Eudemian Ethics 1:5 1216

Socrates, then, the elder, thought the knowledge of virtue to be the end, and used to inquire what is justice, what bravery and each of the parts of virtue; and his conduct was reasonable, for he thought that all the virtues are kinds of knowledge, so that to know justice and to be just came simultaneously; for the moment we have learnt geometry and architecture, we are architects and geometricians; therefore he inquired what virtue is, but not how and from what sources it arises. This is correct with regard to theoretical sciences, for there is no other part of astronomy or physics or geometry except to knowing and contemplating the nature of the things that are the subjects of those sciences; although it is true that they may quite possibly be useful to us incidentally for many of our necessary requirements. But the end of the productive sciences is something different from science and knowledge, for example the end of medicine is health and that of political science ordered government, or something of that sort, different from mere knowledge of the science. Now to know anything that is noble is itself noble; but regarding goodness, at least, it is not to know what it is,  but to know out of what it arises is most precious. For our aim is not to know what bravery is but to be brave, not to know what justice is but to be just, in the same way as we want to be healthy rather than to know what being in health is, and to have our body in good condition rather than to know what good bodily condition is.


Aristotle – Eudemian Ethics 1:5 1216b2-1216b25

Nichomachean Ethics 2:6 1106b

If it is thus, then, that every art does its work well – by looking to the intermediate and judging its works by this standard (so that we often say of good works of art that it is not possible either to take away or to add anything, implying that excess and defect destroy the goodness of works of art, while the mean preserves it; and good artists, as we say, look to this in their work), and if, further, virtue is more exact and better than any art, as nature also is, then virtue must have the quality of aiming at the intermediate. I mean moral virtue; for it is this that is concerned with passions and actions, and in these there is excess, defect, and the intermediate. For instance, both fear and confidence and appetite and anger and pity and in general pleasure and pain may be felt both too much and too little, and in both cases not well; but to feel them at the right times, with reference to the right objects, towards the right people, with the right motive, and in the right way, is what is both intermediate and best, and this is characteristic of virtue. Similarly with regard to actions also there is excess, defect, and the intermediate. Now virtue is concerned with passions and actions, in which excess is a form of failure, and so is defect, while the intermediate is praised and is a form of success; and being praised and being successful are both characteristics of virtue. Therefore virtue is a kind of mean, since, as we have seen, it aims at what is intermediate.


Aristotle – Nichomachean Ethics 2:6 1106b7-1106b28

Nichomachean Ethics 2:4 1105a

The question might be asked; what we mean by saying that we must become just by doing just acts, and temperate by doing temperate acts; for if men do just and temperate acts, they are already just and temperate, exactly as, if they do what is in accordance with the laws of grammar and of music, they are grammarians and musicians…

Again, the case of the arts and that of the virtues are not similar; for the products of the arts have their goodness in themselves, so that it is enough that they should have a certain character, but if the acts that are in accordance with the virtues have themselves a certain character it does not follow that they are done justly or temperately. The agent also must be in a certain condition when he does them; in the first place he must have knowledge, secondly he must choose the acts, and choose them for their own sakes, and thirdly his action must proceed from a firm and unchangeable character. These are not reckoned in as conditions of the possession of the arts, except the bare knowledge; but as a condition of the possession of the virtues knowledge has little or no weight, while the other conditions count not for a little but for everything, i.e. the very conditions which result from often doing just and temperate acts.

Actions, then, are called just and temperate when they are such as the just or the temperate man would do; but it is not the man who does these that is just and temperate, but the man who also does them as just and temperate men do them. It is well said, then, that it is by doing just acts that the just man is produced, and by doing temperate acts the temperate man; without doing these no one would have even a prospect of becoming good.

But most people do not do these, but take refuge in theory and think they are being philosophers and will become good in this way, behaving somewhat like patients who listen attentively to their doctors, but do none of the things they are ordered to do. As the latter will not be made well in body by such a course of treatment, the former will not be made well in soul by such a course of philosophy.


