Friday, November 19, 2010

Questions For Book X--- Aristotle... Nichomachean Ethics

Warning to Regular Readers-- the following blog entry will be used for a discussion of Book X in Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics. Students have been invited to discuss these questions. You may join the discussion if you wish!




1. What does Aristotle mean by contemplation?
2. According to Aristotle, what  is the relationship between contemplation and happiness?
3. What does he mean by leisure?
4. In his view, what is the connection between leisure and contemplation?... and so leisure and happiness?
5. Reflect on your answer to question 4... If Aristotle is correct, is contemplation open to everyone? What type of life must you possess in order to contemplate?

Bonus question based on the discussion in last class:

The Shared Inquiry approach used in the Lasallian Honors Program is based on 3 levels of questions: (1) factual, (2) interpretative, and (3) evaluative. (Read the handout I gave out earlier in the semester for more details) Before you deal with higher level questions, you must understand a problem at the lower levels. So, for example, you cannot criticize an idea in a "knee-jerk" fashion"  until you understand the idea factually, and interpretively. 

One way to understand an idea or theory is to intellectually "play" with it  before moving toward critique. Personally, I do thought-experiments. I "pretend" I'm the theorist who created the idea (whether I like his/her ideas or not) and  ask myself how might s/he answer possible criticisms  before I ever dismiss them. (As a wise professor once said to me, "If you can easily dismiss a theory held by reasonably intelligent, honest, and careful thinkers then you either (1) don't understand the theory or (2) have an axe to grind.)

With this in mind, I want you to go back to the hypothesis that  pheromones  are the basis of friendship and social bonds in human communities. First, consider what happens in a beehive when  the queen's pheromones disappear with her death. The bees in the hive grow lethargic, and become louder. Normal work does not always get done, and the hive might might eventually die. As a response, the bees try to raise a new queen in order to replace the old dead queen and her pheromones, unless the beekeeper successfully introduces a new queen first. (A modern beekeeper may buy a queen from a breeder online!)

Now I want you to "pretend" you believe that pheromones play a large part in human interaction as well .

6. How might  online dating be totally compatible with a pheromonal theory of friendship bonds?

Happy Thanksgiving all!

28 comments:

Elizabeth Scott said...

1.) What does Aristotle mean by contemplation?
• He states that highest form of happiness is contemplation.
• He states that only a God could spend an entire lifetime occupied with nothing but contemplation, but we should try to approximate this godlike activity as best as we can.
• “Therefore, the activity of the divinity which surpasses all others in bliss must be a contemplative activity, and the human activity which is most closely akin to it is, therefore, most conductive in happiness.” (pg 293 line 20).
• The idea of contemplation according to Aristotle seems to mean having a complete life, which by book evidence seems to suggest a morally good life.
2.) According to Aristotle, what is the relationship between contemplation and happiness?
• According to Aristotle, the relationship between contemplation and happiness is that contemplation is the highest form of happiness. He provides multiple many compelling reasons to think this way but never gives a watertight argument for thinking his way.
• Genuine happiness lies in action that leads to virtue, since this alone provides true value and not just amusement. Thus, Aristotle held that contemplation is the highest form of moral activity because it is continuous, pleasant, self-sufficient, and complete
• “So happiness is coextensive with study, and the greater the opportunity for studying, the greater the happiness, not as an incidental effect but as inherent in study; for study is in itself worthy of honor. Consequently, happiness is some kind of study or contemplation” (pg 293, line 30).
3.) What does he mean by leisure?
• “Accordingly, such amusements are regarded as being conductive to happiness, because men who are in positions of power devote their leisure to them” (pg 287.
• Leisure and pleasure seem to mean the same thing, as Aristotle describes the varying degrees of pleasure and how it can bring out varying degrees of happiness in one.
4.) In his view, what is the connection between leisure and contemplation? And so leisure and happiness?
• “ Also, we regard happiness as depending on leisure; for our purpose in being busy is to have leisure, and we wage war in order to have peace. Now, the practical virtues are activated in political and military pursuits, but the action involved in these pursuits seem to be unleisurely” (pg 289-290).
• Happiness depends on leisure, thus helping us decided how spend our lives
• Highest form of happiness is contemplation, and happiness seems to be obtained when one is at leisure thus one must be at leisure in order to obtain the idea of contemplation
• “We must not follow those who advise us to have human thoughts, since we are men, and mortal thoughts, as mortals should; on the contrary, we should try to become immortal as far as possible and do our utmost to live in accordance with what highest in us” (291).
• Try to obtain the notion of contemplation as that is how the Gods live their lives
5.) Reflect on your answer to question 4…. If Aristotle is correct, is contemplation open to everyone? What type of life must you possess in order to contemplate?
• Contemplation seems to be open to everyone as long as they are willing to change to obtain contemplation. As Aristotle states, political and military activities are unleisurely and are not chosen for their own sake. He also states that the activity of our intelligence is thought to be of greater value and has a pleasure proper to itself and pleasure increases activity. “….the qualities of this activity evidently are self-sufficiency, leisure, as much freedom from fatigue as a human being can have, and whatever else falls to the lot of a supremely happy man” (pg 290). In order for one to contemplate, they must be willing to find happiness in the activities that they pursue.

