Intro to Aristotle’s Ethics: How to Lead a Good Life

Aristotle’s Ethics

Nicomachean Ethics is the name normally given to Aristotle’s best-known work on ethics. The title is often assumed to refer to his son Nicomachus – or it may be named after his father, who was also called Nicomachus.

The work, which plays a preeminent role in defining Aristotelian ethics, consists of ten books, originally separate scrolls, and is understood to be based on notes from his lectures at the Lyceum.

In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle develops a picture of the happy life and presents a guide for securing it. He argues that happiness chiefly depends upon a person’s character, which is engraved into the soul by the choices one makes.

“Incoming freshmen at Hillsdale College are given this book to read prior to beginning coursework,” said Hillsdale College President Larry P. Arnn. “It introduces them to the question of how best to live, a question central to liberal education. This is the first book written on the subject, and—apart from the Bible—remains the very best.”

Introduction to Aristotle’s Ethics

Now anyone can take Hillsdale’s free online course, “Introduction to Aristotle’s Ethics: How to Lead a Good Life.” To sign up for the free course, visit

In this 10-lecture course, Larry P. Arnn leads students through the most important lessons of ethics, including Aristotle’s teachings about human nature, the meaning of the good, and the virtues necessary for happiness.

Students will not only learn what Aristotle says about the good life, but will also explore ways to put this knowledge to work—an activity that will change the lives of those who pursue it. Each lecture is accompanied by a study guide and comes with a quiz. Discussion of course lectures and readings on the discussion board are encouraged. There is also a final quiz.

Course Schedule:

  1. The Good
  2. Aristotle’s Politics and the Nature of Man
  3. Happiness
  4. Character
  5. Deliberation and Choice
  6. Courage
  7. Justice
  8. Practical Judgment
  9. Friendship
  10. Contemplation and Action

Register for this free course on Aristotle’s Ethics today!

To watch the trailer and register, click here:

About the Online Courses

Hillsdale’s free, not-for-credit online courses feature lectures from many of the college’s faculty across various disciplines including politics, history, economics, religion, and literature. For more information on Hillsdale College’s online courses, click here.

What types of activities and courses have you used as electives? Leave a comment and we may include yours in a future column!

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