The ancients defined education, in the
broadest sense, as training children in Ethics. Plato, for
example, taught that:
"The particular training in respect of
pleasure and pain, which leads you always to hate what you ought to hate
and to love what you ought to love from the beginning of life to the
end...will be rightly called education."
Students in most schools today are expected
to grow up into virtuous men and women without any formal training in
Ethics. This neglect is presumptuous and unprecedented in history.
The Classical Liberal Arts Academy, in
addition to our overall focus on intellectual and spiritual formation,
provides a complete course in classical Ethics, studying Aristotle's
Nicomachean Ethics in the fourth part of our classical
Aristotle's Ethics consists of ten books,
all of which are studied in this year-long course. The books do
not divide evenly by topic, but cover the following seven subjects:
I. The Good for Man
Students begin considering the question of what is good for man?
Aristotle discusses popular notions of good and explains the true
definition of what is good for man: happiness.
II. Moral Virtue
Aristotle explains the relative nature of
moral virtue and defines moral virtue as the balance between opposite
III. Virtues and Vices
Students examine the individual virtues of
Courage, Temperance and Justice as well as those virtues which relate to
money, honor, anger and social relations.
IV. Intellectual Virtue
Aristotle identifies and describes the chief
intellectual virtues: Science, Art, Practical Wisdom, Intuitive
Reason, Philosophical Wisdom, Deliberation, Understanding and Judgment.
V. Continence & Incontinence; Pleasure
Examination of Continence (Self-Control) and Incontinence and the
various degrees of them as well as Self-Indulgence and Pleasure.
Aristotle discusses the nature and importance of Friendship in the
pursuit of happiness. Students consider the kinds of friendship,
the difference between loving and being loved, the origins of friendship
and man's need for friendship.
VII. Pleasure & Happiness
Lastly, Aristotle guides us through the distinction between Pleasure
and Happiness. In concluding the Ethics, Aristotle explains the
relationship between Ethics and Politics.