Aristotelian Essay

(However, since practical perceptions are not themselves motivational states [41-43], Reeve could have been clearer about whether and in what sense this induction results in genuinely practical -- i.e., motivating -- understanding.) The next three chapters argue for the importance of theoretical thought in the practical sphere.

Chapter 3, "Theoretical Wisdom," argues that when we understand what scientific knowledge amounts to for Aristotle, we can see that his epistemology includes as well as natural, cosmological, and theological ones.

This corresponds to the minor premise of a syllogism, and we grasp it through a different exercise of understanding which is a species of practical perception that Reeve calls "deliberative perception." (181-186) Together, these two premises generate an action, which corresponds to a description that is validly entailed by the two premises.

From this analysis of the practical syllogism, we can see that practical wisdom directly involves various forms of theoretical knowledge, including knowledge of ethical science.

He then devotes most of the chapter to defending and explaining Aristotle's claim that virtue of character is a mean in relation to us.

Compared to most scholarly discussions of these topics, Reeve focuses comparatively heavily on the idea that virtues of character are relative to one's political constitution and to one's status as a human being (man, woman, child, slave), and comparatively little on Aristotle's own explanation of the mean as relative to a particular time, place, agent, object, quantity, and so on.[1] Chapter 5, "Practical Wisdom," explains practical wisdom in terms of the so-called "practical syllogism." On Reeve's view, practical reasons have two aspects or parts, which correspond to the two premises in a syllogism.Finally, Reeve supplements his discussions with original translations of Aristotle, many of which are extensive excerpts set apart from the main text.These translations are comfortably clear and readable, which makes them accessible to readers of all levels.To do this, he covers a truly extraordinary range of topics from the corpus, and his highly integrative, multidisciplinary approach is to be applauded.Second, he plans to "think everything out afresh for myself, as if I were the first one to attempt the task." (ix) Because of this, he only rarely engages in detail with scholarly debates on major topics.Third, Reeve describes the structure of his text as a "map of the Aristotelian world," which proceeds through a "holism" of discussions that evolve as the book progresses.(ix-x) As such, readers should not expect a point-by-point argument about specific aspects of Aristotle's views about action, contemplation, and happiness that arise from his physical, metaphysical, and theological views. One of the book's most novel features is its complex methodology. He aims to show that practical wisdom and theoretical wisdom are very similar virtues, and therefore, despite what scholars have often thought, there are few difficult questions about how virtuous action and theoretical contemplation are to be reconciled in a happy life.All practical reasons aim at a target, which corresponds to the major premise of a syllogism that states a universal, invariant, scientific law, grasped through understanding () -- in the most general case, a definition of human happiness.And our practical reasons also involve a definition or defining-mark telling us how to hit the target in a particular situation.

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