COMMENTARY ON ARISTOTLE’S NICOMACHEAN ETHICS: BOOK I, 3
(For the nature of the sections see the “General Introduction”, here.)
Abbreviations: Ar. = Aristotle, AQ= Aquinas, NE = Nicomachean Ethics, EE= Eudemian Ethics
“The inquiry would be adequately made if it should attain the clarity that accords with the subject matter. For one should not seek out precision in all arguments alike, just as one should not do so in the products of craftsmanship either. The noble things and the just things, which the political art examines, admit of much dispute and variability, such that they are held to exist by law alone and not by nature. And even the good things admit of some such variability on account of the harm that befalls many people as a result of them: it has happened that some have been destroyed on account of their wealth, others on account of their courage.
It would certainly be desirable enough, then, if one who speaks about and on the basis of such things demonstrates the truth roughly and in outline, and if, in speaking about and on the basis of the things that are for the most part so, one draws conclusions of that sort as well. Indeed, in the same manner one must also accept each of the points being made. For it belongs to an educated person to seek out precision in each genus to the extent that the nature of the matter allows: to accept persuasive speech from a skilled mathematician appears comparable to demanding demonstrations from a skilled rhetorician. Each person judges nobly the things he knows, and of these he is the judge. He is a good judge of a particular thing, therefore if he has been educated with a view to it, but is a good judge simply if he has been educated about everything. Hence of the political art, a young person is not an appropriate student, for he is inexperienced in the actions pertaining to life, and the arguments are based on these actions and concern them.
Further, because he is disposed to follow the passions, he will listen pointlessly and unprofitably, since the involved end is not knowledge, but action. And it makes no difference at all whether he is young in age or immature in character: the deficiency is not related to time but instead arises on account of living in accord with passion and pursing each passion in turn. For to people of that sort, just as to those lacking self-restraint, knowledge is without benefit. But to those who fashion their longings in accord with reason and act accordingly, knowing about these things would be of great profit.
About the student, and how one ought to accept [what is being said], and what it is that we propose, let these things stand as a prelude.” (NE, 1094b12-1095a13; Aristotle´s Nicomachean Ethics, Bartlett, Robert, and Collins, Susan; University of Chicago, Chicago, 2011)
I. PRIVATE PUZZLES
1) Why does Ar. consider it necessary to proceed with his argument by digressing from the main idea of the architectonic good? He surely does not think this is necessary in the EE, does he? Is it because the EE requires a correction born out of Aristotle’s own maturation? Did Ar. apply the very words of this Subsection 3 of the NE to HIMSELF at some point in his life? And why is it that, in comparison, other ethical writers (specially, Kant), as well as other “ethical” books (specially, The Bible) do not see the need to proceed this way? Why does Aristotelianism REQUIRE this beginning? Is it because of ITS particular audience so that getting the audience RIGHT is half the task? Is it because of the central role of rhetoric we spoke of in our earlier commentaries?
2) Moreover, what to make of the craftsmanship example as an analogy for the kind of inquiry Ar. prepares us for? For instance, what does it mean that two craftsmen, 2 shoemakers for instance, make different shoes in terms of their “precision”? In other words, if one of the craftsmen´s product is “more precise” (presumably better), then why should we accept the lesser one’s products? Indeed, why should we accept an ethics on a “lesser” quality, so to speak, IF the craftsmanship analogy holds? In other words, how imprecise is imprecise? Why wouldn’t we seek the BEST inquirer as well? And isn´t that precisely the challenge Ar. gives himself, namely to provide THE model for ethical inquiry to be followed for all times while remaining as close as possible to the nature of its subject matter? Or put in another, much more problematic, way: if the analogy is to hold, who is the “craftsman”/”craftswoman” of souls? And who, FIRST crafted his/her soul to be such?
3) And isn´t this of crucial relevance with regards to what Ar. goes on to argue? Isn’t he saying that the lack of precision is DUE TO a certain relativism as regards the just and the noble, AND a certain relativism with regard to the goods themselves? But then how are we not to despair in terms of reaching the target Ar. has told us at the beginning will lead us beyond a pointless longing? How are we then not to fall into an eternal emptiness of dissatisfaction? Isn´t this the very critique by the early moderns (Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, The Federalists) to all classical republicanism and its defenders? Wouldn’t these early modern critiques argue: better not have some, even many, satisfaction(s) than aim too high and lose all human attempts at satisfaction? Will we get some of the answers, or perhaps THE answer as we read along the NE?
