given for creative thinking and people were acknowledged for new ideas, which added value to living conditions of society. Probably the idolatrous credit also caused jealousy amongst people and as things goes with the 'theft' of ideas; troubles attributed to creative thinking and Caiaphas syndrome.

"11. The many gods identified by the learned with Jupiter.

So let them make what claims they like in their scientific theories and arguments." It seems from Augustine's explanations that the names of "gods" and "goddesses" were used similar to words describing concepts in a scientific way. (Augustine 2003:148-149) The statements of Augustine imply that "gods" and "goddesses" were relevant at science for the pagans. Currently the Accounting for ideas of intequinism posits that the rise of the Roman empire was partly due to credit given to gods and goddesses becaue of their good ideas, albeit irrationally with shrines and temples, whilst espousing idolatry. According to Euhemerus they were 'only' human. The feminine and masculine form of nouns in Latin probably originated from the practice. It seems however that gods and goddesses who were 'only' human had only the idea Truth above them and not the idea Love, because the sophists helped to form the idea Love (social contract theory).


"The Laws too give directions on all points, aiming either at the common good of all, or that of the best, or that of those in power (taking for the standard real goodness or adopting some other estimate); in one way we mean by Just, those things which are apt to produce and preserve happiness and its ingredients for the social community." (Aristotle 1998: 77)

"Now this Justice is in fact perfect Virtue, yet not simply so but as exercised towards one's neighbour: and for this reason Justice is thought oftentimes to be the best of the Virtues, and "neither Hesper nor the Morning-star So worthy of our admiration:" and in a proverbial saying we express the same; "All virtue is in Justice comprehended." And it is in a special sense perfect Virtue because it is the practice of perfect Virtue. And perfect it is because he that has it is able to practise his virtue towards his neighbour and not merely on himself; I mean there are many who can practise virtue in the regulation of their own personal conduct who are wholly unable to do it in transactions with their neighbour. And for this reason that saying of Bias is thought to be a good one, "Rule will show what a man is;" for he who bears Rule is necessarily in contact with others, i.e. in a community. (Aristotle 1998: 78)


1 November 2016

"What knowledge is is plain from the following considerations, if one is to speak accurately instead of being led away by resemblances. We all conceive that what we strictly speaking know cannot be otherwise than it is, because as to those things which can be otherwise than they are we are uncertain whether they are or are not the moment they cease to be within the sphere of our actual observation.

So then, whatever comes within the range of Knowledge is by necessity, and therefore eternal (because all things are so which exist necessarily), and all eternal things are without beginning and indestructible.

Again, all Knowledge is thought to be capable of being taught, and what becomes within its range capable of being learned. And all teaching is based upon previous knowledge (a statement you will find in the Analytics also); for there are two ways of teaching, by Syllogism and by Induction. In fact, Induction is the source of universal propositions, and Syllogism reasons from these universals. Syllogism then may reason from principles which cannot be themselves proved Syllogistically; and therefore must be proved by Induction.

So Knowledge is "a state or mental faculty apt to demonstrate syllogistically," etc., as in the Analytics: because a man, strictly and properly speaking, knows, when he establishes his conclusion in a certain way and the principles are known to him: for if they are not better known to him then the conclusion such knowledge as he has will be merely accidental.

Let thus much be accepted as a definition of Knowledge.

Matter which may exist otherwise than it actually does in any given case (commonly called Contingent) is of two kinds, that which is the object of Making, and that which is the object of Doing, now Making and Doing are two different things (as we show in the exoteric treatise), and so that state of mind, conjoined with Reason, which is apt to Do, as distinct from that also conjoined with Reason, which is apt to Make: and for this reason they are not included one by the other, that is, Doing is not Making, nor Making Doing. Now as Architecture is an Art, and is the same as "a certain state of mind, conjoined with Reason, which is apt to Make," and as there is no Art which is not such a state, nor any such state which is not an Art, Art, in its strict and proper sense, must be "a state of mind, conjoined with true Reason, apt to Make."

Now all Art has to do with production, and contrivance, and seeing how any of those things may be produced which may either be or not be, and the origination of which rests with the maker and not with the thing made.

