Study Guide

The Nicomachean Ethics Tone

By Aristotle

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Matter-of-fact, Dry Humor

Aristotle has some serious work to get done by the end of these lectures, so for the most part, he's all about laying it down and marching on.

But every once in a while, he drops a gem like this:

For it seems possible for someone to possess virtue even while asleep or while being inactive throughout life and, in addition to these, while suffering badly and undergoing the greatest misfortunes. But no one would deem happy somebody living in this way, unless he were defending a thesis. (1.5.1095b34-1096a2)

That, folks, is a 4th Century BCE zinger.

Aristotle has exactly zero tolerance for high-falutin' theorizing about things that aren't consistent with life experience.

It's in these moments of frustration with other philosophical groups (we're talking to you, Sophists!) that we get a glimpse into the personality of Professor Aristotle. He's a little dry, and a little fusty, but he's definitely not above cracking wise. After all, dude thinks being witty is generally an excellent thing.

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