It’s been a minute since I’ve done a book review, and I’ve never done an audiobook review, though as I write this, I’m reminded of the Space Ghost: Coast to Coast episode entitled Dam, in which Space Ghost interviews Charlton Heston:
Charlton Heston: Uh, you’re, you seem perfectly fluent in English, can you read?
Space Ghost: I like books on tape.
Charlton Heston: Oh, no no no no, we can do better than that, what about Shakespeare?
Space Ghost: What about books on tape?
Charlton Heston: No, nope. Shakespeare, that’s the best of them all. You know Shakespeare.
Space Ghost: Not personally.
Charlton Heston: No… (puts his hand to his face) You know the writings of Shakespeare.
Space Ghost: We didn’t have the theatre when I grew up, Chuck. We had hard work. Long days, mending the nets. Scaling the fish. No part of the fish was wasted, Chuck. We used the entire fish.
I think that puts us in the right context to appreciate Father Joseph Koterski’s course entitled The Ethics of Aristotle. Properly speaking, this is a set of lectures rather than a proper book, but it’s on Audible and this is my blog and these are my rules.
The Ethics of Aristotle was a very interesting listen, providing a lot of detail on topics such as moral excellence, following the classical virtues (courage, temperance, wisdom, and honor), concepts of justice, and friendship as Aristotle describes in his Nicomachean Ethics. Ultimately, Aristotle believes that the good life is a life of happiness, and it is our duty to understand what provides happiness. But Aristotle is clear to separate his notion of happiness (or the good life) with a Benthamite life of pleasure—happiness is not, strictly speaking, wealth or pleasure, but rather doing the right thing for the right reasons.
Speaking of friendship, Father Koterski spends two of his twelve lectures on the topic, noting just how much time Aristotle spends on the topic. We get to learn about Aristotle’s classification of various sorts of friendship and gain some understanding about why some friendships fail where others succeed.
In the classic Plato-Aristotle throw-down, I’m definitely going to side with Aristotle over Plato (though I do believe in Karl Popper’s statement that the level of advancement in various sciences is proportional to the level in which they’ve abandoned Aristotelian thinking), and Father Koterski’s lectures provide a good foundation for why. If you have an Audible account, this is definitely worth the credit. The one thing I wish were different, though, would be to eliminate the applause from the lectures. That noise is unnecessary and detracts from the experience.