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Philosophy Ethics & Moral Philosophy

Taking Life Seriously

A Study of the Argument of the Nicomachean Ethics

by (author) F.E. Sparshott

University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
Initial publish date
Apr 1996
Ethics & Moral Philosophy, Criticism, Ancient & Classical
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    Publish Date
    Apr 1996
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    Apr 1996
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This is the first book in modern times that makes sense of the Nicomachean Ethics in its entirety as an interesting philosophical argument, rather than as a compilation of relatively independent essays. In Taking Life Seriously Francis Sparshott expounds Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics as a single continuous argument, a chain of reasoned exposition on the problems of human life. He guides the reader through the whole text passage by passage, showing how every part of it makes sense in the light of what has gone before, as well as indicating problems in Aristotle's argument.


No knowledge of Greek is required. When the argument does depend on the precise wording of the Greek text, translations and explanatory notes are provided, and there is a glossary of Greek terms. Sparshott offers insightful and useful criticism, making Taking Life Seriously the best available companion to a first reading of the Ethics.

About the author

F.E. SPARSHOTT was born in England and education at King's School, Rochester, and at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he obtained the B.A. degree with First Class Honours in 1950. Since 1955, he has been teaching in the Philosophy and Classics Departments at Victoria College, University of Toronto, where he is now Professor of Ethics. Professor Sparshott has been Visiting Associate Professor of Philosophy at Northwestern University (1958-59), a Fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies (1961-62), and Visiting Professor of Philosophy at the University of Illinois, Urbana, (1966). He is author of An Enquiry into Goodness and Related Concepts, The Concept of Criticism, A Divided Voice, and A Cardboard Garage.

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Editorial Reviews

'Sparshott succeeds in making us confront the Ethics as a whole, and his attempt to make sense of the work as we have it is refreshing in an age when scholars are often more interested in the provenance of the text than its substance.'

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'Sparshott's refusal to deal with Aristotle in terms of standard scholarly problems is matched by his refusal (or inability) to write academic prose. What he gives us instead is sharp, chatty, sly, at times rambling, occasionally downright perverse... Readers will also find the book to be sensibly organized; that the author is generally cultivated in classics and philosophy; and that he makes his way by taking Aristotle and Aristotle's unspoiled readers extremely seriously, though in neither case at arm's length.'


'This exceptional book deserves to replace W.F.R. Hardie's Aristotle's Ethical Theory (1968) as the standard one-volume companion to Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics (EN). ... Few will agree with this detailed reading at every point, but it repays careful consideration. Glossary of transliterated Greek terms. Interesting quasi-ethnographic appendix, "Aristotle's World," which is not about fourth-century Athens but about the world of Aristotle's theoretical construction. Highly recommended.'


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