Aristotle s views on ethics and politics

References and Further Reading 1. Biography and History Aristotle's life was primarily that of a scholar.

Aristotle s views on ethics and politics

References and Further Reading 1. However, like the other ancient philosophers, it was not the stereotypical ivory tower existence. It is noteworthy that although Aristotle praises the politically active life, he spent most of his own life in Athens, where he was not a citizen and would not have been allowed to participate directly in politics although of course anyone who wrote as extensively and well about politics as Aristotle did was likely to be politically influential.

As a scholar, Aristotle had a wide range of interests. He wrote about meteorology, biology, physics, poetry, logic, rhetoric, and politics and ethics, among other subjects.

His writings on many of these interests remained definitive for almost two millennia. They remained, and remain, so valuable in part because of the comprehensiveness of his efforts. For example, in order to understand political phenomena, he had his students collect information on the political organization and history of different cities.

The question of how these writings should be unified into a consistent whole if that is even possible is an open one and beyond the scope of this article.

This is because Aristotle believed that ethics and politics were closely linked, and that in fact the ethical and virtuous life is only available to someone who participates in politics, while moral education is the main purpose of the political community. As he says in Nicomachean Ethics at b30, "The end [or goal] of politics is the best of ends; and the main concern of politics is to engender a certain character in the citizens and to make them good and disposed to perform noble actions.

We are likely to regard politics and politicians as aiming at ignoble, selfish ends, such as wealth and power, rather than the "best end", and many people regard the idea that politics is or should be primarily concerned with creating a particular moral character in citizens as a dangerous intrusion on individual freedom, in large part because we do not agree about what the "best end" is.

In fact, what people in Western societies generally ask from politics and the government is that they keep each of us safe from other people through the provision of police and military forces so that each of us can choose and pursue our own ends, whatever they may be.

This has been the case in Western political philosophy at least since John Locke. Development of individual character is left up to the individual, with help from family, religion, and other non-governmental institutions. The reader is also cautioned against immediately concluding from this that Ar istotle was wrong and we are right.

The reference above to "Nicomachean Ethics at b30" makes use of what is called Bekker pagination. This entry will make use of the Bekker pagination system, and will also follow tradition and refer to Nicomachean Ethics as simply Ethics.

What is the Relationship between Ethics and Politics?

There is also a Eudemian Ethics which is almost certainly by Aristotle and which shares three of the ten books of the Nicomachean Ethics and a work on ethics titled Magna Moralia which has been attributed to him but which most scholars now believe is not his work.

The translation is that of Martin Ostwald; see the bibliography for full information. Some of the reasons for this should be mentioned from the outset.

Aristotle did write for general audiences on these subjects, probably in dialogue form, but only a few fragments of those writings remain. This is also one reason why many students have difficulty reading his work: Many topics in the texts are discussed less fully than we would like, and many things are ambiguous which we wish were more straightforward.

Aristotle s views on ethics and politics

But if Aristotle was lecturing from these writings, he could have taken care of these problems on the fly as he lectured, since presumably he knew what he meant, or he could have responded to requests for clarification or elaboration from his students.

Secondly, most people who read Aristotle are not reading him in the original Attic Greek but are instead reading translations. This leads to further disagreement, because different authors translate Aristotle differently, and the way in which a particular word is translated can be very significant for the text as a whole.

There is no way to definitively settle the question of what Aristotle "really meant to say" in using a particular word or phrase.

Third, the Aristotelian texts we have are not the originals, but copies, and every time a text gets copied errors creep in words, sentences, or paragraphs can get left out, words can be changed into new words, and so forth. It may be clear from the context that a word has been changed, but then again it may not, and there is always hesitation in changing the text as we have it.

This, too, complicates our understanding of Aristotle. These controversies cannot be discussed here, but should be mentioned. For more detail consult the works listed in the "Suggestions for further reading" below. Carnes Lord and others have argued based on a variety of textual evidence that books 7 and 8 were intended by Aristotle to follow book 3.

Rearranging the text in this way would have the effect of joining the early discussion of the origins of political life and the city, and the nature of political justice, with the discussion of the ideal city and the education appropriate for it, while leaving together books which are primarily concerned with existing varieties of regimes and how they are preserved and destroyed and moving them to the conclusion of the book.

It is possible that Aristotle never finished writing it; more likely there is material missing as a result of damage to the scrolls on which it was written. The extent and content of any missing material is a matter of scholarly debate. Fortunately, the beginning student of Aristotle will not need to concern themselves much with these problems.

It is, however, important to get a quality translation of the text, which provides an introduction, footnotes, a glossary, and a bibliography, so that the reader is aware of places where, for example, there seems to be something missing from the text, or a word can have more than one meaning, or there are other textual issues.

These will not always be the cheapest or most widely available translations, but it is important to get one of them, from a library if need be.The Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle's most important study of personal morality and the ends of human life, has for many centuries been a widely-read and influential book.

Though written more than 2, years ago, it offers the modern reader many valuable insights into human needs and conduct. Among. Aristotle: Ethics and the Virtues.

The Goal of Ethics. Aristotle applied the same patient, The great enemy of moral conduct, on Aristotle's view, is precisely the failure to behave well even on those occasions when one's deliberation has resulted in clear knowledge of what is right.

Aristotle's views on natural sciences represent the groundwork underlying many of his works. Aristotle studied and made significant contributions to "logic, metaphysics, mathematics, physics, biology, botany, ethics, politics, agriculture, medicine, dance and theatre.".

Aristotle (b. – d. BCE), was a Greek philosopher, logician, and scientist. Along with his teacher Plato, Aristotle is generally regarded as one of the most influential ancient thinkers in a number of philosophical fields, including political theory. Politics Summary.

All associations are formed with the aim of achieving some good. The Greek city-state, or polis, is the most general association in the Greek world, containing all other associations, such as families and trade associations. As such, the city-state must aim at achieving the highest good.

Aristotle, however, wrote two separate treaties on politics and ethics and thereby differentiated the scope of the subjects. There is of course a difference of opinion among the thinkers regarding the relation between ethics and politics.

SparkNotes: Aristotle: Ethics and Politics