Aristotle's teaching on the subject of happiness has been a topic of intense philosophical debate in recent years. Did he hold that happiness consists in the exercise of all the virtues, moral and intellectual, or that supreme happiness is to be found only in the practice of philosophical contemplation? The question is vital to the relevance of his ethics today.
Anthony Kenny helped to set the terms of the debate a quarter of a century ago. Later, in his book The Aristotelian Ethics (Clarendon Press, 1978), he argued that Aristotle's Eudemian Ethics had no less claim than the better-known Nicomachean Ethics to be taken as a late and definitive statement of Aristotle's position. In this new book he refines his view of the relationship between the two treatises and shows how to reach a consensus on the interpretation of the texts. Aristotle's admirers struggle to read a comprehensive account of the supreme happiness into the Nicomachean Ethics; Dr Kenny argues that those who are prepared to take the neglected Eudemian Ethics with equal seriousness are able to preserve their admiration intact without doing violence to any of the relevant texts.
'The eight essays are extremely learned, and there is much judicious commentary on the writings of contemporary commentators.'
Dorothy Mitchell, La Trobe University, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 'I believe that no interpreter of Aristotle's moral philosophy can ignore Kenny's book ... one will think harder and better than one would without the challenge of his arguments. In one way or another this work teaches us a great deal, as do all of Kenny's writings.'
Timothy D. Roche, Memphis State University, Mind, Vol. 103, No. 410, April 1994 'a further salvo in Anthony Kenny's campaign to induce ancient philosophers to pay proper attention to the Eudemian as well as the Nicomachean Ethics'
M.B. Trapp, King's College, The Classical Review, Vol. XLIII, No. 2, 1993 'Kenny presents the standard intellectualist line'
Journal of the History of Philosophy 'Kenny's study will occupy a prominent position in the current flood of books on Aristotle's ethics. It warrants attention simply for its careful assessment of current scholarship. Highly recommended.'
J. Bussanich, University of New Mexico, Choice, Apr '93 `it is an important contribution, especially to the explication of a difficult but important text, the Eudemian Ethics ... he once again deserves thanks both for his vigorous scepticism and for his forthright discussion of such basic issues'
Bryn Mawr Classical Review 4.1(1993)