4) But much more importantly, what to do about the sudden and surprising reference to the crucial relation mentioned between nomos (law, custom) and physis (what is by nature) as regards the noble and the just things? If nomos is HELD TO BE variable —– for the just and the noble appear to change from one political society to another (so that Quebec’s law 101 would be considered unjust in other provinces in Canada, and Colombia’s obligatory military service would be seen as a encroachment upon individual rights in other countries)—– then how are we to guide our ethical and political lives beyond this relativity? Will it turn out that the NE will provide us with clear guidelines that refer to universal transhistorical physis? And if indeed the NE, in its discussion of natural justice in BOOK V can in fact come up with such practical/theoretical guidelines, how are we moderns —born out of a minimization of the good and of a historical relativization of the good— to actually see or make such guidelines part of OUR very own variable notions of nomos? Or put another way, does natural justice actually exist? And we moderns, born out of the discovery of history, can WE ever hear it? But if not, then are all political societies relative and consequently a hierarchical ordering between them an impossibility? Wouldn´t this run counter to Ar.´s belief that there does exist AN overarching good which allows for a careful yet clear judging amongst societal models? Or rather, should we try to grab hold on to the modern independence of states and the non-interference premise found in international affairs? But then, how does one explain THE FACT that we DO interfere? Is it because the “interveners” have read the NE?And very importantly, if the noble and the just are of the essence, why is it that Ar. will FIRST look at the moral virtues and take up the question of justice solely until BOOK V? Could it be that he is trying to see the moral virtues on their own terms, seeing whether the moral virtues sought for their own sake actually fit the bill of the argument he puts forth in outline from the start?
5) Besides, how are we to understand the example of certain goods as being harmful? Why didn’t Ar. mention this back in subsection 1, making US think of these problems in our very own puzzles; for instance, that war can be quite problematic? Is it because of the rhetorical premisses of the argument? But if so, can rhetoric then not be truly optimistic, but and in the political arena specially, truly endangering? Isn´t this why the good of peace Chamberlain sought, was merely an apparent good, though rhetorically it had a powerful appeal? For, who does not wish for peace? Wouldn’t “Machiavelli” argue something like this? But really how could a good harm one if it is good? Is it because the GOOD is not good always, or rather is it because the good in question IS good but WE are ignorant of its use? Or put another way, how could riches harm one? Is it, as Aquinas tells us, because the rich person can be robbed? But, why doesn’t Ar. say this? Why doesn’t he spell it out in the terms AQ. uses? Or is Ar. getting at something altogether different? Can riches damage YOU independently of being robbed? Can riches damage you because you are unprepared for riches? Isn’t this why Montesquieu defends Sumptuary Laws? For truly our Colombian drug-dealers are rich, aren’t they? And it would be odd to think that they, surrounded by protection, would be actually robbed? Isn´t there a greater chance of MY getting robbed? And if this is problematic, what to say about our commercially oriented modern societies which arise precisely as a CHALLENGE to Aristotelianism (see particularly Montesquieu and Locke)? And, furthermore, what to make of the example of courage? Why does Ar. here CHOOSE this example of a moral virtue and no other? First off, isn’t it the case that all societies ask of the individual not a variable/changeable thing but on the contrary the very SAME thing, namely , to be prepared to DIE for his/her society (be it democratic, theocratic, aristocratic …) if it is actually threatened by a foreign invader (one can recall the images of Stalingrad or read The Red Badge of Courage)? And what exactly is the good of courage? Is courage in fact a VIRTUE, can it be a virtue seen on its own? That is to say, how are we to understand courage independently of its being conceived as a CIVIC virtue, that is to say as focused on the common good? Isn’t Ar. preparing us for the dilemmas involving courage as the first moral virtue to be considered in BOOK III?
