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HU 201, Team U, Week 5, Class Notes

by: Vaishnavi Kothapalli

HU 201, Team U, Week 5, Class Notes HU 201

Marketplace > Boston University > Humanities > HU 201 > HU 201 Team U Week 5 Class Notes
Vaishnavi Kothapalli
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About this Document

- lecture and discussion notes - Oct. 3rd to Oct. 6th
History of Western Ethics I
Class Notes
Humanities, epictetus, Plato, Socrates, Aristotle




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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Vaishnavi Kothapalli on Monday October 10, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to HU 201 at Boston University taught by Stoehr in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 9 views. For similar materials see History of Western Ethics I in Humanities at Boston University.


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Date Created: 10/10/16
October 3, 2016 – Lecture (absent) I. Aristotle a. Established the natural sciences i. Classification – genus/species ii. Teleology (telos + logos) iii. Emphasized empirical knowledge b. Founded the study of logic c. Nichomachean Ethics d. Metaphysics i. Above the physical reality e. Poetics f. Politics II. Types of Virtue a. Intellectual Virtue i. Theoretical Wisdom 1. Understanding unchanging things 2. Ex. Law of Nature ii. Practical Wisdom 1. “Street smarts” – things that change depending on the situation 2. How to get to your goal b. Ethical Virtue i. Choices  habits  character  virtue III. Aristotle’s “Golden Mean” a. Aims at the relative midpoint between extremes (vices) b. Hit the “bull’s eye” c. Extremes = deficiency and excess d. “relative” = proportional (“geometric”) e. “Arithmetic” mean i. have to fit everyone’s situation 1. geometry: sizes and radii are different 2. midpoint is dependent on the individual and their situation ii. Not completely arithmetic  arithmetic never changes iii. Contextual/situational ethics f. Plato’s absolutist ethics i. Depends on the person and their context/situation ii. Ex. Might take courage to face great danger in war or to just talk in front of a big word if you are shy  different for everyone iii. Plato’s absolutist ethics  Aristotle thinks it is too rigid; life changes, people change iv. Plato’s highest idea = Idea of the Good IV. Examples of the Golden Mean a. Cowardice vs. courage vs. recklessness b. Stingy vs. generosity vs. wastefulness i. Knowing how to spend your money c. Insensitivity vs. moderation (temperance) vs. self-indulgence d. Apathy vs. mildness vs. short temper e. Obsequiousness vs. friendliness vs. grouchiness i. Obsequiousness = someone who is always fawning for attention or following others ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------- October 4, 2016 – Discussion - Epictetus’ Handbook I. Death of the Ancient Greek Empire a. Never unified till Alexander came in i. Brought all polis’ into one large empire b. Did not survive after Alexander’s death; crumbled II. Death of Alexander the Great (356-323 CE) a. Died mysteriously III. Roman Republic  Roman Empire a. Rome used to be a representative democracy b. Julius Caesar appointed as perpetual emperor (44 BCE) c. 500-year rule until the rise of the Byzantine Empire i. Byzantium  Constantinople (first emperor) 1. Western half of Roman Empire ii. Start of “the Middle Ages” IV. Height of Roman Empire’s power a. Material and military success b. Importance of Roman Law i. Like a religion ii. Only way to keep everyone unified and united iii. Became central principle to Roman empire c. But, also height of moral crisis in Rome i. No great moral leaders (role models) ii. Corrupt/decadent or weak emperors 1. Ex. Caligula, Claudius, Nero V. Stoicism (Greek and Roman) a. Founder: Zeno of Citium (Greek) i. You can always be a virtuous person even in midst of pain b. School: “the Stoa” (Stoa Poikile) i. = the painted porch c. Philosophy as a kind of therapy i. To feel healed and as a whole person d. Stoic model: Socrates i. Refers to the Crito ii. Socrates is passionate about wisdom and virtue iii. Be passionate about the right things VI. Epictetus (c. 50-130 CE) a. Greek-Roman i. Born in Greek colony, which eventually became a Roman colony b. Sold into slavery as a child c. Bodyguard under Emperor Nero d. Studied under Greek Stoicism e. Like a reverse of Romanticism VII. Selective apathy or detachment (apatheia) a. Learn to tune out what disturbs you b. Reason vs. desire VIII. Highest good = serenity a. Aristotle thinks you should always be struggling for happiness i. No pain, no game b. Epictetus says to avoid struggle as much as possible and be serene and calm i. Goal is to maintain serenity c. “Some things are in our control, and some of them are not” – Handbook d. What is up to us? e. What is not up to us?  External i. Body (diseases/illnesses, height, gender, aging & death) ii. Material possessions (money and wealth) iii. Reputations (others’ opinion and judgements) iv. Weather and natural disasters ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------- October 6, 2016 - Discussion I. Highest good = Serenity a. What is up to us? (pg. 11 in Handbook)  Internal i. Opinions, Beliefs, Judgements ii. Impulses/desires 1. You can even overcome addiction if you use your reason iii. Aversions (opposite of desires) iv. Attitude II. How to achieve serenity? a. Detach yourself emotionally from certain things b. “Let it be” c. be apathetic towards external things d. Your life will be a lot more serene if you have some sense of religion i. Wants you to have a general conception of what a higher power would look like 1. Atheist = doesn’t believe in a god/gods 2. Agnostic = skeptic of gods ii. Can you live an ethical and virtuous life without believing in religion? 1. Empathy can lead to same conclusions as religion can get you to III. Religion a. He believes the gods are higher powers who arranged everything perfectly b. Religious faith helps us to cope with suffering c. Belief in Divine Providence i. Idea that everything happens for a reason ii. The gods have a plan d. Pg. 21 – about piety – believe in gods who arrange the world justly i. Things you can’t control – leave it to the gods ii. Things you can control – concentrate on it to make it better e. Death is inevitable – try to detach yourself emotionally from the sphere i. Fragment #3 on pg. 12 – like tough love; if you can’t change the past, then don’t worry about it ii. Fragment #11 on pg. 14 – don’t mourn over things given to you from the gods; not your personal property iii. Fragment # 5


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