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The Nicomachean Ethics (Penguin Classics) Paperback – December 30, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Greek (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Aristotle was born in 384 BC, and studied in Athens under Plato. His writings were of extraordinary range, and many of them have survived. He died in 323 BC.

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (March 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140449493
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140449495
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Agis Liberakis on June 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book almost accidentaly, for having nothing better to do one night on a business trip to Pretoria. Being Greek, I have a love-hate relationship with the Ancients: brought up to marvel at their genius, but feeling alienated by an education system that force-fed us with sterile, badly translated texts, which always seemed irrelevant to our lifes. This book opened my eyes to the true meaning of "Philosophy". The translation is in modern English, free from the back-to-front syntax of the Ancient Greek text (which makes it impossible to understand the meaning of a sentence until you reach the end of it!).
The subject matter is "Ethics". However, a modern author may have called it something more akin to "The Meaning of Life" or "The Art of Living". Aristotle proceeds with simple and clear logic, to reveal the objective of human struggle in this life. He demonstrates a deep understanding of the Human Being, what we are and what we are not, what makes us act in one way or another and what makes us feel joy or distress. He addresses anxienties of the modern human, such as the question of nature or nurture, the moral action versus the practical, violence versus non-violence. His recommendations for living this life in a manner that is meaningfull and rewarding are profound yet simple. I found myself shaking my head in recognition at every example or conclusion. I felt a fresh wind in my chest, as if it was I who was discovering this knowledge, not some 2.5 thousand year old man.
I recommend this book to anyone who wants to discover more about how to live this life, but feels foreign to current eastern-derived, philosophical/religious fashions which, even when illuminating, can appear alien to the western way of thinking.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Neutiquam Erro on November 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
Aristotle's Ethics by Penguin classics looks deceptively like a paperback novel. It is nothing of the kind, being a densely packed philosophical treatise on the nature of humankind and our relationships with others.

The book, a translation of the Nichomachean Ethics and not Aristotle's earlier Eudemian Ethics, may seem slightly mistitled to a modern audience. It deals primarily with analysis of character and what good character is and is not. Discussion of ethical issues and moral judgements of right and wrong are largely missing. The reader is expected to develop their behaviour towards others by perfecting their own character. For example, courage in its various forms is discussed but the practical application of courage is not. Much of Aristotle's thesis appears obvious to our modern minds but it is important to remember that Aristotle was systemetizing his description of human nature in an effort to understand it. Unfortunately this makes for a rather dry read.

The book also contains a lengthy introduction by Jonathan Barnes. While it is acessible to the general audience, a background in philosophy would be useful to really understand the issues he addresses. There is also a preface by Hugh Tredennick who explains why this new translation is needed - primarily for readability. Between J.A.K. Thompson (the translator), Barnes and Treddennick we appear to have the crème de la crème of Cambridge and Oxford Aristotaleans involved in this little book. The introduction has a substantial bibliography in its own right and the book includes 10 brief appendices which provide background on the philosophical ideas in the text. These are critical to understanding the book if you aren't widely read in the early Greek philosophers.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By TEK on January 3, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are a couple of features about this particular edition of Aristotle's "Ethics" (to be clear, I am referring to the 2004 edition published by Penguin Classics) that I think are praiseworthy and worthy of mention. As some of the other reviewers of this edition have pointed out, the introduction by Jonathan Barnes is most helpful in providing the reader with a sturdy foundation on which to stand while reading this work. At roughly 30 pages long, Barnes' introduction is the perfect length. It provides a great foundation without becoming a full exposition itself. Another thing I like about this book is the editing, which utilizes a number of helpful tools to enhance readability. In particular, the editor (Hugh Tredennick) uses plenty of footnotes and inserts into the text itself (demarcated by angled brackets). In a couple of instances Tredennick even changes the order in which the text has traditionally been found; this he does because the logic of Aristotle's argument flows better if slightly re-ordered. In sum, then, the Penguin Classics edition of Aristotle's "Ethics" is very approachable and I highly recommend it for those who are just getting introduced to Aristotle's works.

Aside from reviewing the specific edition here, I would also like to make a couple of critical remarks about the text itself. This is a difficult thing to do with classics such as this because the historical influence and importance of the text renders such remarks not a little superfluous. Nevertheless, a few limited thoughts might be in order.

First, one other reviewer has commented on the relation of the "Ethics" to Christianity. I, too, am a Christian, and I think it is important to offer reviews explicitly informed by my faith.
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