Elizabeth Scott said...

1.) What does Aristotle mean by contemplation?
• He states that highest form of happiness is contemplation.
• He states that only a God could spend an entire lifetime occupied with nothing but contemplation, but we should try to approximate this godlike activity as best as we can.
• “Therefore, the activity of the divinity which surpasses all others in bliss must be a contemplative activity, and the human activity which is most closely akin to it is, therefore, most conductive in happiness.” (pg 293 line 20).
• The idea of contemplation according to Aristotle seems to mean having a complete life, which by book evidence seems to suggest a morally good life.

Elizabeth Scott said...

2.) According to Aristotle, what is the relationship between contemplation and happiness?
• According to Aristotle, the relationship between contemplation and happiness is that contemplation is the highest form of happiness. He provides multiple many compelling reasons to think this way but never gives a watertight argument for thinking his way.
• Genuine happiness lies in action that leads to virtue, since this alone provides true value and not just amusement. Thus, Aristotle held that contemplation is the highest form of moral activity because it is continuous, pleasant, self-sufficient, and complete
• “So happiness is coextensive with study, and the greater the opportunity for studying, the greater the happiness, not as an incidental effect but as inherent in study; for study is in itself worthy of honor. Consequently, happiness is some kind of study or contemplation” (pg 293, line 30).

Elizabeth Scott said...

3.) What does he mean by leisure?
• “Accordingly, such amusements are regarded as being conductive to happiness, because men who are in positions of power devote their leisure to them” (pg 287.
• Leisure and pleasure seem to mean the same thing, as Aristotle describes the varying degrees of pleasure and how it can bring out varying degrees of happiness in one.

Elizabeth Scott said...

4.) In his view, what is the connection between leisure and contemplation? And so leisure and happiness?
• “ Also, we regard happiness as depending on leisure; for our purpose in being busy is to have leisure, and we wage war in order to have peace. Now, the practical virtues are activated in political and military pursuits, but the action involved in these pursuits seem to be unleisurely” (pg 289-290).
• Happiness depends on leisure, thus helping us decided how spend our lives
• Highest form of happiness is contemplation, and happiness seems to be obtained when one is at leisure thus one must be at leisure in order to obtain the idea of contemplation
• “We must not follow those who advise us to have human thoughts, since we are men, and mortal thoughts, as mortals should; on the contrary, we should try to become immortal as far as possible and do our utmost to live in accordance with what highest in us” (291).
• Try to obtain the notion of contemplation as that is how the Gods live their lives

Elizabeth Scott said...

5.) Reflect on your answer to question 4…. If Aristotle is correct, is contemplation open to everyone? What type of life must you possess in order to contemplate?
• Contemplation seems to be open to everyone as long as they are willing to change to obtain contemplation. As Aristotle states, political and military activities are unleisurely and are not chosen for their own sake. He also states that the activity of our intelligence is thought to be of greater value and has a pleasure proper to itself and pleasure increases activity. “….the qualities of this activity evidently are self-sufficiency, leisure, as much freedom from fatigue as a human being can have, and whatever else falls to the lot of a supremely happy man” (pg 290). In order for one to contemplate, they must be willing to find happiness in the activities that they pursue.

Elizabeth Scott said...

1.) What does Aristotle mean by contemplation?
• He states that highest form of happiness is contemplation.
• He states that only a God could spend an entire lifetime occupied with nothing but contemplation, but we should try to approximate this godlike activity as best as we can.
• “Therefore, the activity of the divinity which surpasses all others in bliss must be a contemplative activity, and the human activity which is most closely akin to it is, therefore, most conductive in happiness.” (pg 293 line 20).
• The idea of contemplation according to Aristotle seems to mean having a complete life, which by book evidence seems to suggest a morally good life.

