Nikomachische Ethik

by Aristoteles

Other authorsFranz Dirlmeier (Translator)
Paperback, 1999



Call number

CD 2054 N693



Stuttgart Reclam 1999


This new edition of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics is an accurate, readable and accessible translation of one of the world's greatest ethical works. Based on lectures Aristotle gave in Athens in the fourth century BCE, Nicomachean Ethics is one of the most significant works in moral philosophy, and has profoundly influenced the whole course of subsequent philosophical endeavour. It offers seminal, practically oriented discussions of many central ethical issues, including the role of luck in human well-being, moral education, responsibility, courage, justice, moral weakness, friendship and pleasure, with an emphasis on the exercise of virtue as the key to human happiness. This second edition offers an updated editor's introduction and suggestions for further reading, and incorporates the line numbers as well as the page numbers of the Greek text. With its emphasis on accuracy and readability, it will enable readers without Greek to come as close as possible to Aristotle's work.… (more)

Media reviews

The volume before us is much more than a translation. The translators, Robert C. Bartlett, who teaches Hellenic politics at Boston College, and Susan D. Collins, a political scientist at the University of Houston, have provided helpful aids. ... Together these bring the original text within the
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compass of every intelligent reader.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
Plato and Aristotle between them not only laid the foundations for Western philosophy, many would argue they divided it neatly between them: Plato the one who with his "Allegory of the Cave" gave birth to the idea of an existence beyond our senses, giving a rational gloss to mysticism. Aristotle,
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the father of logic and a scientist, with a this-world orientation. There's a famous fresco by Raphael, "The School of Athens," where that's illustrated, where the figure meant to be Plato points to the sky--the heavens--while Aristotle points to the ground--to this Earth. If you're going to ask me which school I belong to--at least as so categorized, Aristotle wins, hands down. Yet if you ask me which philosopher I found a joy to read, which a slog--well, Plato wins.

Unfortunately, much of Aristotle's works were lost, and what remains I've seen described as not his polished material, but "lecture notes." Plato's dialogues are like little plays, and reading them often are, I daresay, fun. Yes, really. So it was disappointing not to find Aristotle as lively a read. This is dry stuff. But then there are the ideas, which fully earn the five stars. Back when I was introduced to ethics in school, about the only two choices we were given was Utilitarianism--the "greatest good for the greatest number" or Kant and his "categorical imperative" with examples contrasting them such as, under Utilitarianism, if torture leads to good for the greatest number, then by all means, let the water boarding begin! Under the categorical imperative, on the other hand, rules... well, rule. It doesn't matter if there's a ticking atomic bomb, you don't use torture. You're not supposed to care about practical consequences, to yourself or others. What's left out of both philosophies is the individual and his or her happiness. But that's not left out with Aristotle. For him ethics is practical and about the pursuit of happiness. It's for that and from that virtues flow. It's in our personal interest to be virtuous, to practice habits of character that lead to a good life for a human being. Those ethics that appeal and resonate to me come from this school of thought. It's philosophy for human beings, on a human level. So, Plato for style--Aristotle for substance. For me, anyway.
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LibraryThing member booksontrial
Aristotle vs. Plato

Having just finished and enjoyed Plato's complete works, I find this book a bit annoying and uninspiring in comparison. Aristotle seems to take every opportunity to "correct" Plato, when in fact he is only attacking a strawman. His arguments, sometimes self-contradictory, often
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support and clarify Plato's ideas, albeit using his own terminology.

Aristotle seems to have great difficulty appreciating or understanding Plato’s abstractions (from species to genus, from the individual instances to the common patterns, i.e. Idea or Form). This is the cause of the majority of his attacks against Plato, as “piety requires us to honour truth above our friends.” How very noble of him!

I don't know whether the Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum charged their students fees. If not, there were no financial incentives in disparaging their rival. If it was purely intellectual rivalry, using straw man is often a sign of an inferior intellect or character. Since both Plato and Aristotle believed that the intellect was the best part of man or the true man, to attack and destroy another's ideas would be equivalent to murder (or Freudian parricide).

