Universität Wien FIND

180176 SE The Arab Nicomachean Ethics (2021W)

5.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 18 - Philosophie
Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 25 participants
Language: German


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

The lecture will take place on Zoom. The participants will receive the invitation closer to the beginning of the first lecture.

Thursday 14.10. 16:45 - 18:15 Digital
Thursday 21.10. 16:45 - 18:15 Digital
Thursday 28.10. 16:45 - 18:15 Digital
Thursday 04.11. 16:45 - 18:15 Digital
Thursday 11.11. 16:45 - 18:15 Digital
Thursday 18.11. 16:45 - 18:15 Digital
Thursday 25.11. 16:45 - 18:15 Digital
Thursday 02.12. 16:45 - 18:15 Digital
Thursday 09.12. 16:45 - 18:15 Digital
Thursday 16.12. 16:45 - 18:15 Digital
Thursday 13.01. 16:45 - 18:15 Digital
Thursday 20.01. 16:45 - 18:15 Digital
Thursday 27.01. 16:45 - 18:15 Digital


Aims, contents and method of the course

The Arabic Nicomachean Ethics can be studied in its own right. It is not only a translation of the Greek Aristotelian Nicomachean Ethics, but has from the beginning its understanding and conceptions. However, like its Greek ancestor, its main subject is a (not always) systematic discussion about the conditions and means of pursuing happiness in life.
A particular variation of the Arabic Nicomachean Ethics is an additional seventh book placed between the sixth and the seventh book of the Greek version. Thus, the Arabic Nicomachean Ethics counts at least eleven books. Other Arabic sources mention even twelve books, like the Fihrist (The List), a comprehensive book listing Arabic writings and their authors of all genres produced until the late 10th century. As there is peculiarly only one manuscript transmitted to our times and only discovered in the fifties of the last century, the research about the Arabic Nicomachean Ethics is still very much in its infancy. There were two translators. Books I-IV were translated by Isḥāq ibn Ḥunayn and books V-X by Eustathios. The latter are earlier translated and include the seventh book, integrating elements from the Aristotelian, Neoplatonic, and Arabian ethical perspectives. Though, numerous questions about the reception and reading of the Arabic Nicomachean Ethics are open and even more to be discovered.
This seminar aims at triggering curiosity and further research about a fascinating book, which provides the establishment of specific Arabic conceptions of the Aristotelian moral philosophy. Yet, these conceptions are linked not only to political but similarly to legal and medical-ethical thought in the Islamicate world of the Middle Ages. Finally, a curiosity for Arabic but no knowledge of Arabic is needed to participate in this seminar.

Assessment and permitted materials

Attendance (max. two unexcused absences); weekly writing and submission of an abstract (half page) about the literature in question and formulation of a minimum of one question; a presentation (20 minutes) on the topic of one unit; submission of a seminar paper (approx. 15 pages, Times New Roman, 12 points, line spacing 1.5), submission by 02/11/2022; the final grade consists of the overall assessment of the mentioned parts;

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Evaluation of the partial achievements:
abstracts and questions (30%)
lecture / presentation (30%)
seminar paper (40%)

All partial achievements must have been performed and graded positively to achieve a positive final grade.

Grade 1 = 90-100 points (very good)
Grade 2 = 77-89 points (good)
Grade 3 = 64-76 points (satisfactory)
Grade 4 = 51-63 points (adequate)
Grade 5 = 0-50 points (inadequate)

Examination topics

The literature discussed in the seminar.

Reading list

Primary literature
Akasoy, Anna and Alexander Fidora (eds.), and Douglas Morton Dunlop (2005): The Arabic Version of the Nicomachean Ethics, Leiden: Brill.