Kathryn Metz said...

1) It seems that aristotle holds theoretical knoweledge/wisdom or intelligence to be synonymous with contemplation. Evidence of this is found first on pg. 288 when he states, "That [happiness] is an activity concerned with theoretical knowledge or contemplation has already been established" He then continues to use the term theoretical knowledge/wisdom throughout the next page and then states "A further indication that complete happiness consists in some kind of contemplative activity is this" (pg. 292).

Kathryn Metz said...

2.) In response to Beth's comment I am going to say that I'm not quite sure that Aristotle means contemplation to be the highest form of happiness. Moreso, it seems that happiness, in his opinion, does not have different forms, but rather different levels, "A life guided by the other kind of virtue, is happy in a secondary sense" (pg. 291). I do agree however that Aristotle believes contemplation necessary in order to have supreme happiness. This evidence provided in the quote Beth stated above from page 293 and also from the quote "happiness is some kind of study or contemplation" (pg. 293).

Kathryn Metz said...

3) I believe that when Aristotle refers to leisure, he means it to be pretty much the same thing we know it today as: free time to do as we please, in the case of a moral man, this would most likely involve studying. I believe this because in addition to the quote BEth left about amusements, Aristotle also says at a different point, "our purpose in being busy is to have leisure" (pg.289). By this I assume he means that we spend good portion of our lives busy so that we can get everything done as soon as possible with time left still to do as we please. This could be applied to an everyday basis or a lifetime basis (i.e. we spend the first good portion of our lives working and then retire to enjoy leisure time).

Discovering Me said...

Alycia Wojahn
1. Contemplation
(This is a combination of Question 1 and 2)
-"Therefore, the activity of the divinity which surpasses all others in bliss must be a contemplative activity, and the human activity which is most closely akin to it is, therefore, most conductive to happiness." (Pg 293)
-Contemplation is the activity closest to happiness.
-"So happiness is coextensive with study, and the greater the opportunity for studying, the greater the happiness, not as an incidental effect but as inherent in study; for study is in itself worthy of honor. Consequently, happiness is some kind of study or contemplation." (Page293 about line 30)
-"Therefore, we have here a futher indication that a wise man attains a higher degree of happiness than anyone." (Pg295)
-Contemplation is the searching for higher things. Contemplation is closest to happiness.

Discovering Me said...

Alycia Wojahn
3 and 4. Leisure
-"Also, we regard happiness as depending on leisure' for our purpose in being busy is to have leisure, and we wage war in order to have peace." (pg289)
-Aristotle seems to think that leisure is a man-made idea. And that leisure is not needed to achieve happiness, but is thought by MAN that it is necessary in achieving happiness. So in a sense, we put leisure as a false need.
-I think that perhaps leisure is needed for happiness, because in order to contemplate (as Aristotle says is closest to happiness) we need the security to be able to do so. We cannot contemplate if our basic needs have been met. We need leisure, which to me seems like the end result of having our basic needs met.
-"It follows that the activity of our intelligence consistutes the complete happiness of man, provided that it encompasses a complete pan of life' for nothing connected with happiness must be incomplete." (pg 290)
-I think Aristotle might be saying that leisure is necessary to reach contemplation. But, the leisure must be complete in order for it to reach happiness through contemplation.

Discovering Me said...

5. Reflect
-If Aristotle is correct, I think he may be saying that not everyone can reach happiness, at least not here on this earth. In order to have happiness, we must first have contemplation, and before that leisure. To have leisure, one must be fully cared for and have almost no worry as to whether s/he will live or die from starvation, lack of friendship, war, or other various issues.
-To reiterate: In order to achieve happiness (contemplation) one must first have the ability to be leisurely. In order to be leisurely, we must have a certain knowing that we will be safe and cared for. How often does one hear of a serf acting in leisure? Rarely. How often does one hear of a lord in a castle acting in leisure? Often.
-The life one must have in order to contemplate must be relaxed, filled with virtue, and cared for.

Cathy Rennie said...

As for the meaning of contemplation I think Kathryn makes a good point with the quote from page 288 and when she says that it has to do with having knowlege and wisdom. I believe contemplation is all about thinking and trying to understand things. I also agree that contemplation has alot to do with happiness like Beth and Alycia said. The quote that Alycia mentions from pg. 295 that talks about how wise men are happy really gets at the connection between happiness and contemplation.

