In Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics BK IV. Chapter 4, he describes the virtue of smaller honours. He notes that the person can be either ambitious for smaller honours or balanced for them. I am curious what he means by "smaller honours".

What do small honours mean? and what does he mean by this?

  • 3
    I don't know the answer to this question other than to suggest that "small honours" are small amounts of praise for one's actions like "good job" and that seeking these in excess is wrong but there must be a medium. I would say that in general (when I teach Aristotle), I don't focus on the specific virtues after magnanimity -- as many of them are highly culturally linked, and some like "small honours" are slightly obscure in meaning and import. – virmaior Jun 16 '15 at 2:36

By "honours" Aristotle may mean "rewards". Because he contrasts "honours" with "punishments":

It is perhaps a necessary task for those who are investigating the nature of Virtue to draw out the distinction between what is voluntary and what involuntary; and it is certainly useful for legislators, with respect to the assigning of honours and punishments. (Ethics Bk III Ch I)

If so, then "small honours" means "small rewards".

  • 3
    Perhaps, but there's a contrast with BK IV.3 which talks about magnanimity and speaks of rewards (timeo) that are associated there and how we should see these. I looked Terence Irwin's commentary on the two sections and could not come up with much as to what specifically distinguishes small rewards. For the relevant passage, we are told the virtue is unnamed (meaning no word existed in Greek for the virtuous degree of seeking small rewards). Consequently, it's not clear if 3.1 is going to do much for explaining 4.4 since rewards also occurs the virtue at 4.3. – virmaior Jun 17 '15 at 14:26

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