However, it could also be true that Aristotle was formulating his own philosophy through engagement with Plato's ideas, and intellectual competitions and debates help facilitate the development of sound ideas. Since this is the first book by Aristotle that I've read, it's very likely that I'm not giving him his due here. It may take some time to switch from Plato to Aristotle's way of thinking.

A Champion of Mediocrity

Aristotle's definitions of good, virtue and happiness are unsatisfactory to me. Good is "that at which all things aim". All people aim at happiness (or pleasure), therefore happiness is the supreme good. But, what exactly is happiness or pleasure? How can one hit his aim if he can't discern what he is aiming at? If virtue is "the mean between deficiency and excess", what is the difference between virtue and mediocrity?

"Pleasure perfects activity not as the formed state that issues in that activity perfects it, by being immanent in it, but as a sort of supervening [culminating] perfection, like the bloom that graces the flower of youth." How can a fleeting thing that lacks permanence be the object of a lifelong pursuit?

In the end, Aristotle agrees with Plato, perhaps begrudgingly as it was dictated by reason, that happiness is contemplation of the divine, which is pleasant, self-sufficient and continuous. He insists on making a distinction between activity and state, but in this instance the distinction is unclear to me.

An Acute Observer of Human Nature

There are a few things I do appreciate in this book. Aristotle's joie de vivre (his delight in learning, being alive and active), his insights into human nature, his clear and penetrating psychological portrayal of various character traits and the dynamic relationships or transactions between human beings. He also introduced me to Pythagorean's fascinating mathematical representation of equality, A:B = B:C and A-M = M -C.
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LibraryThing member Pepperwings
The metaphors and language of this were difficult and if I hadn't been assigned this, I probably would not have slogged through it, but I'm glad I did. After parsing through and re-reading this, it's really quite brilliant, and simple. Of course I can't blame Aristotle too harshly, this is a
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transcription of student lecture notes, and then probably several translations later, it's what we read in English class, so the message does get through, it just takes a labyrinthine path to get there.
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LibraryThing member neurodrew
I read the Nichomachean Ethics portion of the book
I spent a long time with this book, and consulted the Masterpieces of World Philosophy, and another book by Johnathan Lear on the issue, to come to some understanding. The project of grounding ethics in a rational pursuit of the greatest happiness
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is much more attractive than obtaining moral authority from revelation. Aristotle advances the idea that the good is that at which all things aim, and for man the good is happiness. Happiness is defined as the realization of man's essential nature, that is, rational thought, since that is man's differentiating feature from animals. The good for man is the activity of the soul in accord with reason. To act in accord with reason is generally to choose the mean between extremes of conduct; to be courageous is neither to be rash or cowardly. Some acts, however, are absolutely bad, such as murder. The good life involves friendship, preferably of the kind that is the mutual association of free souls without regard to usefulness or pleasure. The highest good, however, because it needs the fewest external goods and most resembles the state of the gods, is contemplation

Aristotle is difficult going in translation, and not all of the book, especially about continence and incontinence, made sense to me. I was pleased by the rational development of arguments, and the patient consideration of all alternatives.
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LibraryThing member jpsnow
So simple, so straightforward, so much sense. Quoting the translator's comments [unfortunately, name or edition unknown]: "Happiness for Aristotle is the activity of the soul in accordance with virtue. Virtue is shown in the deliberate choice of actions as part of a worked-out plan of life, a plan
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which takes a middle course between excess and deficiency. This is the famous doctrine of the golden mean -- courage, for example, is a mean between cowardice and rashness, and justice between a man's getting more or less than his due. The supreme happiness, according to Aristotle, is to be found in a life of philosophical contemplation; but this is only possible for the few, and a secondary kind of happiness is available in a virtuous life of political activity." From introduction: "One is that it is the life of pleasure; but the life which aims at pleasure, regardless of the source from which it is derived, is worthy of beasts rather than of men. The political life aims at honour, but honour depends more on him who gives it than on him who gets it. The life of money-making cannot be regarded as an end in itself. There remains a fourth life, the contemplative life; and here he sounds the note which resounds in the final book." It really is in the last part of the last Book X that he brings this point out, but the rest of the work is a logical build-up toward that.
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LibraryThing member Audacity88
One of the most accessible works of Aristotle or ancient philosophy in general, but also one of the most practical, because its subject is ethics, or how to live one's life.
LibraryThing member dhoe
A true revelation for me. I've never read anything from Aristotle before, and I spent quite a lot of time reading papers and websites about the book to better understand it. I guess in a way I always thought about virtues as something boring conservatives talk about, so Aristotles perspective was
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really new and exciting for me.

