Study Guide

The Nicomachean Ethics Book 1, Chapter 3 (1094b12-1095a14)

By Aristotle

Book 1, Chapter 3 (1094b12-1095a14)

  • Aristotle says that his inquiry will be a little bit general, since things that are noble and just (as the political art is) have aspects that are kind of up in the air.
  • This "variability" happens for a couple of reasons. First, they rely on things like custom—always something open for debate.
  • Also, good things sometimes go wrong and hurt people.
  • So Aristotle is aiming to prove his ideas as a rough outline, rather than prescribing strict ideas about what's good.
  • He warns us that we'll have to accept/understand the points he makes as he builds his argument—that's the job of a student who is listening to a learned teacher.
  • Aristotle reminds his audience that a person is only a good judge of things that they know well. It's especially good if a person has been well educated in all things.
  • Which is why, Aristotle says, that young whippersnappers are really awful students of the political art.
  • They haven't seen anything of life or how things work.
  • Also, a young person is after following his passions. He wants to take action, not acquire knowledge. This characterization also applies to the immature.
  • A reasonable person, however, would absolutely benefit from this inquiry.