Study Guide

The Nicomachean Ethics Book 4, Chapter 8 (1127b34-1128b9)

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Book 4, Chapter 8 (1127b34-1128b9)

  • Aristotle continues with the social graces. This installment: pleasant conversation, or how to spend leisure time with friends.
  • A person who will do anything for a laugh, according to Aristotle, is a "buffoon."
  • However, if we refuse to entertain anyone, we are "boorish" or "dour."
  • The perfect companion for leisure time? The witty person. He's a spontaneous, playful person who can see the humor appropriate for each situation.
  • If we want to walk the middle of the road here, we have to have tact—so that we know what's properly funny in every situation without being vulgar or cheap.
  • The art of joking well? Knowing how not to cause pain to our audience.
  • But it's often difficult to know how far is too far with any given group. It takes true social talent.
  • But at the very least, a truly witty, tactful person would never stoop to slander (that's illegal, anyway).
  • A buffoon, however, has no boundaries. He'll even sacrifice himself for a laugh.
  • The boor is like the Grumpy Cat of the social world: he doesn't care for your entertainment.

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