Nicomachean ethics

Nicomachean ethics

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  • Book 1 (Happiness) and Book 2 (Virtues)
  • As humans, we often search for things to satisfy our lusts and desires. Money, power, fame, glory, sex, food, and so much more. Yet, even with these things, we still want more.  These things will never give us happiness. They are done in the pursuit of happiness, yes. But, these things will never result in happiness. The things that will grant us our happiness, are virtues, and performing good acts. As humans, with a conscious, and a "soul", it is our duty to be virtuous, just like as animals, it is our duty to survive, and reproduce. In order to be virtuous, you must make the decision, which results in the highest amount of good done, and the least amount of harm done. For example, attempting to tackle an active shooter as a 90 pound, skinny person, is not virtuous, because it results in more harm done (you being dead) than just staying there. In addition, you must follow three rules in order to be virtuous. First you must know you are virtuous. Doing something good by accident, doesn't qualify you as virtuous. Second, you must do virtuous things because it is the right things to do, not because of some ulterior motive (money, fame, etc.). Last you must always feel the need to do the right thing.  Virtue isn't this feeling that temporarily washes over you. Virtue is a lifestyle, which stems from a never ending desire to do the right thing.
  • Book 3 (Voluntary, and Involuntary actions) and Book 4 (Generosity)
  • In order to determine what is good , and what is bad, we must distinguish between involuntary, and voluntary decisions. However, most actions cannot simply be divided into 100% voluntary or 100% involuntary, because there are almost always outside variables, which affect the decision being made. If a man makes a decision voluntarily, he is not only responsible, for his  decision, but also the consequences following the decision, which has been made. A virtuous man is one who chooses the decision, which has the least amount of evil, and the most amount of good. This decision, must have good intentions behind it, must result in positive consequences, and is made using ethical means.     One very important virtue, is generosity. This is important, because it is good to give when you can, to those who need it. However, it you give to much, or give when you are not in a position to, that is not virtuous, because you are causing harm to yourself, when you could use your money, to fix your situation. A virtuous, generous person, gives just the right amount, when they can afford it, and with joy.
  • Book 5 (Justice) and Book 6 (Souls)
  • Everything decided by law is just. This is because the law decides what is in the best interest for all citizens. The worst people, are the ones who's crimes affect both the perpetrator, and the surrounding citizens.. The best people, are the ones who share their good deeds, with everyone around them. There are two kinds of justice, particular, and universal. Particular justice is considered a virtue, while universal justice, is just following all rules and laws set in place. Particular justice has two types, corrective, and distributive. Distributive justice, refers to a form of justice, in which all resources are distributed fairly, and equally. Corrosive justice, the undoing of wrong actions, committed by an individual.  All living things have a soul. Most animals just have an irrational part. Their animal instincts if you will. We humans, are a bit more complex than that, however. In addition to the irrational part of our souls, we also have the part, which deals with reasoning. Our reasoning part of our souls, is split into two parts. Knowledge, which allows us to study factual evidence, and comprehend the the things around us, and the reasoning part.  The reasoning part, allows us to make decisions, and also allows us to distinguish from right and wrong. There are five ways that our soul decides what is true. These are science, art, prudence, intuition, and wisdom. 
  • Book 7 (Indulgence) and Book 8 (Friendship)
  • There are three different types of violations of the moral virtues. These are indulgence, degeneracy, and brutality.  There are four different ways, in which people can be indulgent. One of the ways, is that someone can be aware of their wrongdoing, but does not mull over their current knowledge. In this case, the said person does commit an immoral act, but does so, without considering the consequences of their behavior. A second way, is that someone may be indulgent, due to using in the moment deductive reasoning, and are unaware of the facts. For example, if someone is starving, they will most likely eat as much as they can, when the find a source of food. Another way, is that someone cannot come to the conclusion, that they are commiting a sinful act, because of their current mental state. Last, a person may act indulgent, as a result of burning desire. There are three different kinds of friendship. Those being utility based (both parties obtaining some kind of benefit), pleasure based (both parties being attractive to one another in some way), and goodness based (where both members love each others' goodness, and help each other be good). Since goodness is the our purpose, it is only the relationships founded on goodness, that are everlasting.
  • Book 9 (Friendship cont.) and Book 10 (Contemplation.)
  • There are multiple reasons that utility friendships, and pleasure friendships are not as good as friendships built on goodness. To start off with, if one or both parties cannot provide each other the pleasures/benefits that they formed the friendship for in the first place, then the friendship is doomed to collapse. Another reason, is because the friendship does not have a good foundation. A friendship built on pleasures, is like a house built out of broken, rotted wood. However, a friendship of goodness, is built on virtue, love, goodness, compassion, etc.  While the ultimate good is happiness, the highest form of happiness is contemplation, a state of meditation, and deep thought. While only a god could reach an everlasting state of contemplation, we humans should attempt to take part in this as much as we can.
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