6) Moreover, HOW exactly can truth be a “roughly presented” kind of thing? Don’t Kantians kind of shake their heads at this idea with their notion of a formalist deductive ethical inquiry? And, doesn’t this idea —misinterpreted, of course—- fill our modern relativistic ears with dreams of a certain proximity to Aristotle? Why does Ar. proceed thus? Is it because we have no guidelines? Or is it because the guidelines are flexible? But if so, then WHO decides? And one decides looking towards WHAT? For isn’t that what Ar. precisely has JUST said, that both the good and the just vary to considerable degrees? So, WHO actually fills out the outline: each and every single one of us, or each and every society as they see fit, or a combination? And why does Aristotle use the word “appear” in the comparison between the mathematician and the rhetorician (“to accept persuasive speech from a skilled mathematician appears comparable to demanding demonstrations from a skilled rhetorician”)? Why doesn’t he just say that it IS, not merely that it APPEARS unacceptable to have this starting point? Are we to think that Ar. is always trying to remain flexible? But what would that mean HERE? Or, is it because he holds open the view that there might be skilled mathematicians who are ALSO skilled rhetoricians? Wouldn’t many of the students of Plato´s Academy be such, for wasn’t it the case that the Academy would accept only those with an understanding of mathematics? Or put in more radical terms, and from a different perspective, wouldn’t a separation between rhetoric and mathematics give us a truncated view of the whole? That is to say, wouldn’t such a separation make us believe that individuals such as Socrates simply studied human affairs, and did not really know much about the study of nature? But isn´t it clear that Socrates inquired about BOTH? This being true even if Xenophon tries to show simply the JUSTICE of Socrates in his Memorabilia? And as regards the very NE, isn’t this initial stance of alleged openness and rough outlining SEVERELY “contradicted” by the very conclusion we find affirmed, seriously affirmed, in the surprising end which is BOOK X? Where did the rough outline go? Or is it that the outline preserves the flexibility required to challenge our presuppositions and thus prepares us for certain conclusions, conclusions involving a form of life? For surely the NE is all about filling out as best as possible the initial outline, isn’t it?
7) And besides connected to the above points, what to make of the immediately following words, namely: “He is a good judge of a particular thing, therefore if he has been educated with a view to it, but is a good judge simply if he has been educated about everything.” So then in fact it turns out to be that the best judge is BOTH a mathematician AND a rhetorician AND many other things? But, WHICH things make part of our being educated about everything? Are we speaking of the kind of non republican education found in Xenophon´s description of Persian education in the first chapters of his The Education of Cyrus? Or, is the aim of the NE to educate us as a certain kind of pentathletes in contrast to overspecialized athletes? And, very importantly, isn’t this part of the issue in Plato´s short, and seldom read dialogue, The Lovers (which in fact is not even considered by many to be authentic, see below section IV)? Put another way: we ask Ar. which is it, we separate the mathematician from the rhetorician OR we seek to be educated in all things and become a certain kind of mathematicians and rhetoricians? And, what if rhetoric opened the path to an understanding of nature and its structure (See Bolotin on Ar.´s Physics)? And if all societies consider the just and the noble in a different light, won’t there be societies which will be closer to the rhetoricians and others closer to the mathematicians? And CLEARLY, isn’ our modern society MUCH closer indeed to a society of ultra specialized mathematicians, and thus urgently in need of the counterbalancing presence of skilled generalist-oriented rhetoricians? Or put yet another way, who educates in THIS manner in modernity? Do modern ultra specialized universities (even if there are some attempts at counterbalancing this tendency)? Does not modernity see specialization as THE relevant practical and theoretical goal in ALL areas, even in the Humanities (see section IV below on Adam Smith)? But then, how are we to HEAR Ar.’s argument, (which he repeats towards the very end of the Politics (see section IV below)? Are we to understand that herein lies the basis of the radical importance for us of a liberal education; an education which sees specialization as dangerous and counteracts it via the dynamic relation between civic education (closely related to nomos) and critical education (closely related to a certain physis)? For surely we moderns are in need of better citizens rather than better technocrats, aren’t we?
