Title: "Aristotle's Ethics: Have We Been Teaching the Wrong One?", Teaching Philosophy, 6/4, 1983, 331-340.
Author: Lawrence J. Jost
Date: August 2002
Reviewer: John Sellars
 Of Aristotle's ethical works, the Nicomachean Ethics [NE] is by far the best known, and is regularly refered to as simply 'Aristotle's Ethics' without creating any substantial confusion. This preeminence dates back to Andronicus' organisation of the Aristotelian corpus in the first century BC.  However, Anthony Kenny has challenged the widespread claim that the NE is superior to (and later than) the Eudemian Ethics [EE].
 Naturally the EE has a lot of ground to catch up, as the NE has the benefit of a tradition of detailed commentary and discussion dating back to the ancient commentators. The EE offers, in general, tighter arguments, more of the required premisses, and less digression than the NE.  Kenny's discussion depends, in part, on a comparative statistical analysis of the NE books, EE books, and those books common to both.  This appears to show that the EE is closer than the NE to the common books with regard to the frequency of certain key expressions.  Moreover, he argues that the common books form a more coherent work with the books of the EE than they do with those of the NE.
 Those impressed by Kenny's work need to go further and examine particular philosophical concepts in the different works.  Kenny himself has begun this work in a second book on the subject.
 However, the author is wary of proposing that the EE be used in the classroom, at least not yet. It may be more appropriate at a more advanced [i.e. graduate] level.
The bulk of this article simply reports the arguments laid out in Kenny's two books. Although the author is careful not to claim that Kenny's arguments are definitive, he is clearly impressed by them and thinks that the EE deserves to be taken more seriously.
His conclusion, after this extended discussion, is perhaps a little surprising (and also very brief). I would have liked to have heard more about the teaching of the EE and NE. The author's claim that we should not stop teaching the NE reflects his continuing admiration for this work. It may also rest upon certain practical considerations. After all, students are faced with an abundance of secondary literature on the NE, but considerably less on the EE. Moreover, I am not aware of any readily available translations of the EE where its unique books are printed alongside the common books (nor is it printed thus in Barnes' Complete Works or the OCT edition). Until such editions become available it seems unlikely that the EE will become the Aristotelian ethical text of first choice.
In sum, the author's suggestion that the EE be reserved for more advanced courses (whose students are already familiar with the NE) seems reasonable. One would imagine that such a course would spend much of its time comparing the EE with the NE and considering the rightful home of the common books. But if students have already met the common books in the middle of an edition of the NE, and continue to read them there when studying the EE, then - like earlier scholars faced with manuscripts arranged similarly - they may implicitly assume that the NE has greater authority. What is really needed, then, is a complete translation of the EE if students are to study this work on its own terms.
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