Aristotle – Nichomachean Ethics 2:4 1105a18-1105b17

Nichomachean Ethics 2:1 1103a

Virtue, then, being of two kinds, intellectual and moral, intellectual virtue in the main owes both its birth and its growth to teaching (for which reason it requires experience and time), while moral virtue comes about as a result of habit, whence also its name (ethike) is one that is formed by a slight variation from the word habit (ethos). From this it is also plain that none of the moral virtues arises in us by nature; for nothing that exists by nature can form a habit contrary to its nature. For instance the stone which by nature moves downwards cannot be habituated to move upwards, not even if one tries to train it by throwing it up ten thousand times; nor can fire be habituated to move downwards, nor can anything else that by nature behaves in one way be trained to behave in another. Neither by nature, then, nor contrary to nature do the virtues arise in us; rather we are adapted by nature to receive them, and are made perfect by habit.

Again, of all the things that come to us by nature we first acquire the potentiality and later exhibit the activity (this is plain in the case of the senses; for it was not by often seeing or often hearing that we got these senses, but on the contrary we had them before we used them, and did not come to have them by using them); but the virtues we get by first exercising them, as also happens in the case of the arts as well. For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them, e.g. men become builders by building and lyre-players by playing the lyre; so too we become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.

This is confirmed by what happens in states; for legislators make the citizens good by forming habits in them, and this is the wish of every legislator, and those who do not effect it miss their mark, and it is in this that a good constitution differs from a bad one.

Again, it is from the same causes and by the same means that every virtue is both produced and destroyed, and similarly every art; for it is from playing the lyre that both good and bad lyre-players are produced. And the corresponding statement is true of builders and of all the rest; men will be good or bad builders as a result of building well or badly. For if this were not so, there would have been no need of a teacher, but all men would have been born good or bad at their craft. This, then, is the case with the virtues also; by doing the acts that we do in our transactions with other men we become just or unjust, and by doing the acts that we do in the presence of danger, and being habituated to feel fear or confidence, we become brave or cowardly. The same is true of appetites and feelings of anger; some men become temperate and good-tempered, others self-indulgent and irascible, by behaving in one way or the other in the appropriate circumstances. Thus, in one word, states of character arise out of like activities. This is why the activities we exhibit must be of a certain kind; it is because the states of character correspond to the differences between these. It makes no small difference, then, whether we form habits of one kind or of another from our very youth; it makes a very great difference, or rather all the difference.


Aristotle – Nichomachean Ethics 2:1 1103a14-1103b26

Nichomachean Ethics 6:2 1139a

Thinking (dianoia) itself moves nothing, but only thinking for the sake of something and practical (praktike); for this is the governing source (arche) also of productive activity (poietike)…. Now, regarding the thing done (to prakton) acting-well is the end, and desire (or appetite; orexis) is for this. Therefore, choice (proairesis)- [the source of action] – is either appetitive intellect (orektikos nous) or thoughtful appetite (orexis dianoetike), and a human being (anthropos) is such a principle (or source; arche).


Aristotle – Nichomachean Ethics 6:2 1139a36-1139b7

The Essential Loewald p.xv (Introduction)

When Freud thought he had traced a neurosis back to an actual seduction, he thought he had an explanation. His questioning mind came to rest. But why should a simple appeal to reality – even if that reality is an actual seduction – be the explanatory end-of-the-line? Freud never answered that question, indeed he never asked it. There was something about finding a real-life event that induced in him an explanatory calm – and he never became puzzled about why.

It is well known that by 1897 Freud abandoned the seduction hypothesis, but in a deep sense he was never able really to give it up. He did abandon the idea that neurosis was always and everywhere caused by an actual seduction in childhood, but he never abandoned the idea that a real explanation must appeal to a real event. If the real event did not happen to the individual, it must have happened to the species. Freud speculates that history began with a primal crime: the sons band together and kill the “primal father.” But this killing is such a traumatic event that it lays down a “phylogenetic inheritance” – a memory trace – that is passed on from one generation to the next. Freud did not have the language of DNA at his disposal, but his point was that the event of this primal murder was so traumatic that a memory of it was laid down in the human genome. Guilt, for Freud, is part of our genetic inheritance because it is part of the real, historical past. Obviously, Freud has no evidence for this claim other than the guilt he himself saw. That is, the intractable guilt he saw in his patients, in certain religious practices, and in Judeo-Christian culture as a whole could not, he though, be explained merely as expressions of fantasy. There had to be a real-life crime – if not now, then in the archaic past – to which the guilt was a response.

A moment’s reflection will convince you that this reasoning transparently begs the question. The only reason that this level of guilt could not be the outcome of fantasy is that Freud thinks it is too much for fantasy to explain on its own. That isn’t a reason it’s an unquestioned supposition. Freud couldn’t see the vicious circularity of his reasoning because he took reality for granted. No explanation made sense to him unless he could ultimately ground it in an appeal to reality, but it didn’t seem to matter that he couldn’t make sense of reality itself.


Jonathan Lear – The Essential Loewald: Introduction p.xv.

Happiness, Death, and the Remainder of Life p.45

According to Freud, trauma has a retrospective structure. In the typical scenario that Freud envisaged, a child has an experience—a seduction— that at the time she cannot understand. Nevertheless, a trace of the event is laid down in memory. Only later, as the child develops, is there an experience that triggers a retrospective understanding of the meaning of the earlier experience. But this new understanding cannot be assimilated: it wounds the mind that was on the verge of understanding it. On this model, neither of the two experiences is traumatic in and of itself. The earlier experience need not have been traumatic when it occurred, because it was registered but not understood. The later experience, for its part, can be innocent in itself—as, for instance, the experience of mild sexual arousal in a situation that triggers a reminiscence of the earlier occasion. What becomes explosive is the cocktail of both those experiences.


Jonathan Lear – Happiness, Death, and the Remainder of Life p.45

The Art of Biblical Narrative p.174

A basic biblical perception about both human relations and relations between God and man is that love is unpredictable, arbitrary, at times perhaps seemingly unjust, and Judah now comes to an acceptance of that fact with all its consequences. His father, he states clearly to Joseph, has singled out Benjamin for a special love, as he singled out Rachel’s other son before. It is a painful reality of favoritism with which Judah, in contrast to the earlier jealousy over Joseph, is here reconciled, out of filial duty and more, out of filial love. His entire speech is motivated by the deepest empathy for his father, by a real understanding of what it means for the old man’s very life to be bound up with that of the lad. He can even bring himself to quote sympathetically (verse 27) Jacob’s typically extravagant statement that his wife bore him two sons – as though Leah were not also his wife and the other ten were not also his sons. Twenty-two years earlier, Judah engineered the selling of Joseph into slavery; now he is prepared to offer himself as a slave so that the other son of Rachel can be set free. Twenty-two years earlier, he stood with his brothers and silently watched when the bloodied tunic they had brought to Jacob sent their father into a fit of anguish; now he is willing to do anything in order not to have to see his father suffering again.


Robert Alter – The Art of Biblical Narrative p.174

The Art of Biblical Narrative p.21

Modern scholars are able to declare so confidently that certain parts of the ancient text could not belong with others: the supposedly primitive narrative is subjected by scholars to tacit laws like the law of stylistic unity, of noncontradiction, of nondigression, of nonrepetition, and by these dim but purportedly universal lights is found to be composite, deficient, or incoherent. (If just these four laws were applied respectively to Ulysses, The Sound and the Fury, Tristram Shandy, and Jealousy, each of these novels would have to be relegated to the dustbin of shoddily “redacted” literary scraps.)


Robert Alter – The Art of Biblical Narrative p.21

Hysteria p.173

Freud’s theory of technique is based entirely on the nature of the relationship between analysand and psychoanalyst. The patient is to free associate, especially reporting thoughts which seem irrelevant or unimportant, and the analyst is to enter a frame of mine – evenly suspended attentiveness – in which the analyst is not to concentrate on anything in particular, not to have expectations, not to remember anything in particular, and by these means to catch the drift of the patient’s unconscious with his own unconscious’ (Freud, 1923). Practically speaking in this frame of mind the psychoanalyst will be drifting inside the patient’s material, and every so often will be struck by something. He or she will find a word, an image, a phrase, a person or an event described to be interesting. He or she will not know why it is interesting and this is, of course, exactly the point. The interest will be determined by the analyst’s own unconscious as it links with the patient’s unconscious.


Christopher Bollas – Hysteria p.173