8) Why the idea that the student is a listener (akroatēs)? How does this practice of listening actually provide light into the teacher-student relationship as understood by the ancients? Isn’t the attitude towards wisdom one of LISTENING? And, why does Ar. speak of listening rather that engaging in DIALOGUE? Is it because, as our former Bogotá mayor Peñalosa used to say, we have TWO ears and only ONE mouth? And how is this first reference to listening to be linked to the references found in BOOK I, 4 and BOOK I, 13? And much more importantly LISTEN to who? Haven´t those attending Ar.´s lectures ALREADY been doing A LOT OF listening; to their parents, to their societies, to Homer? And if each society holds the just to be variable, to which does the listener listen to? To each variable? To some? To which, if only some? Must he not travel, or at least read Herodotus? And isn’t it the case that our MODERN societies have actually done away with listening? Aren’t teachers simply to perform the role of facilitators rather than leaders? Are OUR professors wise? And what does it mean that the young are inexperienced? Inexperienced about what? About courage and riches, which are crucial parts of the realm of the political? But then how does one BECOME experienced in these actions? By doing courageous deeds? So, for instance, one takes “a years absence” from the Lyceum to fight a war and create a company? And, if there is no war to prove oneself in? Does one seek to start one? Does not Thucydides caution us about the tendencies of Athenian imperialism? BUT, what if in the performance of a courageous deed one DIES? Does the problem of “courage” not reappear; for it seems that acquiring experience in courage can, as Ar. himself says, be quite detrimental to the individual? And in terms of riches, how does one gain experience? By becoming rich? Or is it rather that we are speaking to an audience of the well-off? And aren´t the well-off the least inclined to actually LISTEN? Isn’t this whole thing a bit like what immigrants hear when they are told that they cannot get a job in Canada because they do not have the Canadian experience, but they cannot get the experience because they cannot get the job? To repeat, wouldn’t this mean that the young should go out of the Lyceum, get some of this experience and then come back? But wouldn’t this be odd, haven’t they ALREADY been educated BY their society to become ethical, in a sense? Or is it, they are going to really become ethical at the Lyceum? Wouldn’t Aristophanes have MUCH to say and write about this idea? Or is it rather that Ar. is placing a CHALLENGE to the “young”, that is to say to the young in spirit and mind (for he himself argues the question is not one of age)? The challenge, to live up to their best standard? But once again, WHICH standard if standards appear to be by nomos and not by physis? How am I to know that I gave my life for the right/BEST nomoi if such a situation occurred?
9) And finally, what exactly does Ar. mean when he argues that the point is action (praxis) and not knowledge (gnosis)? What exactly may one ask, is the action resulting from going to the Lyceum? Is it in part, due to the dual audience Ar. addresses, to create some of the leaders of the political community? But then, isn’t there a tricky balance involved in such an education? Why so? Because aren’t such leaders to TRULY believe that THEIR nomoi are the ones worthy of dedication –superior to those of others—- AND at the same time worthy of continuous questioning —presumably so that they REMAIN superior to those of others? But how can one question the law while being loyal to it (i.e, how to avoid Alcibiades´ imprudent questioning of Pericles as recalled by Xenophon in the Memorabilia? And finally did Ar. not JUST say in the sentences preceding that knowledge is NOT helpful, not the end goal; but then he concludes by affirming to those who can guide their passions that KNOWLEDGE is in fact very profitable? Is the end then a sort of action, or a sort of knowledge, or both? And, what exactly is the PROFIT? Shouldn’t the moral virtues be done for their own sake? And what if the best of humans turned out to be the most passionate, as Socrates seem to have believed (thus seeking out individuals such as the mentioned Alcibiades (See particularly Plato´s Alcibiades I, where we gain important pointers into classical Socratic education)? Will Ar. make of these exceptional humans passionless creatures? Or rather will he redirect their passions? Isn’t this why there is a whole book, Book VII; dedicated to this very issue of akrasia? And couldn’t this be part of the reason why the permanent Socratic discussion on eros is transformed into a discussion on friendship (philia) within two complete books (!) of the NE? Truly, wouldn’t it be odd if the overarching goal of life were one of constant internal struggle and conflict between reason and the passions (as appears in the discussion of enkrateia and akrasia)? Or should the Lyceum turn a blind eye to these exceptional individuals and not guide them? Isn´t this the DANGER of dangers for the philosopher –the corruption of the BEST young—- one for which, in part, Socrates was accused, condemned and executed? Isn’t Ar. trying to “correct” his very own tradition? And of course, it sounds absolutely noble, “fashion the passions according to reason”; but WHO decides, and WHERE is it decided if the just and the noble are so variable that they are considered to be by nomos and not by physis? Or, once again, mustn’t one —like Hobbes and Locke— radically redefine the relationship between reason and the passions by going into a utilitarian frame of mind? (An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, “Modes of our ideas of Pleasures and Pains”, Book II, Chapter XX, “That we call good, which is apt to cause or increase pleasure , or diminish pain in us … (Dover ed.)” ?