And, so neither things which exist or come into being necessarily, nor things in the way of nature, come under the province of Art, because these are self-originating. And since Making and Doing are distinct, Art must be concerned with the former and not the latter. And in a certain sense Art and Fortune are concerned with the same things, as Agathon says by the way, "Art Fortune loves, and is of her beloved."

So Art, as has been stated, is "a certain state of mind, apt to Make, conjoined with true Reason;" its absence, on the contrary, is the same state conjoined with false Reason, and both are employed upon Contingent matter.

As for Practical Wisdom, we shall ascertain its nature by examining to what kind of persons we in common language ascribe it.

It is thought then to be the property of the Practically Wise man to be able to deliberate well respecting what is good and expedient for himself, not in any definite line, as what is conducive to health or strength, but to living well. ... Practical Wisdom cannot be Knowledge nor Art". (Aristotle 1998: 100-102)

This statement about "Knowledge" contradicts the statement in Penguin's Metaphysics, because there, Aristotle wrote in parenthesis that the sign of a knowledgeable man is he knows how to deceive.

"It remains then that it must be "a state of mind true, conjoined with Reason, and apt to Do, having for its object those things which are good or bad for Man:" because of Making something beyond itself is always the object, but cannot be of Doing because the very well-doing is in itself an End.

For this reason we think Pericles and men of that stamp to be Practically Wise, because they can see what is good for themselves and for men in general, and we also think those to be such who are skilled in domestic management or civil government." (Aristotle 1998: 102) Aristotle's statement here is not clear because it is not clear what "mind true [making], conjoined, with Reason and apt to Do [doing]" is. Also, why statesmen are therefore called "Practically Wise", is not clear.

".. because Vice distorts the moral vision and causes men to be deceived in respect of practical principles.

It is clear, therefore, that a man cannot be a Practically-Wise, without being a good, man." (Aristotle 1998: 111) It is not clear what Aristotle means here, because it is not clear what his definition of "good" is. It seems however if he equates goodness with practice in politics.


2 November 2016

"And so they are blamed, whosoever in spite of Reason are mastered by, that is pursue, any object, though in its nature noble and good; they, for instance, who are more earnest than they should be respecting honour, or their children or parents; not but what these are good objects and men are praised for being earnest about them: but still they admit of excess; for instance, if any one, as Niobe did, should fight even against the gods, or feel towards his father as Satyrus, who got therefrom the nickname of  ϕιλοπατωρ, because he was thought to be very foolish." (Aristotle 1998: 123)

"To consider the subject of Pleasure and Pain falls within the province of the Social-Science Philosopher, since he it is who has to fix the Master-End which is to guide us in dominating any object absolute evil or good." (Aristotle 1998: 132)

"All cases of Communion are parts, so to say, of the great Social one, since in them men associate with a view to some advantage and to procure some of those things which are needful for life, and the great Social Communion is thought originally to have been associated and to continue for the sake of some advantage: this being the point at which legislators aim, affirming that to be just which is generally expedient.

All the other cases of Communion aim at advantage in particular points; the crew of a vessel at that which is to result from the voyage which is undertaken with a view to making money, or some such object; comrades in war at that which is to result from the war, grasping either at wealth or victory, or it may be a political position; and those of the same tribe, or Demus, in like manner.

Some of them are thought to be formed for pleasure's sake, those, for instance of bacchanals or club-fellows, which are with a view to Sacrifice or merely company. But all these seem to be ranged under the great Social one, inasmuch as the aim of this is, not merely the expediency of the moment but, for life and at all times, with a view to which the members of the institute sacrifice and their attendant assemblies, to render honour to the gods and procure for themselves respite from toil combined with pleasure. For it appears that sacrifices and religious assemblies in old times were made as a kind of first-fruits after the ingathering of the crops, because at such seasons they had most leisure.

