on July 25, 2001
It is more than a little amusing to see reviewers stumbling over their tongues to comment on Aristotle. Volumes--no, entire libraries--have been dedicated to Aristotelian commentary. I doubt any prospective Amazon buyer cares what Joe Smith from Anytown, USA thinks of Aristotle. What would be helpful is an assessment of the particular translations.
Hands down, Martin Ostwald's is, in my opinion, the best available. Well-annotated, with no interpretive essay to clutter the text, Ostwald immerses himself in the Athenian moral vocabulary, to our great benefit. Especially worthwhile is the glossary of oft-used, untranslatable ethical terms at the end of the book. Here, Ostwald clearly shows that the Greeks could convey in scant semantic space what it takes us an entire paragraph to even approximately explain.
on April 17, 2009
Wow! I'm reviewing Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics! First, I read this first at college 25 years ago. Re-reading it provided me an amazing a-ha!!! So much more made sense to me! It's one of those texts that is worth re-reading a couple of times in one's life, for as we mature, we are privy to new insights offered by this great person. First, this translation contained at least a half dozen translation errors. What I found to be errors off the cuff makes me wonder what other errors might have been made in the translation and editing process. The errors that I found were minor and would not have altered my decision to purchase this masterpiece. Second, while brilliant and while he discusses the values and virtues and deficits and aspirations and social processes, this piece does not focus upon the applied ethics that I most enjoy. I give this a solid "A" and highly recommend it for anyone who wishes to study human nature and ethical conflicts. Overall, the translation is probably easier to read than an older translation, most likely because of the difference between today's and yesterday's more eloquent English. Again, outstanding reading!
on July 10, 2015
Having read various summaries of Thomas Aquinas epic Summa Theologica (and a few sections of the very book) I was keen on tracing back to the inspiration of Thomas Aquinas masterpiece - Aristotle and his Nicomachean Ethics.
For being 2350 years old, the wisdom contained in the book is timeless and is as relevant today as it was when it was written 350 BC as it relates to human character and behaviour. Aristotle did not hesitate to treat fundamental questions such as the meaning of life, where he infers that the meaning of life must be the pursuit of happiness. Evidentally he concludes that virtuous behaviour contributes to happiness and accordingly virtuous behaviour is critical to a meaningful life, which is well in line with Thomas Aquinas and subsequent Christian thinkers.
Among key topics in the book are Aristotle's treatise of virtues as a balance between two extremes, where he distinguishes between moral and intellectual virtues.
Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics offers useful tools for the analysis of proper conduct and serves as a guideline and a stable moral platform in a high pace modern world where people all too often strive for futile objectives, driven by greed and fear.
on March 17, 2016
Let me start this review by stating that Aristotle has always been my go to guy for insight in regards to how things really are. Aristotle became one of my favorite philosophers after the first time I read about him. Aristotle to me is the ultimate point man, he's the ultimate right hand man! This guy's intellect is outstanding! Aristotle's insight is truly one of a kind...well,(scratches the noggin) I should say two, three, four, five of a kind because this guy is so versatile in his thinking that it's hard to believe he came to all these conclusions on his own. It comes across like a meeting of the minds, brilliant minds, but his thoughts are his own though...genius. Now to address the formalities: I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who is comfortable with waddling in the shallow end of the pool at all. This book is deep! Aristotle's teachings are ocean floor deep, scuba gear might be required. I also wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who is impatient or hasty in their thought process. There are some idle moments in between the time he starts in on a subject until the time he reaches a conclusion, but it's always worth it in the end though. That maybe why there are so many different translations of it.
