PHIL 397 - Reading Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics
Participants in this intensive undertake an in-depth reading of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. The NE is one of the two or three most influential works of moral philosophy in the western philosophical tradition. It is a book which is at once strange to us (written 2400 years ago, in a culture that is very foreign to our own), and yet, at key points, strikingly resonant now. We read Aristotle’s text carefully in order to reconstruct the best arguments for his views that we can; but we also test those arguments, and ask whether their conclusions are, in the end, defensible. Could Aristotle be right that a person can live a good life only insofar as they possess and exercise virtues of character such as courage, justice, and generosity? Is Aristotle right that there is such a thing as an (objectively) good life for a human being at all? How much, if any, of his specific picture of a good life should be defended, and how much should be jettisoned?
We meet once a week to discuss a substantial portion of the text. Students should have prior experience studying the history of philosophy, preferably within the western philosophical tradition. We read the Nicomachen Ethics in English, but students with any knowledge of Greek are encouraged to also consult the original. Jeffrey Seidman.
Prerequisite(s): Two intermediate or advanced Philosophy courses (preferably in the history of philosophy), or permission of the instructor.
One 3-hour period.
Not offered in 2021/22.
Course Format: INT
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