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Nor should they always expect Reeve's first word on a subject to be the same as his last.For instance, in Chapter 2, he introduces the idea of "practical perception" as the simple experience of perceptual pleasure and pain; then in Chapter 5, he extends this idea to include a highly complex noetic activity that results from rational deliberation.
But in particular cases, "the indefiniteness of matter" can create exceptions to these absolutely universal and invariant truths.
(82) Thus, Reeve claims, even ethical laws or rules can be absolutely universal and invariant, but still hold only for the most part, because the "matter" involved in a particular situation (rather than genuinely normative considerations, one assumes) can cause an exception without threatening the strictness of the law itself.
Third, Reeve describes the structure of his text as a "map of the Aristotelian world," which proceeds through a "holism" of discussions that evolve as the book progresses.
(ix-x) As such, readers should not expect a point-by-point argument about specific aspects of Aristotle's views about action, contemplation, and happiness that arise from his physical, metaphysical, and theological views.
In the case of action and practical thought, however, learning begins with what Reeve calls "practical perception," which is the experience of pleasure and pain in the perceptual part of the soul.
Practical perception then serves two purposes: to give us an object to pursue or avoid with our appetitive desires, which also occur in the perceptual part of the soul, and to provide an inductive foundation for practical thought.
Finally, Reeve supplements his discussions with original translations of Aristotle, many of which are extensive excerpts set apart from the main text.
These translations are comfortably clear and readable, which makes them accessible to readers of all levels.
He then devotes most of the chapter to defending and explaining Aristotle's claim that virtue of character is a mean in relation to us.
Compared to most scholarly discussions of these topics, Reeve focuses comparatively heavily on the idea that virtues of character are relative to one's political constitution and to one's status as a human being (man, woman, child, slave), and comparatively little on Aristotle's own explanation of the mean as relative to a particular time, place, agent, object, quantity, and so on. Chapter 5, "Practical Wisdom," explains practical wisdom in terms of the so-called "practical syllogism." On Reeve's view, practical reasons have two aspects or parts, which correspond to the two premises in a syllogism.