Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Aristotle on the Limitations of Rationality in Ethics
"Our discussion will be adequate if its clarity matches the subject matter. For we should not seek exactness in all accounts alike...And fine and just actions, which political theory investigates, exhibit difference and fluctuation, so that it seems they exist only by convention, and not by nature. And goods also exhibit a similar sort of fluctuation because they cause harm to many people. For it has happened that some have been destroyed because of their wealth, and others because of their bravery. Thus we must be content, in speaking about and from such things, to indicate the truth roughly and in outline, and we must be content in speaking about things that hold for the most part and in drawing conclusions of the same sort from such things."
---Aristotle, circa 325 BC, Nicomachean Ethics. Translated by N. Sherman in N. Sherman "Making a Necessity of Virtue: Aristotle and Kant on Virtue", p.268.