The Life according to the Intellect

The Divine Life and the Human Life




Perseus Digital Library:

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Eudemian Ethics

Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon:
ἀκούσιος (Attic contraction for ἀεκούσιος), akousios, adjective, "unwilling,"
ἑκούσιος, hekousios, adjective, "willing,"
ἀκράτεια, akrateia, noun, "incontinence,"
βουλεύω, bouleuō, verb, "take counsel, deliberate,"
βούλησις, boulēsis, noun, "willing,"
προαίρεσις, proairesis, noun, "choice,"
διανοητικός, dianoētikos, adjective, "intellectual,"
νόος, noos, noun, "mind,"
φρήν, phrēn, noun, "the wit of a person,"
φρόνησις, phronēsis, noun, "practical wisdom,"
φρόνιμος, phronimos, adjective, "in one's right mind, in one's senses, showing the presence of mind, sensible"


"In Aristotle's view, there is a certain good which we all will or want to attain in life, namely, a good life. As grown-up human beings we have a certain conception, though different people have rather different ones, of what this final good consists of. So in a particular situation we shall, as mature human beings, choose what to do in light of our conception of this final good, because we think, having deliberated about the matter, that acting in this way will help us attain this good. But this is what willing to do something is: desiring to do something, because one thinks that it will help one attain something which one considers a good and which one therefore wills or wants. Hence choosing is just a special form of willing" (Michael Frede, A Free Will Origins of the Notion in Ancient Thought (edited by A. A. Long, with a foreward by David Sedley), 27. University of California Press, 2011).

"As then the question of legislation has been left uninvestigated by previous thinkers, it will perhaps be well if we consider it for ourselves, together with the whole question of the constitution of the State, in order to complete as far as possible our philosophy of human affairs (τὰ ἀνθρώπεια φιλοσοφία)" (Nicomachean Ethics X.9.1181b). "[T]his is the conception of wisdom Aristotle has, and accordingly he conceives of philosophy. Wisdom is theoretical. ... But if we look at what this means for Aristotle's conception of philosophy, ... we wonder where this leaves practical philosophy, that is ethics and politics. ... Aristotle hardly ever talks of ethics or practical philosophy as 'philosophy.' One place in which he does so is at the very end of E.N[= Nicomachean Ethics].X.9.1181b15, where he speaks of 'the philosophy concerning human affairs' (τὰ ἀνθρώπεια φιλοσοφία). Thus he implicitly contrasts it with first philosophy [πρώτη φιλοσοφία] which is concerned with wisdom which is divine and of matters divine, for instance God. It is wisdom which affords us the contemplation of truth, of which Aristotle earlier in E.N.X tells us that it makes our life like that of gods, to the extent that this is humanly possible. But first philosophy is concerned with the good or with what is best, and its concern is a theoretical concern, a concern aimed at satisfying our need to know and understand what is the most important thing to understand, namely, God, a principle of all things. By contrast, ethics is just concerned with the human good, and this concern is not theoretical, but a practical concern. It is aimed at being good and living well" (Michael Frede, "Aristotle's Account of the Origins of Philosophy," 23-24. Rhizai. A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science, 1/2004, 9-44).




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