Now that that's out of the way, let me get into why I love this guy's point of view. First of all : Aristotle was so legit that King Phillip hand picked him to educate his son Alexander. Aristotle was so bossy about it that he told Phillip to keep the classroom, the only way he would agree was if Phillip built him an entire school! Now that's what you call clout! Anyway, Alexander went on to be great, hence the name "Alexander The Great". If I were preparing to establish my empire, while simultaneously envisioning a dynasty, and I could hand pick anybody to be my point man, I would probably choose Aristotle and here's why: There were many kings throughout ancient history; and there were many different types, personalities, and characteristics among them. I've narrowed it down to three different types: The noble king, the warrior king, and the wise king. Some of the most infamous kings were warrior kings, like Julius Caesar and "Alexander The Great"; who specialized in hostile takeovers through the use of brute force. Every once in a while there would come along a wise king like Marcus Aurelius; whose profound insight and great authoritative principles still resonate with people in positions of leadership all across the world to this day. Then there's the noble king, like Fredrich Wilhelm; who along with Otto Von Bismarck maintained leadership by earning the trust of his territory's occupants, and making thoughtful decisions that would ultimately benefit all it's inhabitants for the better throughout his reign. Wilhelm and Bismarck were able to unify Germany and enjoy relative peace as a result.
Now there were kings who made reckless decisions during their reign, like "Alexander The Great"; who once he had acquired a substantial amount of power begin to abandon the teachings of Aristotle and behave in a manner contrary to how he was brought up. He engaged in behavior that wasn't very becoming of "The Magnanimous Man". Although, very powerful while he was alive, he had left such a bad taste in the mouths of his territories inhabitants that soon after Alexander was dead his entire blood line was executed. The abuse of power is usually the culprit when events like this take place. The same as with the case of King Tarquinius and his son Sextus who were overthrown due to abuse of power. The people I just listed were people who were only able to acquire kingdoms in their lifetime, but having someone like Aristotle in your corner on a consistent basis is how you would actually establish and sustain a kingdom, there's a big difference. What "Alexander The Great" experienced in his time was the equivalent of 15 minutes of fame, compared to a legacy he could've passed down from generation to generation had he not abandoned the doctrines of Aristotle.
That's all ancient history though. Fast forward to today. You don't have to ascend from royalty to utilize Aristotle's insight and helpful advice. I believe that the greatness that Aristotle aimed to withdraw from his pupils back then resides likewise in us all today. It just manifest itself in various ways. The way to access our true excellence is by exercising moral virtue as Aristotle so adamantly stresses throughout his teachings. There are so many different translations and versions of Aristotle's work being taught and read all across the world that it is impossible to deny the impact he has had on our society, even today. Aristotle was an excellent thinker and I believe we could all benefit from his insight in some way or another. Paul Mccartney wrote "Eleanor Rigby" for the Beatles, but Ray Charles got a hold of it an sang it as if he saw the entire story unfold with his own two eyes, and in that instance one group of great people from a totally different place, in a totally different part of the world were able to connect with another group of great people, essentially because of one party describing a scenario that the other could relate to somehow. This is what you call true genius! Besides the vices, the negative aspects of being a megastar, which I'm sure Aristotle would strongly advise against, I like to think that when a freakishly sublime, extraordinarily unseemly occurrence of greatness just mysteriously happens like this out of nowhere that Aristotle is sitting next to the king of kings smiling and saying, "see I told you".
Aristotle saw the greatness in us all even way back then in his era, and I always appreciate when I come across something that I feel like was laid out for my benefit. Somewhere, in the roughest part of town, in what would be considered the slums by anybodies standards, there's a young person observing their surroundings, and where everyone else who is looking only sees dirt, that person sees diamonds. Where everyone else who looks only sees rubble, that person only sees a kingdom that has yet to be built. I recommend this book to that person. Aristotle is the man who can help you understand your brilliance and also cultivate the greatness that resides within you. Somewhere on the lower end of the totem pole, there's someone who where other people only notice the misfortune sees an opportunity to shine and a chance to overcome a challenge. Maybe someone who knows their value when others don't, and knows that they have what it takes to be great and is working to move up in the company structure or something to that effect, this book will definitely help you access the greatness that resides in you. Besides that I recommend this book to anyone who seeks a better understanding in regards to the nature of things and how the world works, this book would definitely benefit you.