The Nicomachean Ethics

Front Cover
Penguin, 2004 - Philosophy - 329 pages
12 Reviews
Previously published as Ethics, Aristotle's The Nicomachean Ethics addresses the question of how to live well, and originates the concept of cultivating a virtuous character as the basis of his ethical system. This Penguin Classics edition is translated from the Greek by J.A.K. Thomson with revisions and notes by Hugh Tredennick, and an introduction and bibliography by Jonathan Barnes. 'One swallow does not make a summer; neither does one day. Similarly neither can one day, or a brief space of time, make a man blessed and happy' In The Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle sets out to examine the nature of happiness. He argues that happiness consists in 'activity of the soul in accordance with virtue', for example with moral virtues, such as courage, generosity and justice, and intellectual virtues, such as knowledge, wisdom and insight. The Ethics also discusses the nature of practical reasoning, the value and the objects of pleasure, the different forms of friendship, and the relationship between individual virtue, society and the State. Aristotle's work has had a profound and lasting influence on all subsequent Western thought about ethical matters. Aristotle (384-22 BC) studied at the Academy of Plato for 20 years and then established his own school and research institute, 'The Lyceum'. His writings, which were of extraordinary range, profoundly affected the whole course of ancient and medieval philosophy and are still eagerly studied and debated by philosophers today. If you enjoyed The Nicomachean Ethics, you might like Plato's The Symposium, also available in Penguin Classics.

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Review: The Nicomachean Ethics

User Review  - Andrew Anony - Goodreads

The introduction goes through the word 'ethics' and how Aristotle meant something different - more about character. Also by happiness he meant something different. There exists an indeterminancy of ... Read full review

Review: The Nicomachean Ethics

User Review  - John Doe - Goodreads

If you are going to walk, you may as well learn to walk in the proper way. If you are going to eat, you may as well learn the art of eating. Which one is the salad fork? Aristotle thinks we achieve ... Read full review

Selected pages


The Object of Life
Moral Goodness
Moral Responsibility Two Virtues
Other Moral Virtues
Intellectual Virtues
Continence and Incontinence The Nature of Pleasure
The Kinds of Friendship
Appendix 4 Platos Theory of Forms
Appendix 5 The Categories
Appendix 6 Substance and Change
Appendix 7 Nature and Theology
Appendix 8 The Practical Syllogism
Appendix 9 Pleasure and Process
Appendix 10 Liturgies
Appendix 11 Aristotle in the Middle Ages

The Grounds of Friendship
Pleasure and the Life of Happiness
Appendix 1 Table of Virtues and Vices
Appendix 2 Pythagoreanism
Appendix 3 The Sophists and Socrates
Glossary of Greek Words
Index of Names
Subject Index

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Popular passages

Page xl - And, whatever the world thinks, he who hath not much meditated upon God, the human mind, and the summum bonum, may possibly make a thriving earthworm, but will most indubitably make a sorry patriot and a sorry statesman.
Page xl - Essay, are not proposed as principles, but barely as hints to awaken and exercise the inquisitive reader, on points not beneath the attention of the ablest men. Those great men, Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle, the most consummate in politics, who founded states, or instructed princes, or wrote most accurately on public government, were at the same time most acute at all abstracted and sublime speculations ; the clearest light being ever necessary to guide the most important actions.

References to this book

Morality and the Emotions
Justin Oakley
No preview available - 1993
Morality and the Emotions
Justin Oakley
No preview available - 1993
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About the author (2004)

Aristotle was born at Stageira, in the dominion of the kings of Macedonia, in 384 BC. For twenty years he studied at Athens in the Academy of Plato, on whose death in 347 he left, and, some time later, became tutor of the young Alexander the Great. When Alexander succeeded to the throne of Macedonia in 335, Aristotle returned to Athens and established his school and research institute, the Lyceum, to which his great erudition attracted a large number of scholars. After Alexander's death in 323, anti-Macedonian feeling drove Aristotle out of Athens, and he fled to Chalcis in Euboea, where he died in 322. His writings, which were of extraordinary range, profoundly affected the whole course of ancient and medieval philosophy, and they are still eagerly studied and debated by philosophers today. Very many of them have survived and among the most famous are the Ethics and the Politics.

J. A. K. Thomson was professor emeritus of classics at King's College, London, until his death in 1959.

Hugh Tredennick was professor of classics at Royal Holloway College and Dean of the Faculty of Arts at London University.

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