I am fond of repeating Hegel’s dictum that Plato and Aristotle are the great educators of the human race. Of all their works, if I had to pick one, it is Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics that stands out most for its combination of excellence and broad relevance to the human condition. This is the same one I would recommend to someone starting out reading Aristotle. It is exceptionally well balanced in considering many angles of the subject matter, and very accessible to the nonspecialist. All rational animals should read it.

That said, translations of Aristotle can also make a huge difference. I especially like the one by Joe Sachs, which goes straightforwardly from Greek to English without introducing traditional Latin-based terminology that often obscures Aristotle’s meaning for English readers. Sachs, who has done outstanding translations of many works by Aristotle and Plato, also preserves more of the original syntax, which yields additional insights into the way the philosophers thought. Like Sachs’ other translations, this one comes out very lively and engaging. It is supplemented with excellent notes, introduction, and glossary. (If you have enough Greek to use a lexicon, it is also good to consult the Loeb edition or the old W.D. Ross Oxford edition, both of which include the Greek text.)

Aristotle himself would caution that only people who are fortunate enough to have had upbringing and life experiences leading to the formation of a disposition to be emotionally reasonable will really benefit from this. (See also Reasonableness; Intellectual Virtue, Love; Ends; Willing, Unwilling; Choice, Deliberation; Practical Judgment; Mean; Happiness. )