1) The variable nature of the subject of the inquiry
2) Who is it that is best prepared for such an inquiry
3) The young
III. PUZZLES REGARDING COMMENTARY BY AQUINAS
1) Why does AQ. wish us to believe that the proper method is a kind of science, when Ar. himself clearly tries to remain extremely flexible as to the nature of the inquiry itself (32)
2) Why does AQ. argue the example of riches is bad because robbers can rob you? Is this Ar.’s point, or wouldn’t it rather be that riches can destroy you because of who you end up becoming? (34)
3) Why does AQ. introduce the will in (35) when Ar. does not mention it here or in ALL of the NE?
4) Why exactly doesn´t AQ. puzzle over what “educated in everything” means? (37) And surely he would include, as he did in our previous commentary, theology, wouldn’t he?
5) What to make of AQ.’s example of what he thinks Ar. means by the young not being having the proper experience? Why does he give the example of generosity as “keeping the cheaper and giving he more expensive”? What is it we learn by giving the more expensive to others? And CRUCIALLY, will this be the spirit of the analysis of generosity/ liberality that Ar. will provide himself in BOOK IV? (38) Or put another way, will the generous person as expression of the fulfillment of the virtue of generosity give without asking for anything in return? Will generosity as a moral virtue stand on its own, independent of any profit received? And in AQ.’s example, don´t the generous in Catholicism actually receive something of very great importance? Or put another way, what if generosity were rather problematic? Would one have to find other MODES of becoming generous?
6) And surely in the Bible Job himself is the premier example of the lament that justice does not always hold, isn´t he? What is the kind of divine educational reform Job receives? What of his lament?:
“Let the day perish on which I was born ….. why did I not die at birth, come forth from the womb and expire?…. Why is light given to him who suffers, and life to the bitter of soul; Who long for death, but there is none .. my cries pour out like water, For what I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me. And I am not at ease, nor am I quiet, And I am not at rest but turmoil comes” (Job 3:1-26)
Put another way, doesn’t the Biblical God guarantee that Justice will NOT be variable as Ar. argues here? Isn’t this why there is a CHOSEN people, and we should ALL follow their standards?
IV. FLEXIBLE SECTION
1) In a similar vein as regards the contrast between mathematicians and rhetoricians, see Pascal Pensées, No. 21:
“The reason, therefore, that some intuitive minds are not mathematical is that they cannot at all turn their attention to the principles of mathematics. But the reason that mathematicians are not intuitive is that they do not see what is before them, and that, accustomed to the exact and plain principles of mathematics, and not reasoning till they have well inspected and arranged their principles, they are lost in matters of intuition where the principles do not allow of such arrangement. They are scarcely seen; they are felt rather than seen; there is the greatest difficulty in making them felt by those[Pg 2] who do not of themselves perceive them. These principles are so fine and so numerous that a very delicate and very clear sense is needed to perceive them, and to judge rightly and justly when they are perceived, without for the most part being able to demonstrate them in order as in mathematics; because the principles are not known to us in the same way, and because it would be an endless matter to undertake it. We must see the matter at once, at one glance, and not by a process of reasoning, at least to a certain degree. And thus it is rare that mathematicians are intuitive, and that men of intuition are mathematicians, because mathematicians wish to treat matters of intuition mathematically, and make themselves ridiculous, wishing to begin with definitions and then with axioms, which is not the way to proceed in this kind of reasoning. Not that the mind does not do so, but it does it tacitly, naturally, and without technical rules; for the expression of it is beyond all men, and only a few can feel it.
Intuitive minds, on the contrary, being thus accustomed to judge at a single glance, are so astonished when they are presented with propositions of which they understand nothing, and the way to which is through definitions and axioms so sterile, and which they are not accustomed to see thus in detail, that they are repelled and disheartened.
But dull minds are never either intuitive or mathematical.
Mathematicians who are only mathematicians have exact minds, provided all things are explained to them by means of definitions and axioms; otherwise they are inaccurate and insufferable, for they are only right when the principles are quite clear.
