A close reading in Greek of some of the most important passages in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics: passages will be chosen to give an overview of the work as a whole, to give students the opportunity to study well-known arguments in the original language, and because of the inherent, philological, or historical interest of those passages.
There is a triple goal of this course. The course is designed to help students:
to gain a better appreciation of the cultural and historical background of Aristotle’s ethics;
to grow in the ability to read classical Greek;
to develop habits of accurate thought in construing philosophical statements and arguments.
In sum, the course is about foundations – the foundation of historical, cultural, and philosophical studies in the careful and accurate construal of texts: truth is found in the details. It is also about the integration of distinct skills in a single study—philological, literary, historical, and philosophical.
Tuesday sessions will be led by a student. Thursday sessions will be a group reading and discussion. In the Tuesday session, the leader should give a “division of the text;” explain how to construe more challenging phrases or constructions; discuss pertinent issues of textual criticism; and draw attention to interesting philosophical points, raising difficulties as appropriate.
There are two ways in which work can be counted for a grade in this course, and students are asked at the beginning of the semester to declare what option they are selecting. Option 1, is to have the entire grade based on classwork, with 80% being allotted to that student’s Tuesday presentations, and 20% being allotted to general participation in the class. This is the recommended option. Option 2, is to have the grade based as well on a final paper: 40% class presentations; 20% general participation; and 40% final paper. This option is recommended for students who are applying to graduate school and would consider using a paper from this course in their graduate school application. (One or two students in the course have been admitted who probably do not have sufficient ability in Greek to participate actively in the course. Their grade will be based on a mixture of class participation, 50%, and an oral examination, 50%.)
St. Thomas Aquinas, Sententia Libri Ethicorum Readings and Discussants
We will go at a comfortable pace and concentrate on parts of the treatise that most interest students. We’ll plan to work through I.1-8 and II.1-6, but after that we can drill down and look more closely at particular topics (responsibility, a particular virtue, weakness of will, friendship) or a particular book (e.g. the books on friendship), depending on what seems interesting to students. At the first session we’ll agree on a rotation for student presentations. The first two weeks will be common reading. Student presentations will begin on Tuesday, Sept. 11.