The Nicomachean Ethics

The Nicomachean Ethics - Aristotle, J.A.K. Thomson, Jonathan Barnes, Hugh Tredennick Happiness is what we do for its own sake. Our virtues (excellence) are either moral or contemplative. Our moral virtues allow us to work with others and practice the good habits we need in order to be noble and good. The highest virtues we have are the thinking (contemplative) virtues and they make us the most divine like relative to ourselves.

There is a lot to really love within this book. Our truest nature and happiness come about through learning and thinking about the world and it's nature by loving wisdom (philosophy) and thinking. Hedonistic pleasure as an end in itself is only good in as far as we use it to recharge our batteries in order that we may pursue our most divine part of ourselves. Our most divine self is the part of ourselves that makes us think and learn about the world and the universe of which we live in.

I think Aristotle would agree with this: people need to wake-up and stop allowing themselves to be diverted by the shiny marbles that pop up constantly and we need to stop doing diversions and start thinking for real. Our distractions are fine, but only up to the point that they enable our true selves to become actualized.

There is actually an incredibly good self help book inside of this book. After all, what is happiness and what does it mean, and how we acquire it is at the heart of all of the modern day self help books which I never read because they don't understand any where near as well as Aristotle did over 2000 years ago.

When I realized that Aristotle was really giving a handbook for how I have been leading my life for the last eight years by mostly obsessively reading books (mostly philosophy, science or history) that make me think and avoiding as much as possible distractions from others (not completely, because after all no man is an island) and I realized how great of a book this book really is.

The problem is that Aristotle is always prolix (tediously long) in his writing. He has neanderthal opinions about women ('men have endurance' and 'women and Persians vacillate'). He has long sections in the book on the virtues and the corresponding opposite vice and says the mean is the preferred position regarding the moral virtues; he has a pernicious teleology, and the wrong headed notions on 'essence' or 'substance' as being real, and etc.. When the wheat is separated from the chaff in this book, the wheat is well worth having.

After having had listened to this book for free through LivbiVox, I no longer have to semi-apologize for the path I've taken when I'm forced to meet people from time to time which mostly distracts me and takes me away from following the best path to happiness that Aristotle recommends for those who are so inclined, and I do believe that most of the people I meet tend to agree but the demands of live in general presses them into a different path than the one I'm allowed to pursue and for which is advocated throughout this book.