21 April 2005

For the Lazy Among Us

For the lazy among us, difficulties stated by Annas:

  1. Lear presumes without argument or explanation that the Nicomachean Ethics is an integral work of philosophy: "she nowhere defends her assumptions about the text, and explicitly (p 5) lays aside the relationship of the Nicomachean to the Eudemian version. "
  2. Aristotle never so much as states that practical reasoning, or actions of the virtues of character, are 'approximations' to philosophical contemplation. Consequently, Lear must hold that readers of the Ethics "will radically fail to understand it if they attend to it alone. They will understand it only if they come equipped with knowledge of Aristotle's physical and metaphysical works, and prepared to interpret the work from the beginning in the light of ideas which are expressed only at the end." Annas concedes the view is possible, but it needs defending.
  3. Lear holds that an action that is an 'approximation' to philosophical contemplation is choiceworthy as being such, even if it is not recognized as being such; she also concedes that most people when they perform virtuous actions do not recognize them as approximations to contemplation; hence "[m]ost of us most of the time, even if we make progress in virtue, are thus missing an understanding of what ultimately makes our actions valuable"--which seems strange.

Almeida particularly emphasizes 3, but otherwise I don't find that he offers any criticisms additional to these.