Revaluing Ethics

Revaluing Ethics

by Thomas W. Smith
     
 

Revaluing Ethics criticizes the notion that the Nicomachean Ethics is a moral textbook written for an indeterminate audience. Rather, Smith argues that the Ethics is a pedagogy and so must be read in light of the demands imposed by teaching and learning about politics in a tradition. Smith claims that the Ethics initially seeks common ground with ambitious, virile… See more details below

Overview

Revaluing Ethics criticizes the notion that the Nicomachean Ethics is a moral textbook written for an indeterminate audience. Rather, Smith argues that the Ethics is a pedagogy and so must be read in light of the demands imposed by teaching and learning about politics in a tradition. Smith claims that the Ethics initially seeks common ground with ambitious, virile young citizens of ancient city-states who valorize honorable action and competition. Their love of honor can be a spur to virtue, but the competitive character of its pursuit also leads to despotic and factional politics. The drama of the Ethics lies in the dialectical engagement and transformation of a valorization of prestige and power. Aristotle shows how these commitments are paradoxically sterile when pursued in practice. In turn, Aristotle’s strategy for reforming political life is to argue for the reorientation of his audience’s desires away from the non-shareable external goods of political power and honor to shareable good. His strategy for reforming personal life is to argue for the reorientation of his audience’s desires away from honor to a love of contemplation.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780791451427
Publisher:
State University of New York Press
Publication date:
10/28/2001
Series:
SUNY Series in Ancient Greek Philosophy
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
339
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

Table of Contents

Abbreviations
Preface

Introduction

The Return to Aristotle
Protreptic
Dialectic: A Brief Overview

PART I: THE AUDIENCE

1. The Political Character of Aristotle's Pedagogy

Formation and Regimes
The Political Dimensions of the Pedagogy

2. The Audience of the Nicomachean Ethics

The Problem of Audience
Where the Action Is
The Love of Honor and the Love of Activity
The Ambiguous Results of the Pursuit of Honor
Political Effects of the Culture of Honor
Plato's Case against Virtue-as-Equity in the Republic
The Appearance of Virtue
Pedagogical Problems: How Love or Honor Leads to Complacency
Pedagogical Strategies: Virtue-as-Equity
Pedagogical Problems: Philosophy
Questioning Aristotle's Pedagogical Strategy

PART II: REVALUING THE VIRTUES

3. Approaching the Virtues

Does Aristotle Accept his Culture's Notions of the Virtues?
Bifurcating the Soul; Bifurcating Virtue Moral Paralysis
The Devaluation of Reason
Slicing and Dicing the Virtues
Conclusion

4. Criticizing the Moral Virtues

Questions
Manliness
Moderation
Generosity
Magnificence
The Mean with Respect to Anger
Social Relations
Irony

5. Greatness of Soul

Aristotle on Greatness of Soul
The Iliad on Human Limits
Conclusion

6. Justice, Injustice, and Equity

Different Starting Points
Comfortable Risk Minimizers versus Needy Risk Takers
The Problem with Law
The Partiality of Law
Equity
Conclusion

7. Turning Reputable Opinion Upside Down

Reassessing the Relation of Thought to Practice
Thought as an Action
Aristotelian Rationality, the Human Good, and Life Plans
A New Start
Moral Weakness
New Distinctions
Standing Virtue on Its Head

PART III: FRIENDSHIP AND PHILOSOPHY

8. Analogous Communities

Introduction
From Having to Being: Equal versus Unequal Relationships
Interdependence and Human Flourishing
More in the Nature of Things
Analogical Communities
The Common Good in Aristotelian Thought
Theory Informing Practice
Why Bother?
Virtue-as-Equity, Virute-as-Fairness
The Negative Way to Vurtue-as-Equity

9. Hortatory Conclusions

Aristotle Tips his Pedagogical Hand
The Accounts of Pleasure
The Fulfillment of Desire
So Why Won't He Talk about Contemplation

Conclusion: Contemplation, Action, and the Limits of Aristotelian Political Philosophy

The Missing Question
Interpretive Problems
The Way the Problem Appeared to Aristotle's Audience
Practical Wisdom
Contemplation
Contemplation and Its Effects on Practical Wisdom
Practical Wisdom and Providing for Contemplation
Human Limits and the Limits of Aristotelian Political Philosophy

Notes
Bibliography
Index

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