Republic Book II:
-Know the three classes of goods that Glaucon distinguishes at the beginning of the book; these are stated at the beginning of Book II; see p. 65. -Socrates says that justice is the highest or best kind of good. It is the sort of good that is desirable for its own sake, and for the sake of the consequences it brings. (Acting justly is both valuable to us in itself apart from its consequences, but it also is good insofar as being just brings about good consequences). -Glaucon argues that justice is of a lesser type of good: it is the sort of good that is desirable for the sake of its consequences, but not desirable for its own sake. (Acting justly thus is valuable for the sake of the good consequences it brings about, but that’s it. Acting justly is not good in itself: there is nothing valuable about acting justly apart from its consequences.) -This is why Glaucon thinks that you might as well practice injustice while putting on a reputation for justice. Like working or going to the doctor, acting justly is in itself undesirable. If acting justly is not desirable for its own sake, but only for its consequences, then why not practice injustice while still reaping all the good consequences that practicing justice brings by making yourself appear as if you are a actually a true practitioner of justice? -Thus Glaucon defends the view in order to attain the best or happiest life we should practice injustice (since doing so is beneficial to us) while at the same time gaining a reputation for justice: that way we can attain all the good things that just people attain by actually practicing justice. -He also says that common view of justice is that it is a necessary evil. By nature we desire to practice injustice because by its nature it is a good thing; it is advantageous. But when we practice injustice towards others we put ourselves at risk of being retaliated against by those towards which we are unjust. Now, suffering injustice is a very bad thing, so bad in fact that we came to a mutual agreement to practice justice in order to avoid the greater evil of suffering injustice (to avoid retaliation). That is the common view of justice.
Nichomachean Ethics, Book I
-The human good (the chief good for man), is according to Aristotle (and the Greeks in general) happiness (living well, the good life). Happiness is a kind of life. -The chief good for man must be distinguished from subordinate ends/goods. These include health, honor, virtue, pleasure, wealth, the goods produced by crafts/arts—ships are produced by the art of shipbuilding for example and houses are produced by the art of house-building. [I use the terms ‘end’ and ‘good’ interchangeably here, but why? Here is why. Remember that an ‘end’ is the goal or purpose we are trying achieve in any given action or activity. But whatever we pursue as an end is something we consider to be a good. Thus, e.g., we aim to achieve the end/goal of health because we take it to be a good. And likewise for any other end we pursue]. -Subordinate ends are things which we desire to achieve, but they are also desirable for the sake of something else. Any subordinate end is subordinate in the sense that we pursue it for the sake of achieving some other end which is higher or more desirable. Thus the goal of completing a house is subordinate to, or serves, the higher end/goal of providing shelter, which in turn is subordinate to other ends. -We ultimately desire these subordinate ends for the sake of happiness because we think that achieving them will ultimately contribute to a happy life.
-An extremely important feature of the chief good, i.e. happiness, is this: it is desirable for its own sake, but never for the sake of anything else. We can think of it has the highest of all ends, or the most ultimate end. The pursuit of this end is never subordinate to the pursuit of any other end. -This point about the chief good is crucial to understanding Aristotle’s objections...
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