And men of intuition who are only intuitive cannot have the patience to reach to first principles of things speculative and conceptual, which they have never seen in the world, and which are altogether out of the common.” (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/18269, French version, Gallimard 1962 p. 23)
2) For a STRIKINGLY different appeal to the young see Machiavelli, The Prince Chapter XXV:
“I conclude, then, that since circumstances vary and men when acting lack flexibility, they are successful if their methods match the circumstances and unsuccessful if they do not. I certainly think that it is better to be impetuous than to be cautious, because fortune is a woman, and if you want to control her, it is necessary to treat her roughly. And it is clear that she is more inclined to yield to men who are impetuous than to those who are calculating. Since fortune is a woman, she is always well disposed towards young men, because they are less cautious and more aggressive, and treat her more boldly.” ( my emphasis: Cambridge, p. 87)
3) For Hobbes´s radical critique of Aristotle and of Aristotle’s incorporation in to the universities see Leviathan:
“But the philosophy-schools, through all the Universities of Christendom, grounded upon certain texts of Aristotle teach another doctrine …. I say not this as disapproving the use of universities; but because I am to speak hereafter of their office in a commonwealth, I must let you see on all occasions by the way, what things should be amended in them, amongst which the frequency of insignificant speech is one” (Part I, Chapter I, (5); see also Part I, Chapter XV (21))
4) It is striking that, for instance, Kant in his Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals makes no mention of its listener´s requirements:
“Since my purpose here is directed to moral philosophy, I narrow the proposed question to this: Is it not of the utmost necessity to construct a pure moral philosophy which is completely freed from everything which may be only empirical and thus belong to anthropology? That there must be such a philosophy is self-evident from the common idea of duty and moral laws. Everyone must admit that a law, if it is to hold morally, i..e, as a ground of obligation, must imply absolute necessity …. (my emphasis; FoMM, Macmillan, Intro, p. 5) ”
Rarely does one hear such a strikingly un-Aristotelian tenor, tenor which in the case of Kant must be supplemented with Kant´s own, and little read, The Metaphysics of Morals where he discusses concretely the different virtues in turn.
5) For the discussion of pentathletes and an understanding of a type of education involved in liberal education see Plato´s The Lovers:
“And I, for I was still uncertain about his argument, as to what he intended, said, “ Do I have in mind what sort of man you mean by the philosopher? For you seem to me to mean those who are like the pentathletes in relation to the runners and the wrestlers, in competition. For they too are inferior to those others in their particular events, and are second to them, but are first among the other athletes and are victorious over them ….” (Pangle, ed.: Cornell, The Roots of Political Philosophy, The Lovers, 135e, p. 85)
6) Finally, in terms of the modern spirit of specialization one can turn to Adam Smith´s The Wealth of Nations Book:
“If we examine, I say, all these things and consider what a variety of labour is employed about each of them, we shall be sensible that, without the assistance and co-operation of many thousands, the very meanest person i a civilized v¡country could not be provided ….Compared indeed, with the more extravagant luxury of the great, his accommodation must no doubt appear extremely simple and easy; and yet but may be true, perhaps, that the accommodation of a European prince does not always so much exceed that of the industrious and frugal peasant as the accommodation of the latter exceed that of many an African king, the absolute master of the lives and liberties of ten thousand naked savages. “ (my emphasis: TWoN, BOOK I, Chapter 1, p. 117, Penguin Classics: (and similar tone in Locke´s discussion on property)
Words which stand in striking contrast to those found towards the end of Ar.´s Politics:
”That there is a certain sort of educator therefore in which children are to be educated, not as being useful or necessary, but as being liberal and noble, is evident … Similarly they should be educated in drawing not so that may may not make errors in their private purchases and avoid being deceived in the buying and selling of wares, connected with bodies, To seek everywhere the element of utility is least of all fitting for those who are magnanimous and free” (my emphasis: Lord, Politics, BOOK VIII, Chapter 3 end 1338a 30- 1338b3 p. 232
7) Once again it bears repeating the different strategy in EE where one reads in contrast to the prudent flexibility of the NE:
“Many opinions are held by children and by the diseased and mentally unbalanced, and no sensible man would concern himself with puzzles about them: the holders of such views are in need, not of arguments, but of maturity in which to change their opinions, or else a correction of a civil or medical kind (for medical treatment is no less a form of correction than flogging is.” (my emphasis: Woods, EE, BOOK I, Chapter 3, 1214b30-35)
The NE, up till now, has made no mention of such flogging.
8) For a seriously ironic critique of the modern mathematical model as dangerously applied to the political and ethical spheres see Gulliver´s Travels by Jonathan Swift:
“To explain the Manner of its Progress, let A B represent a Line drawn across the Dominion of Balnibarbi; let c d represent the Load-stone …. (PART III, Chapter III: “A Phaenomenon solved by modern Philosophy and Astronomy”; Norton, p. 142).”
