New Member trying to understand aristotles ethics

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Reply Thu 2 Oct, 2008 02:50 am
Hi Everyone,

I'm from New Zealand and have been taking an increasing interest in philosophy in recent years. There is so much I don't know though, which is what lead me here.

I'm currently trying to read Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, however the version I have has got the occasional word from a foreign language (latin? greek?). It uses some some sort of symbols and I don't know how to find the meaning of these words ... can anyone help?
Reply Thu 2 Oct, 2008 04:58 am
It is most likely Greek. Tell you what, If you post the words with their locations in the book (by use of chapters and alinea's and such, not page numbers) and I'll see what I can do.
Reply Thu 2 Oct, 2008 06:25 am
While I am not certain what is meant by "some sort of symbols," I would suspect that these are scholarly apparatus providing variant readings of the critical edition used (perhaps <>? indicating a significant variant to the standard Greek text). Providing bibliographic information about what book you are using, or an example would be helpful. It may be that if you are using one book in a series that the key to symbols is contained in the first volume only, although one would expect the key to be included in each.

Citations of Aristotle are always to the Bekker edition of Aristotle's works in Greek, e.g. Metaphysics (abbreviated Meta) 1078b27. This allows easy reference to the original text and the location of the passage across many different translations.
Reply Fri 3 Oct, 2008 02:37 am
I don't remeber really having a problem when I read it.

Maybe compare it to an online text of it, to see what it says. NICOMACHEAN ETHICS translated by W. D. Ross
Reply Fri 10 Oct, 2008 11:20 pm
I am studying ancient Greek, so if you post the words I could figure them out for you. You also have to remember that many Greek words are loaded compared to their English translations. For example eudaimonia translates to happiness. But it is such a dense conception of happiness that the original word is still actually better than the translation.

By the way, I have also just finished studying Nichomachean Ethics in a grad/undergrad class. I strongly recommend the Christopher Rowe and Sarah Brodie version put out by Oxford. The translation is awesome, the introductions are outstanding, and the notes help understand one of the most difficult reads of all time.
Reply Sat 11 Oct, 2008 09:48 am

Wecome to the forum, OutdoorNZ, most pleased to have you with us, make yourself at home, and think about making your first topical post. Again WELCOME!! Boagie:bigsmile:
Reply Sat 11 Oct, 2008 10:13 am
Welcome Outdoor, I admit, I haven't read any Aristotle yet.
Reply Sat 11 Oct, 2008 11:46 am
Welcome outdoorsNZ!

Like everyone else is saying, it is probably Greek. But it might be modern, classical modern, or Archaic Greek.

My knowledge of ancient alpha systems is not very extensive and I read it in a below average sense, but here are a few symbols in archaic and classical modern greek that I remember.

Please forgive my horrible MS paint job... I wish they had a good font for this.
Also, if you encounter upsilon, phi, chi, psi, and omega, you are dealing with classical modern greek. Archaic Greek does not possess these phonetical values.

However, I don't think that many school books include the old writing systems in their book translations. Chances are you are looking at the classical modern/German translation of the archaic word. German translation to classical modern is very common and many people mistake it for the actual ancient alpha system.

Here is an example of Hercules (the mythical figure) in Archaic, translated into classical modern, then into German (phonetical).

Note the arrow looking E (namely, epsilon). Archaic Greek can be written from either left to right or right to left. One of the main ways to determine which way the word is going is to look at the direct of the epsilons.
Also, when you are looking at a direct translation, you will see periods everywhere. These are not periods as in sentence periods, but rather they separate individual words. Those dots could range from one dot to six dots in a cluster, etc. Seems nice until you read Homer in dactylic examiner... looks a lot like braille.

As to the meanings of those words, that depends on your ability to translate or match the translation to a listed word. If its in modern greek, you can easily find the translation on wiki or google. Typically, finding the core translations to those words is very helpful because you get purer answer. But I would not bother with it unless it was absolutely necessary.

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