Moral Norms and Moral Order: The Philosophy of Human Affairs

Moral Norms and Moral Order: The Philosophy of Human Affairs

Moral Norms and Moral Order: The Philosophy of Human Affairs

Moral Norms and Moral Order: The Philosophy of Human Affairs

Excerpt

Aristotle, in the concluding section of the Nicomachean Ethics, speaks of his ethical theory as the philosophy of human affairs (ἡ περὶ τὰ ἀνθ ρ ώπινα ϕιλοσοϕία). In summarizing his lengthy treatment of moral questions, Aristotle is satisfied that adequate discussion has been given to happiness and virtue and to friendship and pleasure as intrinsic goods. He recognizes at the same time that virtue is something to be practiced as well as possessed, and that attention must be given to the ways in which the practice of virtue, which is always difficult, can be supported against the allurement of passion. This brings Aristotle to speak of the function of law and public regulation in the nurture of the good man, a matter to be pursued in a separate treatise on politics. While there are individual writings on ethics and politics, it is clear that Aristotle thought of the two investigations as having the same task, namely, the elucidation of moral nobility and justice (τὰ δὲ καλὰ καὶ τὰ δίκαια).

This book has been written in agreement with Aristotle's inclusive view of human affairs as a subject embracing, as one whole, matters that today would be regarded as properly treated under separate headings of ethics, politics, and law. Distinctions introduced into a complex subject matter are use-

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