V. IMPORTANT GREEK TERMS IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE
|moving hither and thither|
incontinent, lacking self-restraint
VI. NICOMACHEAN ETHICS, GREEK, BOOK I, 3; text at Perseus (based on Bywater)
λέγοιτο δ᾽ ἂν ἱκανῶς, εἰ κατὰ τὴν ὑποκειμένην ὕλην διασαφηθείη: τὸ γὰρ ἀκριβὲς οὐχ ὁμοίως ἐν ἅπασι τοῖς λόγοις ἐπιζητητέον, ὥσπερ οὐδ᾽ ἐν τοῖς δημιουργουμένοις. τὰ δὲ καλὰ καὶ τὰ δίκαια, περὶ ὧν ἡ πολιτικὴ σκοπεῖται, πολλὴν ἔχει διαφορὰν καὶ πλάνην, ὥστε δοκεῖν νόμῳ μόνον εἶναι, φύσει δὲ μή. τοιαύτην δέ τινα πλάνην ἔχει καὶ τἀγαθὰ διὰ τὸ πολλοῖς συμβαίνειν βλάβας ἀπ᾽ αὐτῶν: ἤδη γάρ τινες ἀπώλοντο διὰ πλοῦτον, ἕτεροι δὲ δι᾽ ἀνδρείαν. ἀγαπητὸν οὖν περὶ τοιούτων καὶ ἐκ τοιούτων λέγοντας παχυλῶς καὶ τύπῳ τἀληθὲς ἐνδείκνυσθαι, καὶ περὶ τῶν ὡς ἐπὶ τὸ πολὺ καὶ ἐκ τοιούτων λέγοντας τοιαῦτα καὶ συμπεραίνεσθαι. τὸν αὐτὸν δὴ τρόπον καὶ ἀποδέχεσθαι χρεὼν ἕκαστα τῶν λεγομένων: πεπαιδευμένου γάρ ἐστιν ἐπὶ τοσοῦτον τἀκριβὲς ἐπιζητεῖν καθ᾽ ἕκαστον γένος, ἐφ᾽ ὅσον ἡ τοῦ πράγματος φύσις ἐπιδέχεται: παραπλήσιον γὰρ φαίνεται μαθηματικοῦ τε πιθανολογοῦντος ἀποδέχεσθαι καὶ ῥητορικὸν ἀποδείξεις ἀπαιτεῖν. ἕκαστος δὲ κρίνει καλῶς ἃ γινώσκει, καὶ τούτων ἐστὶν ἀγαθὸς κριτής. καθ᾽ ἕκαστον μὲν ἄρα ὁ πεπαιδευμένος, ἁπλῶς δ᾽ ὁ περὶ πᾶν πεπαιδευμένος. διὸ τῆς πολιτικῆς οὐκ ἔστιν οἰκεῖος ἀκροατὴς ὁ νέος: ἄπειρος γὰρ τῶν κατὰ τὸν βίον πράξεων, οἱ λόγοι δ᾽ ἐκ τούτων καὶ περὶ τούτων: ἔτι δὲ τοῖς πάθεσιν ἀκολουθητικὸς ὢν ματαίως ἀκούσεται καὶ ἀνωφελῶς, ἐπειδὴ τὸ τέλος ἐστὶν οὐ γνῶσις ἀλλὰ πρᾶξις. διαφέρει δ᾽ οὐδὲν νέος τὴν ἡλικίαν ἢ τὸ ἦθος νεαρός: οὐ γὰρ παρὰ τὸν χρόνον ἡ ἔλλειψις, ἀλλὰ διὰ τὸ κατὰ πάθος ζῆν καὶ διώκειν ἕκαστα. τοῖς γὰρ τοιούτοις ἀνόνητος ἡ γνῶσις γίνεται, καθάπερ τοῖς ἀκρατέσιν: τοῖς δὲ κατὰ λόγον τὰς ὀρέξεις ποιουμένοις καὶ πράττουσι πολυωφελὲς ἂν εἴη τὸ περὶ τούτων εἰδέναι. καὶ περὶ μὲν ἀκροατοῦ, καὶ πῶς ἀποδεκτέον, καὶ τί προτιθέμεθα, πεφροιμιάσθω ταῦτα.