Plato and Aristotle: Ethics and Politics




Professor of Philosophy

Project Summary

This summer, I was working Dr. Susan Meyer in the Philosophy Department studying Plato and Aristotle; particularly studying Plato’s Laws and Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. The goal of our project was to study Aristotle’s conception of virtue in the Nicomachean Ethics. Dr. Meyer had an idea that Aristotle believed that the virtuous person did not simply always aim to do what was in line with the kalon (or good). This was an important idea because it meant that the way that scholars had been discussing Aristotle’s ideas about the virtuous person was incorrect or at least incomplete.

            We began the summer with discussions about Plato’s Laws and various Platonic dialogues. We discussed lots of questions related to the laws, as Dr. Meyer was working on making part of a book about it. Some of the questions we discussed included whether Plato’s “rule of law” included political freedom, and what exactly Plato’s conception of political freedom was. We read lots of secondary literature on Plato’s Laws, and proofread proofs of Dr. Meyer’s work.

            Toward the end of the summer, we got around to the Nicomachean Ethics and read an unpublished paper of Dr. Meyer’s. We read some of the comments that had been left to her by fellow scholars about her paper, and examined the merits of each one. Overall, my experience this summer taught me a lot about everything that goes into the academic publishing process. I got to see academic writings at every stage of the process, from draft to publishable work.