Also interesting to read in the context of gender (what Aristotle thinks a real man (tm) should be like).
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LibraryThing member pharmakos555
with an approach to ethics that regards virtue/excellence as knowledge of the means between two extremes and the will to act on that knowledge (e.g., courage lies between cowardice and foolhardiness), I'm interested in getting deeper into Aristotle's ethical system as an alternative to absolutist
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approaches to virtue. Also, of course, interested in the extensive discussion of friendship and the types of reltionships one can cultivate (friends of utility, friends of shared interests, and friends of virtue).
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LibraryThing member prudent
Shows almost all types of human character.
LibraryThing member ElTomaso
This is a hard slog but rewarding to the serious thinker.
LibraryThing member Aerow
Middle-of-the-road ethics by a guy who didn't want to offend ANYONE.
LibraryThing member Layabout
Bourgeois before the bourgeoisie.
LibraryThing member albertgoldfain
Comprehensive and well reasoned. Except in those few spots where it strains to use the "golden mean" approach to virtue ethics or suffers from outdated views, this important work has largely stood the test of time.
LibraryThing member Neutiquam_Erro
Aristotle's Ethics by Penguin classics looks deceptively like a paperback novel. It is nothing of the kind, being a densely packed philosophical treatise on the nature of humankind and our relationships with others.

The book, a translation of the Nichomachean Ethics and not Aristotle's earlier
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Eudemian Ethics, may seem slightly mistitled to a modern audience. It deals primarily with analysis of character and what good character is and is not. Discussion of ethical issues and moral judgments of right and wrong are largely missing. The reader is expected to develop their behaviour towards others by perfecting their own character. For example, courage in its various forms is discussed but the practical application of courage is not. Much of Aristotle's thesis appears obvious to our modern minds but it is important to remember that Aristotle was systematizing his description of human nature in an effort to understand it. Unfortunately this makes for a rather dry read.

The book also contains a lengthy introduction by Jonathan Barnes. While it is accessible to the general audience, a background in philosophy would be useful to really understand the issues he addresses. There is also a preface by Hugh Tredennick who explains why this new translation is needed - primarily for readability. Between J.A.K. Thompson (the translator), Barnes and Treddennick we appear to have the crème de la crème of Cambridge and Oxford Aristotaleans involved in this little book. The introduction has a substantial bibliography in its own right and the book includes 10 brief appendices which provide background on the philosophical ideas in the text. These are critical to understanding the book if you aren't widely read in the early Greek philosophers. A glossary of Greek words and an index of names proceeds a general index. Footnotes are brief and unobtrusive but usually helpful.

For couch philosophers and serious students looking for an inexpensive edition of the Nichomachean ethics, this is definitely the version for you. It has surprisingly good scholarly resources for such a slim volume. If, however, you had heard that Aristotle was Alexander the Great's tutor and are trying to conquer the business world this probably won't give you many pointers.
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LibraryThing member sashame
Eh, at least its not Plato. I read this as context/ground for Aristotle's more socially-oriented works.
LibraryThing member jwhenderson
This is Aristotle's classic guide to ethics including the golden mean, the nature of friendship and other topics. While it is more a set of lecture notes than a polished philosophical treatise it still demonstrates the power of the mind of the man behind it.

In the first part he focuses on defining
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the nature of the highest good for human beings. That is the good at which all things aim (1094a3). This highest good is "happiness" by which is meaqnt both "living well" and "doing well" (1095a18); that, more specifically, happiness is "an activitiy of the soul [which] consists in action performed in conjunction with the rational element" (1098a13), "in conformity with excellence or virtue" (1098a15), "in a complete life" 91098a16).

