Nicomachean Ethics books II and III

Camryn Gamble
2 min readJan 24, 2021

Book II of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics is when he really starts to get into the importance of virtue and what significance moral virtues has in one’s life. Aristotle claims that virtues of character come from different experiences and are influenced by many things in life. I completely agree with him here because society and the people who influence others in said society can change someone’s values so fast. I feel like since these character virtues are so easily influenced, they are the least trustworthy when it comes to ethics. I am one to trust my intuition (mostly) instead of overthinking each outcome of a situation. I think these habitual virtues may hinder one’s actual thought process and lead them farther from their actual intuitive answers. Society influences us so much that we do not know how to use intuition and our own independent power to go through life. I’m not sure if Aristotle meant to convey this, but I kind of just wanted to do a short little rant to highlight the impact of things like social media and influencers that come from it who are essentially destroying our societal individuality.

Aristotle also discusses pleasure and pain in this book. We need to be cautious about whether pleasure and pain is acceptable in certain situations. When I think about philosophy, I think about the utilitarian principle of maximizing happiness. I think about how this principle of pleasure will most definitely lead to some kind of pain, and I think this is what Aristotle is writing about here. One must analyze a situation and decide what outcome would be best. It is knowing the action that one must take to do the right thing in every situation.

Book III talks about bravery and confidence as well as the evils and fears that we face in everyday life. Aristotle says these fears can influence our decisions because we are scared of what will happen, which is totally understandable. I have made so many decisions based off of the fact that I was scared of a certain outcome because I am scared of everything. Reading this book, I realize I am not brave or a risk-taker at all, and now I’m kind of disappointed with myself but that’s beside the point here. The moral of this book for me is that I need to be braver and we’ll leave it at that.

Aristotle uses this book to also discuss temperance, which means bodily pleasures if U understand it correctly. I think what Aristotle means by this virtue is that it can be a hinderance to one’s life even if one considers it as pleasure. This can be things like drug abuse or unknowingly being hateful or mean to others, and can eventually lead to pain.

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