As for the meaning of leisure, it makes me think of free time to do what we want. The quote from pg. 289 that talks about how we have to be busy to have leisure means alot. If someone was never busy they would have free time all the time and they would never appreciate the leisure time they get. I think the relationship between leisure and contemplation comes from that fact that a person must contemplate all situations and have knowledge of those situations before they can have leisure form that situation.

I believe that everyone is open to contemplation; but, the person has to be willing to learn and gain knowledge which is a key to contemplation.

Cathy Rennie said...

Online dating and Pheromones

Since pheromones are kind of like smells, it is hard to see how they could relate to online dating. But, maybe the pheromones dont neccesarily have to be smells, but more like vibes. Like a first impression you get from someone; you decide if they are nice, mean, talkative, shy, outgoing or anything else. This impression is made before you really get to know someone. Similarily to online dating, you may see pictures of someone and read things about them and get an impression of them before you even start talking to them. If someone gives you a good vibe then it would encourage you to start talking to them. So, I think a pheromonal theory may be compatible with online dating because even if a person doesnt give off a scent they give off their own vibe and that can be picked up by others similarily to pheromones.

Ryan said...

I find it rather interesting that hardly anyone has posted yet. Not surprising, though. I've been meaning to, but it's thanksgiving and i can't go back in time in order to post yesterday. I couldn't resist posting something, though.

lolly_smu2013 said...

Lorelle Brune
1. What does Aristotle mean by contemplation?
It seems perfectly logical that, as a philosopher, Aristotle is referring to the philosophical practice of contemplation, or discerning truth through thought. I agree with Kathryn that it seems like intelligence is closely related to contemplation. I also agree with Alycia in that he proposes it closest to happiness, for it is the only thing in which happiness is not the end result of the activity but the process
2. According to Aristotle, what is the relationship between contemplation and happiness?
I believe Beth’s quote sums this up well. I also agree with Alycia in that Aristotle proposes it closest to happiness, for it is the only thing in which happiness is not the end result of the activity but that contemplation itself is pleasurable. “Again, study seems to be the only activity which is loved for its own sake” (X.1177b; p 289). (a good number of college students may disagree with that statement.)

lolly_smu2013 said...

3. What does he mean by leisure?
Kathryn said: “Aristotle also says at a different point, ‘our purpose in being busy is to have leisure’ (pg.289).” I think this quote is the idea of leisure, or the opposite of busy-ness (business sounded wrong). The idea is that leisure is the freedom to do what we want, not what we have to.

4. In his view, what is the connection between leisure and contemplation?... and so leisure and happiness?
To Aristotle, since contemplation is pleasurable for its own sake, it is leisurely, as opposed to other activities such as military and political pursuits. Therefore, since contemplation is the highest happiness, leisure is necessary for happiness. (Sort of in the way if a=b and b=c, then a=c.)

lolly_smu2013 said...

Lorelle Brune
5. Reflect on your answer to question 4... If Aristotle is correct, is contemplation open to everyone? What type of life must you possess in order to contemplate?
On page 290 about line 25, he says, “however, such a life would be more than human” (referring to a contemplative life). The contemplative life is a more “divine” life, according to what he says on page 290 and 291. It seems that living most virtuously is also important to living this divine life. Therefore, I think contemplation is not open to everyone; he has already indicated that some people are depraved and do not live virtuous lives because they derive pleasure from wicked things, so those people are incapable of true happiness.


Other comments:
I know I have expressed frustration with our discussions getting too off topic, but it seems that we often move very quickly past the factual and interpretive and try to jump into evaluative too quickly. We cannot apply the evaluative level without having a firm grounding in the factual and interpretive first. (Nice reference to Bloom’s Taxonomy, by the way.) For example, we cannot just start talking about pheromones if we haven’t discussed what Aristotle says first, and that may be why people are frustrated in class when they come prepared for all three levels.
So. With that said. What do we have to have read in the Inferno for next class?

Jeunesse said...

On Online Dating and Pheromones

Although I do not know if there is a legitimate way to compare bee pheromones to humans, I can believe that there is a fundemental human need for human contact. Maybe human pheromones are not smells exactly, but a need to be wanted and accepted by another person. This theory would explain the reason for online dating. People would not have to smell the other person in order to feel pulled to them, but instead would have that desire to be near another human and online dating allows the person to find a person they would be compatible with. So I agree with Cathy in that human pheromones may not be a smell, but instead of a vibe, I would say it would be a need for affection.

Ryan said...

