Passage Analysis on Aristotle (friendship)

analyze an argument chosen from one of the two paragraphs, need original thesis.

Aristotle, “Why Do We Need Friends?” (IX.9)
a. Paragraph 5 (IX.9§5). Attend carefully to paragraphs 1-6 (IX.9§4-6)
b. Paragraph 10 (IX.9§10). Attend carefully to paragraphs 7-10 (IX.9§7-10)

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You should choose one of the paragraphs to focus on. But notice that the paragraph will not necessarily contain all of the premises of the argument in the passage. So in order to complete your analysis of the argument within one of these paragraphs, you will need to refer to other statements the author makes in the section. In fact, you may need to refer to things the author says in other sections of the text entirely.

Essay progression guide:

1) Framing the analysis. It may help to imagine you are a teacher preparing to teach the passage to students. What do they need to know in order to understand the argument in the passage? For example, perhaps the main claim of the passage is a crucial premise in the overall argument of a larger section of the text. Or perhaps it resolves a question that emerged in previous sections of the text, or takes a position in a debate with the author of another text. There is an example of the sort of thing I am looking for here.
a. Discover and state important features of the textual and argumentative context in which the argument in the passage unfolds. Framing the analysis informs your reader about:
i. How the argument of the passage plays a role in the larger argument of the text
ii. How it sets up what happens in the text after the passage, or resolves what came before the passage
iii. The larger philosophical debate in which the passage’s argument is a part (for example, its role in the author’s ethical theory)
iv. The position(s) against which the author is arguing
v. The purpose of the author in writing the passage
b. Forecast your thesis. Tell your reader what your paper ultimately aims to demonstrate about the argument in this passage. Note that you will probably need to revise this after you have completed the Argument Analysis and the Critical Dicussion and written your Conclusion. But even when you start writing, you may have a general direction in mind, and you can put that here as a placeholder. Just don’t forget to reconsider it in your revision process.

2) Argument analysis. I am asking for a formalized argument analysis. Here is an example (this formalizes further the example I already linked above; both are acceptable, but you must list and label the premises, any intermediate conclusions, and the final conclusion). It may help to begin by isolating the parts of the passage that are have a logical function—for example, highlight these to separate them from the phrases and statements that are superfluous to the core reasoning.
a. Locate the main conclusion
b. Locate the premises (or intermediate conclusions) that are meant to support the main conclusion)
c. Locate the premises (or intermediate conclusions) that are meant to support any intermediate conclusions
d. If the author is using any unstated assumptions to get to their conclusion, formulate these explicitly. This can reveal weak points in the author’s reasoning.
e. State as declarative sentences each of the final conclusion and each of the premises, intermediate conclusions, and assumptions
f. Label the statements as premises (P), intermediate conclusions (IC), and final conclusions (FC). If one or more of the premises is an unstated assumption, use A instead of P for those premises. For example, if the main conclusion is “friendship is the highest external good,” then this might appear as:
(FC) Friendship is the highest external good
g. Number the statements. For example, if the final conclusion is the 8th statement:
(8, FC) Friendship is the highest external good
h. Indicate the logical connections between the statements by placing the numbers of the statements that are meant as support for an IC or FC in parentheses at the end of the statement. For example, if the FC is supported by an IC which is statement 4, another IC which is statement 6, and an unstated assumption which is statement 7:
(8, FC) Friendship is the highest external good (from 4, 6, 7)
i. Arrange the statements in a coherent order so that your reader can see how support is meant to flow from premises, through any intermediate conclusions, and to the final conclusion (reordering will require reassigning the statements’ numbers, so be careful not to get confused).
j. The list from step (i) is the version that should go into your essay. Use textual evidence to demonstrate that the formalized argument you have produced is indeed a good interpretation of the argument in the passage. This may mean presenting the argument a line or two at a time, interspersed with more informal explanatory narration of the argument that makes direct references to the passage.

3) Critical discussion
a. Make an objection. This should be either an objection to one of the premises, or an objection to the reasoning that leads from the premises to the conclusion. Identify the move in the argument that you object to by citing the numbers of the statements in your formalized argument. For example, you might object to premise 3 (3, P). Or you might object to the reasoning that derives an intermediate conclusion (4, IC) from the initial three premises (from 1, 2, 3). Remember to look at our handout on making objections if you need some examples.
b. Respond to the objection on the author’s behalf. What could the author reply to defend their argument against your objection?

4) Conclusion
a. Draw an original conclusion about the argument in the passage. This is the thesis of your paper.
b. Revise your whole paper with this thesis in mind. Make sure that all the elements of your paper work together to demonstrate this thesis.

You should choose one of the paragraphs to focus on. But notice that the paragraph will not necessarily contain all of the premises of the argument in the passage. So in order to complete your analysis of the argument within one of these paragraphs, you will need to refer to other statements the author makes in the section. In fact, you may need to refer to things the author says in other sections of the text entirely.

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