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Aristotle: On the Parts of Animals I-IV (Clarendon Aristotle by James G. Lennox

By James G. Lennox

In at the elements of Animals, Aristotle develops his systematic rules for organic research and rationalization, and applies these ideas to provide an explanation for why the several animals have different elements that they do. This new translation and remark displays the subtlety and element of Aristotle's reasoning.

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And that would imply that he gave up his pretensions to superior wisdom. He cannot, then, say that such questions as the nature of each virtue and the way they form a unity are irrelevant for his teaching. It seems to be to Protagoras’ advantage that the ambiguity concerning the relation between good men and good citizens is not cleared up. At this point in the conversation, it is also advantageous to Socrates. He can now situate the discussion Socrates’ Sophisticated Attack on Protagoras 27 on the abstract level of moral philosophy, and pretend that he thinks Protagoras is comfortable with that.

Conclusion Virtues in Plato’s dialogues are always discussed with reference to the good soul. Aims and values must in the end also be approached from this angle. They may not be morally problematic; they may be neutral. If they are not there will always be moral questions to consider. A chosen aim or value should not be allowed to diminish your capability to develop one or more virtues. Some values and aims are, moreover, intrinsically morally suspect. Power, for instance, should be treated carefully, not only for the hazard it represents for the good of one’s own soul, but also because the dangers it entails for the virtuous life of others.

It seems superfluous, since everyone knows that they must exist in some form or other. Socrates here, in a seemingly innocuous way deftly raises the question of the nature of the existence of the virtues, their ontology, at the same time that he points to the common notion that virtues are powers that function as motives and can be part of a man’s character. Why does Protagoras accept this? Socrates knew, of course, that some sophists and other intellectuals were inclined to think that virtues were nomos, rather than fusis, conventional rather than “by nature”.

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