When it comes to online dating i don't think that it really can be compatible with the pheromonal theory. Unless we have little tubes that can transfer air from one computer to another.
But, with the pheromonal theory, that would be there very point. Remote interaction alone cannot truly form bonds like person to person contact can.
In this way online dating would still be useful. You could objectively decide on who you would want to meet and then it would be in the actual meeting you would see whether or not the two of you would click.

Abelisto said...

Ryan,

I think you miss the "negative" side to the pheromonal theory, that is, what happens when a creature lacks a partner with compatible pheromones... When bees lack the pheromones of a queen, they raise another queen. When a drone leaves a hive to mate they go to a certain geographic area unaided by pheromones (drone congregation area), equivalent to a local pickup bar. :-) When an unmated queen enters the area, it is at that point, he "smells" her pheromones and seeks to mate with her.

If the pheromonal theory applies to humans to some degree as well, going on an online dating site does not constitute a contradiction.

Ryan said...

The actual act of going on the online dating site would not be a contradiction, if we are comparing it analogously to the drone congregation area, but at the online site there is no way to detect pheromones, so there is no ultimate fulfillment.

Kathryn Metz said...

4)In Aristotle's view, leisure is a quality of contemplation, "the qualities of [contemplation] evidently are self-sufficiency, leisure [...]" (p. 290). This is the link between them, one is a part of the other. Therefore, if it is true that one must live a contemplative life in order to live a happy one, that means one must live a life with at least some leisure in order to live a happy one as well.

Kathryn Metz said...

5) It seems that Aristotle does not believe that such a life is open to everyone because in order to contemplate, people must have some sort of external goods to study and not everyone has these. Also, in order to live a contemplative life, people need to have leisure and some people can simply not afford that. However, if they work there way up and are able to get ahold of some external goods and time for leisure, then there does seem to be a possibility that they could live such a life, so, perhaps it is a life open to everyone...

clarissa said...

Contemplation
1.-2. I have to concur that contemplation is knowledge as stated before. I originally agreed with Beth and Alycia but Kathryn has a good argument that I previously had not thought of so it should be a combination

Leisure
3.-4.I agree that leisure is free time from how I interpreted the reading. As for leisure and contemplation, I have to agree with Cathy that leisure is accomplished through contemplation

5. I think happiness is achievable through contemplation but again as stated before not to all

Pheromones
I know that humans are attracted due to the pheromones released without our knowledge and these are why we find certain scents attractive and others repugnant. Especially in the attraction to the opposite sex. In relation to online sites I'm not sure how exactly those pheromones could be smelled but due to visual attraction one might create an ideal scent due to what they perceive in the mate from previous experienced scents or what scents they associate to the mate.

Anna Sonday said...

Beth makes a key point in saying that contemplation is open to everyone as long as they are willing to change. Contemplation could not possible lead to happiness unless it led to virtue (that tricky definition of happiness). So if contemplation is only for the sake of contemplation, I do not understand how it would lead to happiness. Katherine perfectly conquered the leisure question.

All right I think I got an answer to this whole pheromone business. Maybe our desire to online date is a result of pheromones. Sort of like when you are at the McDonald's in Grafton, Wisconsin and you smell a delicious Southern Style Chicken Sandwich, but you don't have the necessary $3.89 to get the sandwich so you rush home and make the pizza rolls you have in the freezer. We online date in an attempt to recreate pheromones we have already felt, but for some reason couldn't obtain- so we go for the second best thing and try to recreate from someone we eventually meet online. Maybe it's a quest to replace pheromones.

Ashley said...

1&2. Contemplation is key to human happiness.
"...no other living being has a share in happiness, since they all are completely denied this kind of activity [contemplation]" p. 293
In response to Kathryn's comment "Moreso, it seems that happiness, in his opinion, does not have different forms, but rather different levels" I'd have to say I disagree a bit, as he does reference different kinds of happiness on page 292, when he says "The happiness of the intelligence, however, is quite separate (from that kind of happiness)" referring to the happiness that stems from leading a virtuous life.
3. I agree with what has previously been stated about leisure. It seems that in Aristotle's view, one cannot understand leisure without having things that keep them busy. Leisure and busyness seem to be opposite ends of a spectrum, with a balance of the two as the median.
4."the qualities of [theoretical knowledge] evidently are self-sufficiency, leisure, as much freedom from fatigue as a human can have, and whatever falls to the lot of a supremely happy man..." p. 290
Both leisure and supreme happiness are resultant from contemplation (theoretical knowledge).
5. I agree with Lorelle that contemplation is not open to everyone, based on the idea that some people do not live a complete life, "for nothing connected with happiness must be incomplete." p. 290