The Eudemian Ethics of Aristotle
Among the works on ethics in the Aristotelian corpus, there is no serious dispute among scholars that the Eudemian Ethics is authentic. The Eudemian Ethics is increasingly read and used by scholars as a useful support and confirmation and sometimes contrast to the Nicomachean Ethics. Yet, it remains a largely neglected work in the study of Aristotle’s ethics, both among scholars and moral philosophers.
Peter L. P. Simpson provides an analytical outline of the entire work together with summaries of each individual section, making the overall structure and detailed argument clear. His translation and explanatory notes include the common books that the Eudemian Ethics shares with the Nicomachean. This translation contains renderings of words and phrases, and proposals for emending the text that differ from what other translators and scholars have adopted.
This translation is literal, without expansion or paraphrase, and yet also readable. A readable but literal translation is necessary because in the Eudemian Ethics, more than usual in Aristotle’s writings, the logic of the argumentation can turn on the peculiar wording or order. Simpson explains the argumentation where necessary in notes and separate explanatory comments. This book is a fresh, twenty-first-century rendition of the work of one of the most eminent philosophers of all time.
“Peter Simpson provides a remarkably erudite translation of one of Aristotle’s neglected works. The Eudemian Ethics is known for the problem it presents to the translator, given the grammar it employs and its often complex word structure. As a seasoned classicist and moral philosopher, Simpson’s translation deciphers what is often a concentrated and elliptical text, and in doing so, he at once provides the college student with a faithful and readable translation and in providing terminological clarity aids the scholar in the discussion of doctrine. Simpson’s painstaking discussion of the history of commentaries on the text through the centuries does much to clarify the meaning of the text. One must judge this translation and commentary as an indispensable tool for the serious student of the ethics of Aristotle.”
—Jude P. Dougherty, dean emeritus, School of Philosophy, The Catholic University of America
“Peter Simpson’s The Eudemian Ethics of Aristotle is a scholarly achievement in two senses. First, Simpson’s translations are elegant and yet faithful to the Greek. Second, Simpson’s commentaries on the texts are philosophically substantive and enlightening. Thanks to Simpson, we now see more clearly that no study of Aristotelian moral philosophy is complete without a sustained engagement with the Eudemian Ethics and On Virtues and Vices.”
—Robert B. Talisse, professor and chair, Department of Philosophy, Vanderbilt University
“Scholars have unfairly neglected Aristotle’s Eudemian Ethics for a generation while scholarship on the Nicomachean Ethics has become almost unmanageable. Until 2011, there existed no complete English translation of the Eudemian Ethics (namely, one which included a consistent translation of the books it shares with the Nicomachean version), and book-length commentary on only three of the five Eudemian books. Simpson’s The Eudemian Ethics of Aristotle masterfully remedies that deficiency and provides beginners and scholars alike with a complete and readable text augmented with ‘explanatory comments’ . . . The translation deals judiciously with a Greek text notorious for its problematic readings and the comments move carefully through the argumentative structure of the work (including the books which are shared by both the Eudemian and Nicomachean versions). Simpson has also usefully rescued the Aristotelian Virtues and Vices from the dustbins of scholarship and provided cogent thoughts and commentary about why it should be taken seriously by Aristotle scholars. One hopes that Simpson is on the cusp of a wave of Aristotle scholarship that enriches our understanding of his ethical theories with a full appreciation of his entire ethical corpus.”
—Thornton Lockwood, assistant professor, Department of Philosophy and Political Science, Quinnipiac University
“Simpson has done a great service both to scholars and to students. His translation differs in significant ways from previous translations such as Anthony Kenny’s that reflect the prevailing consensus about what the text means, and Simpson’s notes and commentary provide the details needed to decide whether his emendations are correct. The translation is literal enough to be helpful to students and lucid enough to make the Eudemian Ethics accessible and appealing. Simpson’s commentary—both on the common books and on the other books—is masterful and is the most useful commentary I have seen on Aristotle’s ethics. Written in an elegant and easy style, Simpson’s commentary will be an invaluable guide for introductory students while casting new light on passages that are already familiar to others. This volume goes far toward showing that the Eudemian Ethics deserves more attention than we usually give it. To date I have not included the Eudemian Ethics in courses I have taught, and I now am reconsidering.”
—Mason Marshall, assistant professor, Department of Philosophy, Pepperdine University
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Table of Contents
Translation of the Eudemian Ethics
Translation of On Virtues and Vices
Commentary on the Eudemian Ethics
The Common Books in General