Volume 15, Issue 1, Fall 2010
Ronna Burger’s Talmudic Reading of the Nicomachean Ethics
Ronna Burger’s Aristotle’s Dialogue with Socrates argues that the Nicomachean Ethics is a unified whole. Her reading runs against the tide of most contemporary scholarship. In particular, Book X.7–8, Aristotle’s valorization and near apotheosis of the “contemplative life,” has been taken to be a Platonic intrusion in a work otherwise characterized by a resolute “anthropocentrism,” as Nussbaum puts it. To account for such an apparent fracture commentators have attributed both chronological development and later editorship to the corpus. Burger, by contrast, offers a “Talmudic reading.” She treats the Nicomachean Ethics as a work of integrity that dialectically culminates in, rather than is interrupted by, X.7–8. This essay situates her argument in a larger context that explores the nature of philosophical reading as such.