On Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics 8-9 (Ancient Commentators on Aristotle)

On Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics 8-9 (Ancient Commentators on Aristotle)

Aspasius, Michael of Ephesus

Language: English

Pages: 248

ISBN: 2:00281792

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Publish Year note: First published in 2001 by Gerald Duckworth & Co and 2014 in paperback

Aristotle devotes books 8-9 of the Nicomachean Ethics to friendship, distinguishing three kinds: a primary kind motivated by the other's character; and other kinds motivated by utility or pleasure. He takes up Plato's idea that one knows oneself better as reflected in another's eyes, as providing one of the benefits of friendship, and he also sees true friendship as modelled on true self-love. He further compares friendship with justice, and illustrates the ubiquity of friendship by referring to the way in which we help wayfarers as if they were kin (oikeion), a word he takes from Plato's discussion of love. In many of these respects he probably influenced the Stoic theory of justice as based on the natural kinship (oikeiotes) one feels initially for oneself at birth and, eventually, for lost wayfarers. Of the three commentaries translated here, that by the second-century AD Aristotelian Aspasius is the earliest extant commentary on Aristotle; the second is by Michael of Ephesus in the twelfth century; the third is of unknown date and authorship. Aspasius worries whether there is only one kind of friendship with a single definition.But he plumps for a verdict not given by Aristotle, that the primary kind of friendship serves as a focal point for defining the other two. Aspasius picks up connections with his Stoic contemporaries. Michael cites Christians and draws from Neoplatonists the idea that there is a self-aware part of the soul, and that Aristotle saw individuals as bundles of properties.





















Now, according to the primary kind base men will not be friends with one another, for decent men love each other on account of virtue, but base men have no share either in virtue or in the love based on it. But base men too might become friends because of pleasure, for it is possible for some wicked men to provide pleasure to one another and through this to adjoin to one another the love based on pleasure. They might also become friends on account of the useful, for some men are base, but turn

are such types; but some are inexperienced and without a notion of what is in accord with value. Therefore, they bring complaints against one another, the one saying that he received less than what was due, the other that he has given more than the value. In the case of such people, [Aristotle] says, ‘it is necessary that he who foreholds establish it [i.e., the return]’ (1164b9). Perhaps he calls the one who confers first ‘he who foreholds’ because he holds what he has given before giving it.15

example civic and paternal [justice] and that of the slavemaster; of these the most just is the civic, which is something similar to the loving [kind], for it accords with the equality of the partners. It has been said that love also wishes friends to be as friendly as possible [cf. 1155a29-30]. Perhaps one might also in this way understand that of all just things the most just is that toward friends. For toward these one must above all maintain the loving [relationships] that are called just. He

[Aristotle] added ‘but almost not even to the base’ (1166b6-7), having appended ‘almost’ on account of people without self-control. For the goods that have been mentioned seem to pertain to other base people, but to those without self-control they do not [even] seem to pertain; thus, [they seem to pertain] almost to all, but not simply to all. But why do they not seem to pertain to those without self-control? Because, although they wish the good things of human beings, which are in fact properly

And he indicated the major premise, the one that says ‘one who does everything for the sake of himself [is base]’, by this: a base person seems to do everything for the sake of himself, and the more wicked and evil he is, the more he does things for the sake of himself. It being necessary to say, ‘one who does everything for the sake of himself is base’, [Aristotle] did not speak thus, but rather [said] that a base person does everything for the sake of himself, construing the proposition as

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