So then it appears that all the instances of Communion are parts of the great Social one: and corresponding Friendship will follow upon such Communions." (Aristotle 1998: 149)

The above three quotes are indications of Aristotle's Caiaphas syndrome. His philosophy about means imply that his good men will not stay constant, because as morals of society change, means also changes. On the other hand he wrote that stasis is good, therefor with regard to his means and stasis a contradiction exists. He considered "gods" above the perfect ideas Truth (correspondence and coherence) and Love (social contract theory). Therefore, if "the gods" instructed someone to lie or break the social contract for the benefit of "the gods" or "the gods'" view for society, Aristotle would probably have argued that it was the right thing to do. In my view Aristotle could also have reasoned that the men, best at choosing means, were 'Gods' and therefore should place themselves above the ideas Truth and Love, because he motivated guidance to "us in dominating any object absolute evil or good", with his motivation for means between absolutes and nothingness.

"The fact that all animals, brute and human alike, pursue Pleasure, is some presumption of its being in a sense the Chief Good." (Aristotle 1998: 135) "It is obvious that if there be any whose nature is simple and not complex, to such a being the same course of acting will always be the most pleasurable. For this reason it is that the Divinity feels Pleasure which is always one, i.e. simple: not motion merely but also motionless acts, and Pleasure resides rather in the absence than in the presence of motion. (Aristotle 1998: 137)

Socrates regarded motion as good and stasis as evil because he said the name-giver (God) "reviles" stasis. Aristotle self feels "the Divinity feels pleasure which is always one" and Aristotle chose stasis over movement. He also wrote pain is evil.

"The reason why the Poet's dictum "change is of all things most pleasant" is true, is "a baseness in our blood;" for as the bad man is easily changeable, bad must be also the nature that craves change, i.e. it is neither simple nor good.

We have now said our say about Self-Control and its opposite; and about Pleasure and Pain. What each is, and how the one set is good the other bad." (Aristotle 1998: 137)

"And that equality is thus requisite is plainly shown by the occurrence of a great difference of goodness or badness, or prosperity, or something else: for in this case, people are not any longer friends, nay they do not even feel that they ought to be. The clearest illustration is perhaps the case of the gods, because they are most superior in all good things. It is obvious too, in the case of kings, for they who are greatly their inferiors do not feel entitled to be friends to them, nor do people very insignificant to be friends to those of very high excellence or wisdom. Of course, in such cases it is out of the question to attempt to define up to what point they may continue friends: for you may remove many points of agreement and the Friendship last nevertheless; but when one of the parties is very separated (as god from men), it cannot continue any longer.

This has given room for a doubt, whether friends do really wish to their friends the very highest goods, as that they may be gods: because, in case the wish were accomplished, they would no longer have them for friends, nor in fact would they have the good things they had, because friends are good things." (Aristotle 1998: 147)


15 November 2016

"And that the Perfect Happiness must be a kind of Contemplative Working may appear also from the following consideration: our conception of the gods is that they are above all blessed and happy: now what kind of Moral actions are we to attribute to them: those of justice? nay, will they not be set in a ridiculous light if represented as forming contracts, and restoring deposits, and so on? well then shall we picture them performing brave actions, withstanding objects of fear and meeting dangers, because it is noble to do so? or liberal ones? but to whom shall they be giving? and further, it is absurd to think they have money or anything of the kind. And as for actions of perfected self-mastery, what can theirs be? would it not be a degrading praise that they have no bad desires? In short, if one followed the subject into all details all the circumstances connected with Moral actions would appear trivial and unworthy of gods." (Aristotle 1998: 193)

"Of course, the best thing would be that there should be a right Public System and that we should be able to carry it out: but, since as a public matter those points are neglected, the duty would seem to devolve upon each individual to contribute to the cause of Virtue with his own children and friends, or at least to make this his aim and purpose: and this, it would seem, from what has been said, he will be best able to do by making a Legislator of himself: since all public systems, it is plain, are formed by the instrumentality of laws and those are good which are formed by that of good laws: whether they are written or unwritten, whether they are applied to the training of one or many, will not, it seems, make any difference, just as it does not in music, gymnastics, or any other such accomplishments, which are gained by practice." (Aristotle 1998: 197)





ARISTOTLE; Kaufman W. (ed).  1998.  Nicomachean Ethics.  Mineola, New York: Dover.

AUGUSTINE St.  2003.  Concerning the City of God against the Pagans. Penguin: London, 2nd edition.

MAUTNER, T.  2005.  The Penguin dictionary of philosophy.  (London, England: Penguin, 2nd edition)