Dialogue 42 (4):673-694 (2003)

John Thorp
University of Western Ontario
Aristotle’s treatment of brutishness in the Nicomachean Ethics is very brief: a couple of paragraphs in the first chapter of Book VII, and most of Chapter 5 of the same book, together with some glancing references in Chapter 6. Commentators standardly give these passages short shrift indeed, if they do not ignore them altogether. In antiquity Aspasius commented on the Ethics, but, by great ill luck, his commentary on the first half of Book 7 is lost. A twelfth- or thirteenth-century commentary known as “Anonymous” exists, but, in the words of Friedrich Schleiermacher, it “exceeds everything in poverty.” Aquinas comments helpfully on some items in the passage, but its doctrine does not find its way into his own moral theory, and indeed in his language the Latin word bestialitas, which standardly renders the Greek thêriotês, is taken over to denote sexual relations between members of different species. Dante makes a brief though striking reference to Aristotle’s discussion, but he gets it wrong. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the translators furnish occasional notes of interest; the line-by-line commentators go through the passage with small points of explanation but the overall theory does not seem to capture their attention; the more thematic commentators largely ignore it; and, to my knowledge, no article or monograph exists upon it. The beguiling issues of the Ethics, it appears, lie elsewhere: the function argument and the nature of happiness, the nature of virtue, the voluntary and involuntary, the distinction between vice and weakness, the place of contemplation in the happy life. On these subjects the literature is numbingly massive.
Keywords Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0012-2173
DOI dialogue200342466
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References found in this work BETA

Aristotle's Ethics.D. Mckerlie - 2001 - Mind 110 (440):1046-1050.
Aristotle: The Nicomachean Ethics.Glenn R. Morrow - 1953 - Philosophical Review 62 (1):129-133.
The Ethics of Aristotle.F. M. Cornford - 1902 - International Journal of Ethics 12 (2):239-247.
Aristotle on Pleasure and the Worst Form of Akrasia.Devin Henry - 2002 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 5 (3):255-270.

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Noble Animals, Brutish Animals.Marcus Hunt - 2021 - Between the Species 24 (1):70-92.

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