From Library Journal
Running counter to the generally stated view that Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics is "a moral textbook written for an indeterminate audience," Smith argues instead that the Ethics "is a pedagogy and so must be read in light of the demands imposed by teaching and learning about politics in a tradition." Smith holds that the Ethics is not "an introduction to a value-neutral discipline. Rather, it is a course or teaching that means to explore the question of the best life as it appears from the perspective of one particular horizon that inhabited by ambitious young men of the ancient Greek city-state." Smith notes that since Aristotle was writing in a time of transition in the Greek world (Aristotle had gone to Macedon in 343 B.C.E. to tutor Alexander, the future son of Philip of Macedon; the Peloponnesian Wars had ended in 404 B.C.E.), the Ethics should be read as a dialectical pedagogy that is, as a text wherein inquiry takes priority over answers. Smith presents a very strong case for his reading of the Ethics, and his arguments should engender some stimulating and refreshing debate on a significant work in the Western philosophical canon. Highly recommended. Terry C. Skeats, Bishop's Univ. Lib., Lennoxville, Quebec
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From the Back Cover
Revaluing Ethics criticizes the notion that the Nicomachean Ethics is a moral textbook written for an indeterminate audience. Rather, Smith argues that the Ethics is a pedagogy and so must be read in light of the demands imposed by teaching and learning about politics in a tradition. Smith claims that the Ethics initially seeks common ground with ambitious, virile young citizens of ancient city-states who valorize honorable action and competition. Their love of honor can be a spur to virtue, but the competitive character of its pursuit also leads to despotic and factional politics. The drama of the Ethics lies in the dialectical engagement and transformation of a valorization of prestige and power. Aristotle shows how these commitments are paradoxically sterile when pursued in practice. In turn, Aristotle's strategy for reforming political life is to argue for the reorientation of his audience's desires away from the non-shareable external goods of political power and honor to shareable good. His strategy for reforming personal life is to argue for the reorientation of his audience's desires away from honor to a love of contemplation.