As he does for other subjects Aristotle approaches ethics in an organized and scientific manner with an initial emphasis on definitions such as: what is the good, virtue, justice and moral excellence? He does this with an expectation of only that level of precision that is appropriate for the subject at hand. Over the course of the middle section of the treatise the reader is introduced to the concept of the 'golden mean' by which virtues are discussed with regard to extremes (eg. courage vs. rashness) which allow for a middle ground or mean between the extremes. In book seven he discusses moral strength and weakness, and he follows this in book eight with an analysis of the nature and importance of friendship and the need for it. He makes the case that:
"The perfect form of friendship is that between good men who are alike in excellence or virtue. For these friends wish alike for one an other's good because they are good men, and the are good per se, (that is, their goodness is something intrinsic, not incidental). Those who wish for their friends' good for their friends' sake are friends in the truest sense since their attitude is determined by what their friends are and not by incidental considerations."(1156b, 6-12)

The ethics culminates in a argument for the supreme importance of contemplation. He says,
"But a wise man is able to study even by himself, and the wiser he is the more is he able to do it. . . study (contemplation) seems to be the only activity which is loved for its own sake."(1177a, 33- 1177b, 1)
The ethical principles, the method of demonstration and the sheer power of the ideas presented here make this a valuable guide even as we approach the twenty-first century.
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LibraryThing member le.vert.galant
The vagueries of textual survival have left us with few specimens of Aristotle's prose at its finest. It's equally possible that Aristotle was not as exquisite a writer as his teacher Plato. In either case, this is one of the more cohesive of Aristotle's works, and even so it's somewhat repetitive
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and tedious. But Aristotle's ethical system is more humane: I'd rather live in his world than in Plato's Republic.

In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle writes about friendship, happiness, and virtue in terms that have had a seminal influence on all subsequent ethical discourse in European philosophy. It creates a parallel system to Biblical ethics in shaping Western ideals of the good. So, a dull but vitally important work.

This particular translation is readable and well-annotated.
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LibraryThing member drbrand
Anyone can get angry—that is easy—or give or spend money; but to do this to the right person,
to the right extent, at the right time, with the right motive, and in the right way,
that is not for everyone, nor is it easy; wherefore goodness is both rare and laudable and noble.

The Oxford edition
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of The Nicomachean Ethics uses a revised version David Ross's truly readable translation. The notes are extremely helpful in elucidating Aristotle's sometimes tedious arguments around virtue, happiness, pleasure, and friendship. His conception of phronesis ("practical wisdom") is key in knowing the right thing to do and what leads happiness, which for Aristotle consists in excellence in activity directed by reason. In order to the right thing, we must know what the right thing is, choose it because it because it's the right thing, and act from a firm and unchanging good character. Easier said than done.

Aristotle thinks it's difficult to find “what is intermediate in passions and in actions." He argues that grasping the mean course of action is not for everyone, making virtue "rare and laudable and noble." One must always aim for what is intermediate and away from the extremes of the passions if one hopes to be virtuous, but this intermediate is often hard to identify or attain precisely in all situations, so we have to “incline sometimes towards the excess, sometimes towards the deficiency; for so shall we most easily hit the intermediate and what is right" – no easy task, indeed. Additionally, because childhood is where much of virtuous behavior is formed, if one is raised poorly or wickedly, one is put at an even larger disadvantage. Aristotle argues that it makes all the difference whether a person is raised properly to form virtuous habits in their youth, thus increasing the difficulty for many to become good people.

Anyone who's interested in ethical theory and how to live would do well to read Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, especially this helpful and easy to read edition.
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LibraryThing member Adrianmb
On a first read, while I was able to appreciate the harmony of Aristotle's writing, it made me feel that his Ethics were not well described "in practice". How can I achieve that mean?, how do I know I am doing well?, etc.
LibraryThing member Jeanne.Laure
I know I'm supposed to like this "foundational document of Western culture." I understand its importance, but I would feel perfectly fine if I never had to think about this book again. Give me poet-hating Plato over Aristotle; at least he is lively.


Original language

Greek (Ancient)

Original publication date

350 BCE (ca.)
c. 340 B.C.

Physical description

15 cm


3150085861 / 9783150085868
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