Study Guide

The Nicomachean Ethics Tough-o-Meter

By Aristotle

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(10) Mount Everest

We're not gonna lie: this is some serious literature. You should not be surprised, of course, since this is a work of head-scratching, mind-melting, tear-your-hair-out philosophy. Let's talk about some of the challenges you're likely to meet. (And by "likely to meet" we mean will meet.)

First, the concepts are just hard, hard, hard. Aristotle is creating a system of thought about human life in community, so this is to be expected.

He also employs some interesting rhetorical strategies to convey his ideas. Be aware that Aristotle often "acknowledges the opposition" by defining "perplexities" at the beginning of each book. Note that these are not his arguments, but rather what people generally say on the subject. This explains why he totally reverses most of them in the course of the book.

Be prepared to define everything. Ten times. Just do your yoga breathing.

Understand that Aristotle has to pick every possible concept to death. In professional terms, this is called reducing your liabilities. He has haters out there who want him to forget to consider something. He has to be thorough.

So it's a tough go, but we promise that you will be more eudaimonic for the effort. After all, using the brain is the best activity for a human.

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