Eudemian Ethics

Eudemian Ethics

Eudemian Ethics

Eudemian Ethics


Anyone seriously interested in Aristotle's moral philosophy must take full account of the Eudemian Ethics, a work which has in the past been unduly neglected in favor of the better-known Nicomachean Ethics. The relation between the two treatises is now the subject of lively debate. This volume contains a translation of three of the eight books of the Eudemian Ethics--those that are likely to be of most interest to philosophers today--together with a philosophical commentary on these books from a contemporary point of view. Like the other volumes in the series, it is intended to serve the needs of readers of Aristotle without a knowledge of Greek, and the aim in the translation has been to give as accurate an idea as possible of Aristotle's text. The Clarendon Aristotle Series is designed for both students and professionals. It provides accurate translations of selected Aristotelian texts, accompanied by incisive commentaries which focus on philosophical problems and issues. The volumes in the series have been widely welcomed and favorably reviewed. Important new titles are being added to the series, and a number of well-established volumes are being reissued with revisions and/or supplementary material. Series editors: J. L. Ackrill and Lindsay Judson.


The purpose of this volume, as of others in the series, is to provide a new translation of a philosophical text of Aristotle, of a kind to serve the needs of philosophers without knowledge of Greek, and a philosophical commentary. Of the five books of the Eudemian Ethics that do not overlap with the Nicomachean Ethics, the three translated in this volume are likely to be of the greatest interest to readers of the present day.

This work of Aristotle's presents special difficulties to a translator, because the text is in an extremely poor state, especially in Book VIII, and in many passages it is not possible to reconstruct what Aristotle wrote with any confidence. Although in many passages at least the general sense is clear, in some cases doubts about readings are the source of uncertainty about major points of interpretation. In consequence, a large number of passages have had to be mentioned in the Notes on the Text and Translation, and I have found it necessary, for reasons of space, often simply to give the text adopted for the translation, without offering a full defence of my choice, or referring to alternative proposals. Where a point of major philosophical interest turns on the textual reading adopted, I have tried to make this clear in the Commentary. It was not possible, with this work, to take one edition of the Greek text as a base and simply note deviations.

In the translation, in accordance with the policy of the series, I have aimed at producing a version as close as possible to the original, even at the cost, sometimes, of elegance and conformity to English idiom. In the Glossary are given the renderings of some of the more philosophically important Greek words and phrases. Wherever possible, a uniform rendering of a given expression has been used in the translation.

It is a pleasure to record a debt of gratitude to many people with whom I have discussed Aristotle's ethics, and this work in particular, over a number of years. I benefited from attending the meetings of the Symposium Aristotelicum, held in Oosterbeek, Holland, in 1969. The late Richard Walzer made available to me his draft for an Oxford Classical Text of the E.E., making use of earlier work of the late Sir David Ross. More recently, after Walzer's death, Mr D. A. F. M. Russell has allowed me to see some further documents, including some textual proposals of his own, and comments on the suggestions of Ross and Walzer. As . . .

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