Secondary literature
Akasoy, Anna (2013): "The Arabic and Islamic reception of the Nicomachean Ethics", in J. Miller (ed.), The Reception of Aristotle's Ethics, Cambridge, 85-106.
Berman, Lawrence (1962): "A note on the Added Seventh Book of the Nicomachean Ethics in Arabic", JAOS, 82 555-556.
Bouhafa, Feriel (2019): "Ethics and Fiqh in al-Fārābī’s Philosophy", in Peter Adamson (ed.), Philosophy and Jurisprudence in the Islamic World, Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 11-28.
D’Ancona, Christina (2004): "Greek into Arabic", in Peter Adamson and Richard Taylor (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy, Cambridge, 10-31.
Dunlop, D. M. (1954): "Introduction", in Anna Akasoy, and Alexander Fidora: The Arabic Version of the Nicomachean Ethics, Leiden: Brill, 2005, 1-26.
Fink, Jakob Leth (ed.) (2019): Phantasia in Aristotle's Ethics: Reception in the Arabic, Greek, Hebrew and Latin Traditions, Bloomsbury.
Germann, Nadja (2015): "Logic as the Path to Happiness: Al-Fārābī and the Divisions of the Sciences", in Pasquale Porro, The Pleasure of Knowledge, Brepols, 15-30.
Gutas, Dimitri (2012): "Populäre Ethik und Praktische Politik", in Ulrich Rudolph (ed.) PhidiW, Basel: Schwabe, 258-479.
Harvey, Steven and Frédérique Woerther (2014): Averroes’ Middle Commentary on Book I of the Nicomachean Ethics, Oriens 42, 254-287.
Harvey, Warren Zev (2013): "Ethical Theories among Medieval Jewish Philosophers", in Elliot N. Dorff und Jonathan K. Crane (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Ethics and Morality, Oxford, 84-87.
Hayes, J., and Aristotelēs (2015): ‘The Arabic Reception of the Nicomachean Ethics’, in Aristotle and the Arabic Tradition, Ahmed Alwishah and Josh Hayes (eds.), Cambridge, 200-213.
Neria, Chaim Meir (2013): "AL-Fārābī’s Lost Commentary On The Ethics: New Textual Evidence", Arabic Sciences and Philosophy, 23(1), 69-99.
Omar, Mohd. Nasir (2003): Christian and Muslim ethics: a study of how to attain happiness as reflected in the works on Tahdhib Al-Akhlaq by Yahya Ibn 'Adi (d. 974) and Miskawayh (d. 1030), Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
Regnier, Daniel (2019): "Imagination in the Theology of Aristotle", Journal of the History of Philosophy 57, no. 2, 181-204.
Schmidt, Ernst A. and Manfred Ullmann (2012): Aristoteles in Fes. Zum Wert der arab. Überlieferung der Nikomachischen Ethik für die Kritik des griechischen Textes, Schriften der phil.-hist. Klasse der Heidelberger Akad. d. Wissenschaften, Bd. 49, Heidelberg.
Ullmann, Manfred (2012): Die Nikomachische Ethik Des Aristoteles in Arabischer Übersetzung, 2 Bände: 1. Wortschatz, 2. Überlieferung - Textkritik – Grammatik, Wiesbaden, 13-29 (1), 15-19 (2).
Wisnovsky, Robert (2011): "Towards a Natural-History Model of Philosophical Change: Greek into Arabic, Arabic into Latin, and Arabic into Arabic", in idem. (ed.), Vehicles of Transmission, Translation, and Transformation in Medieval Textual Culture, 143–57.
Woerther, F. (2018): Averroes’ Goals in the Paraphrase (Middle Commentary) of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, in P. Adamson and M. Di Giovanni (eds.), Interpreting Averroes: Critical Essays, Cambridge, 218-236.

Further reading and reference works
Adamson, Peter and Richard C. Taylor (eds.) (2005): The Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy, Cambridge, xv-xviii.
Rudolph, Ulrich (ed.) u. Mitarbeit v. Renate Würsch (2012): Philosophie in der islamischen Welt I, 8.-10. Jahrhundert, Basel: Schwabe.

Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition: https://referenceworks.brillonline.com/browse/encyclopaedia-of-islam-2.
Encyclopaedia of Islam, Third Edition: https://referenceworks.brillonline.com/browse/encyclopaedia-of-islam-3.
History of Philosophy without any gaps: https://historyofphilosophy.net/.

The complete bibliography will be announced at the beginning of the course.

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Fr 12.05.2023 00:18