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Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics Paperback – April 23, 2012
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I think the 'literalness' of the translation is a bit overstated, though it seems to be the best one available (better than Reeve's recent translation, certainly.) But expect a manifestly strong ‘Straussian’ influence, and this goes too for the 65 page interpretive essay accompanying the text. The essay is thought provoking if sometimes pretty under-motivated in its use of evidence; it doesn't seem like Straussianism is quite as conducive to Aristotle as to Plato (hence, one would think, Strauss's relative dearth of commentaries on the former—not that it stops his dsiciples).
Anyway, the assimilation of Aristotelian terms of art in the body of the translation to the terms employed in Bloom's translation of Plato's Republic is both interesting and possibly misleading. Nevertheless, this seems to me to be the best translation available.
Because we Americans celebrate the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, I should mention that Aristotle discussed happiness in detail in his NICOMACHEAN ETHICS centuries before the pursuit of happiness was mentioned in the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
In his 1961 inaugural address President John F. Kennedy famously urged Americans not to ask what their country can do for them but what they can do for their country. In this way, he urged the American citizens to be the aristocrats for their country. At one point in their interpretive essay, Bartlett (born 1964) and Collins (born 1960) seems to echo President Kennedy's wording when they say that "justice and friendship are said to exist also to the extent to which each member seeks not or not only his own advantage but also the advantage of the community as a whole" (page 290).
The lengthy interpretive essay (pages 237-302) is accessible and informative. But I do have an admittedly small objection to one paragraph (pages 257-258). Bartlett and Collins start the paragraph by saying that they are going "to speak now more explicitly than Aristotle does" about a certain difficulty they see with maintaining that in the case of courage the same action is both noble and good. On the one hand, I suspect that Aristotle does not speak more explicitly about this matter because he understands the warrior's heroic code. On the other hand, I suspect that Bartlett and Collins do not understand the warrior's heroic code because they have been habituated to the anti-hero in modern literature.
Later on (pages 292-293), however, Bartlett and Collins supply a paragraph that answers the difficulty they saw earlier but that Aristotle had not spoken about in the earlier text. They point out that "the serious man is a self-lover, [and] his noble action contributes to the good of another and the common good. His preference for noble action over all other goods explains his extraordinary choice in certain circumstances even to forsake his life in behalf of his friends or city; it explains, as well, his preference `to feel pleasure intensely for a short time over feeling it mildly for a long time, to live nobly for one year over living in a haphazard way for many years, and to do one great and noble action over many small ones' (1169a22-25). His noble action thus makes him a good friend and citizen, even though he is a self-lover in this way and not as the many are."
In any event, Aristotle's NICOMACHEAN ETHICS is one of the most thought-provoking works ever written, and Bartlett and Collins have provided us with a fine translation of it.