Aristotle Nicomedean Ethics

One of the venerable forms for relating and testing ideas is the dialogue, from Plato’s renditions of the teachings of Socrates to Shakespeare’s plays, from St. Augustine’s Confessions to modern film. In fact, this was how Aristotle was taught. Aristotle is also famous as a “peripatetic” philosopher, which means he liked to walk and talk with his students when he was teaching them. The Nichomachaen Ethics is a record of those wandering lectures, that were probably originally more of a discussion or a dialogue than a lecture.


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For this first paper, I want you to resurrect Aristotle from the dead, and go on a fictional, socially-distanced walk with him in 21st Century Chicago, and talk about our current “uncertain” times. Instead of making an argument about an aspect of the Ethics, I want you to have a dialogue with Aristotle about the ethics of our difficult present. What does it mean to live a good life during Covid? During an economic downturn? During a chaotic political season? During a time of racial reckoning?


What you talk about is up to you—and you won’t be able to talk about them all. But talk about some part of our difficult world that you care about. The challenge will be to convince your reader that you have faithfully represented your author—in idea and voice.


Write the text like a dialogue, with your name preceding your comments, and the name of your author preceding theirs: “Chris: I really want to leave my house! Aristotle: You should use this as an opportunity to accept your fortune” (67). Be sure to cite the text where the idea they are expressing is found. You may also quote your author from their text, or paraphrase the idea, but always be sure to cite the text.” If you need to include action, put it in brackets: [Aristotle trips on the curb].




3-5pp, 12pt font, double spaced, one-inch margins, no spaces between paragraphs. Use in text page citations: “Bad people have many ways, good people but one” (34). Number your pages in the header of the page with your name preceding it (i.e. Allison 1).


The grading rubric is as follows:


A Detailed understanding of the text; sound organization; few or no mechanical mistakes; clear, unambiguous sentences, perhaps with a touch of elegance—in the best A papers, a lively and intelligent voice seems to speak; it has something interesting to say, says it clearly and gracefully to an appropriate audience, and supports it fully.

B Clear thesis, organization, and continuity; probably some minor mechanical errors but no major ones; slightly awkward style at times; ideas that are reasonable and are anchored in the text—thought has obviously gone into the paper; it is solid but not striking; the writer has a definite point to make and makes it in an organized and competent way, and to a definite audience…it’s “good but not great.”

C A weak, fuzzy thesis and perhaps illogical arguments to support it; a certain amount of confusion about what the text at hand actually says; many mechanical errors and perhaps some major ones (such as incomplete sentences); examples given for their own sake or to demonstrate that the writer has read the text, not to prove a point; organization rambles or disappears; words are misused; diction is inconsistent; proofreading is weak; the intended audience is unclear—there are some ideas here, but the writer needs help and work to make them clear to another reader.

D Thesis missing; major mechanical problems; poor organization; serious misreadings of the text; stretches in which the writer simply gives a narrative account of the text for no apparent purpose; the paper is much shorter than the assigned length—the writer doesn’t really have a point to make and has serious problems in writing and reading at an appropriate level.

F The paper is plagiarized in part or as a whole, or it shows general weaknesses even graver than those of a D paper.

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