This book is an exploration of the epistemological, metaphysical, and psychological foundations of theNicomachean Ethics. In a striking reversal of current orthodoxy, Reeve argues that scientific knowledge (episteme) is possible in ethics, that dialectic and understanding (nous) play essentially the same role in ethics as in an Aristotelian science, and that the distinctive role of practical wisdom (phronesis) is to use the knowledge of universals provided by science, dialectic, and understanding so as to best promote happiness (eudaimonia) in particular circumstances and to ensure a happy life. Turning to happiness itself, Reeves develops a new account of Aristotle's views on ends and functions, exposing their twofold nature. He argues that the activation of theoretical wisdom is primary happiness, and that the activation of practical wisdom--when it is for the sake of primary happiness--is happiness of a secondary kind. He concludes with an account of the virtues of character, external goods, and friends, and their place in the happy life.
'an important and compelling interpretation of Aristotle's conception of ethical reasoning ... An absolute must for any collection in ancient philosophy.'
D.R.C. Reed, Wittenberg University, Choice, June '93
'This book is excellent in many respects: Reeve is an exceptionally clear and concise writer and a formidable dialectician who marshalls his arguments very well indeed. Many of his positions are right on the mark ... Reeve is a vigorous, exciting writer who makes one want to know more about Aristotle. So the book is not just for students, I recommend it to all Aristotle scholars.'
John Bussanich, University of New Mexico, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 4.3 (1993)
'interesting and unusual book ... Reeve's book will be of interest to anyone who has wrestled with the question of how to integrate Aristotle's views on study with his portrait of the virtuous person as engaged in political life.'
Marcias L. Homiak, Occidental College, Mind
'The book includes numerous worthwhile discussions of particular texts, and will provoke valuable debate on the relation between science and ethics in Aristotle.'
C.W.A. Whitaker, Peterhouse, Cambridge, The Classical Review, Vol. XLIV, No. 1 '94
'Reeve's new book will be hailed by scholars and prove welcome to senior undergraduates in classics and to graduates in philosophy who also face a major examination on the Nicomachean Ethics. Much praise is due. We certainly congratulate Professor Reeve on a striking and distinguished contribution to Aristotelian studies.'
John King-Farlow and Guangwei Ouyang, University of Alberta, Review of Metaphysics
`Ambitious and excellent book ... Reeve ... advances some original and provocative claims that deserve the attention of those working on Aristotle's ethics ... This is ... a fine and important book and its original claims will surely provoke further discussion. Specialization in studies of the Nicomachean Ethics has now reached so high a level that it threatens to turn us away from trying to understand the work as a
whole. Reeve here provides a valuable service by keeping the entire work at the centre of his vision.'
The Philosophical Review
`Fine book ... rich and rewarding book. It can be read with profit by students and specialists alike, for it takes a bold interpretative stance without presupposing that the reader is already familiar with the critical literature on Aristotle's ethics.'
Religious Studies Review
`Detailed and thorough in what it sets out to do. A particular merit of Practices of Reason, however, is that it is extremely readable ... Practices of Reason would be of value to both serious students of Aristotle and those who have perhaps only read the Nicomachean Ethics a single time, but are willing to invest some more effort in gaining a clearer
`Each of Reeve's four chapters offers succinct and provocative arguments that shed light on these practices of reason ... this book is well worth reading for Reeve frequently offers insightful readings of vexing passages in the NE ... He bases his reading on a careful study of passages from De Anima. These and other insights concerning the relation between
eudaimonia and external goods, and between eudaimonia and eudaimon lives will reward readers of this book.'
American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly