The Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle

I am by now used to Aristotle’s inimitable dullness, but this is actually one of his more readable and engaging works. What constitutes the good life? Aristotle believes that a happy life is necessarily a virtuous life, something I myself have grave doubts about. Unlike most Americans, he believes virtue is best exercised in the field of politics. He believes virtue is something that should be taught at a young age, by the state if possible, otherwise by the parents. He believes anything in excess is a vice, including humility. Moderation is his formula for virtue in every aspect of life. However, as a true philosopher, he believes the greatest happiness lies in contemplation rather than action. Aristotle’s ethics are obviously not the ethics of a Christian saint; they are rather the code of an aristocratic gentleman who has the leisure to pursue the finer things in life. Yet in many way Aristotelean morality is both more practical and more practicable than Christian morality.

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