By André Comte-Sponville
André Comte-Sponville, A Small Treatise at the nice Virtues, translated by way of Catherine Temerson (New York, Holt Paperbacks, 2001)
The wanting it truly is that this ebook will make you're feeling stable approximately being good.
The lengthy of it is:
i used to be doing a paper on `value ethics', and my adventure was once that during the area philosophy, particularly due to the fact that 1903, with the publishing of G. E. Moore's Principia Ethica and his promulgation of the `naturalistic fallacy', the respect of values and personality had nearly disappeared. This common effect was once proven whilst I checked out a number of scholarly ethics texts from the 1960's they usually proven in simple conversing, that the learn of ethics had turn into an research of language, given the King Kong sized impression of the works of Ludwig Wittgenstein and the amazing Joe younger sized works of J. L. Austin, a right away descendent of the impact of G. E. Moore's kind of philosophy.
yet I stored following my nostril and in a truly fresh ethics booklet through Terry Eagleton, difficulty With Strangers, he criticized either eu psychologized ethics of Jacques Lacan and the 'high-toned' morality speak of legislation, correct, accountability, precept, and legal responsibility traceable to Immanuel Kant. Eagleton additionally pointed out a comparatively new choice of papers, advantage Ethics, which headlined a big 1958 paper through Wittgenstein scholar, G.E.M. Anscombe on `Modern ethical Philosophy' which begun a go back to advantage ethics. The irony is that the flaw Anscombe pinpointed in ethical philosophy is the absence of sound research in `philosophical psychology', an issue which consistently sounded ordinary to me, because the historical past of philosophy, particularly from the traditional Greeks as much as Descartes, was once a spinning off of disciplines to youngsters similar to physics, arithmetic, and psychology. yet ethics, particularly advantage ethics and a few of the flavors of Utilitarianism stand and fall via what they suggest via psychological states reminiscent of `pleasure' and `happiness'. So, looking back, i used to be no longer too shocked while I searched amazon.com for `virtues' and personality, and got here up with not anything yet books on self-help, psychology, and `Christian values'. That final isn't a surprise, because the modern educational ethical philosophy is all approximately ideas and values for the gang. It spends nearly no time at the ethical standpoint at the person. yet I did locate one useful publication on `moral values' that is a becoming supplement to the recent theoretical paintings on virtues. this is often the booklet stated above, through a latest French professor of philosophy on the Sorbonne. in line with the thumbnail biographical cartoon, this e-book has been translated into 19 languages and has been a bestseller in France.
My first actual reactions have been that the booklet was once no longer a superficially saccharine remedy of the topic and that it did provide severe reflections at the virtues which depended on techniques from many nice philosophers and essayists comparable to Thomas Aquinas, Aristotle, Augustine, Descartes, Epicurus, Sigmund Freud, Immanuel Kant, Montaigne, Friedrich Nietzsche, Pascal, Plato, Spinoza, and Simon Weil. and people are only the excessive issues. whilst the name says `great virtues, I part anticipate finding the seven virtues of Catholic theology or `the seven heavenly virtues' which distinction the seven lethal sins. as a substitute, i locate eighteen, with way more congruence with Aristotle than with the church fathers. those eighteen, in a slightly intuitive order, are:
(Sorry, Amazon squeezes out all of the tabs and additional spaces)
Politeness constancy Prudence Temperance
Courage Justice Generosity Compassion
Mercy Gratitude Humility Simplicity
Tolerance Purity Gentleness sturdy Faith
The perception of prudence could have been one in all Aristotle's maximum contributions to ethical philosophy. it's the estate which tempers the slavish devotion to principles to anything which literally displays good judgment in life.
One irony of advantage ethics is that at the one hand, it really is noticeable as a method to set up an ethical concept autonomous of a trust in God, whereas it additionally looks an improved embodiment of the Christian ethics of the Gospels than the foundations established contemplating Kant or the `greatest strong for the best quantity' utilitarianism of Mill. those are either `Apollonian' types of ethics. with no checking my Nietzsche texts, i believe `virtue ethics' is a extra balanced mixture of the Apollonian with the Dionysian, grounded in instinct, emotion, a little volatile, and with an appreciation of the chaotic.
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Extra info for A Small Treatise on the Great Virtues: The Uses of Philosophy in Everyday Life
When the understanding considers its own proper function, conceiving or understanding, it reﬂects on itself. For Sorbie`re this is the case of a thing which acts on itself, which furnishes an exception to the axiom, ‘nothing acts on itself ’. He writes: The other kind of actions of the understanding which conﬁrm for us the proof of its spiritual nature, is the reﬂection it makes on itself any time it considers itself and its functions, and particularly when it conceives that it understands. This without a doubt surpasses all corporeal faculties.
That, the modal voluntarist insists, would be to conceive of God’s will as constrained. But God is omnipotent; His will cannot be constrained in any way. To say that I clearly and distinctly perceive that Æ is to say I ﬁnd that my will is absolutely bound to assent to Æ. We encounter the modal truths as a species of limitation on our will. I ﬁnd that it is impossible (even under the supposition of the evil demon) for me to do otherwise. I consider the modal proposition in question and I ﬁnd that my will bows before it.
Initially, it might seem perverse to describe something called the ‘Cartesian Model’ as a rival to the Rationalist Model. If anything, use of the word ‘rationalist’ will immediately stir thoughts of Descartes. But beyond the mere draw of nomenclature, the obvious reason for aligning Descartes with the Rationalist Model is that he might well seem like the paradigm advocate of the ‘Insight Ideal’. A cluster of facts conspires to support this impression. First of all, it is hard to even describe the Insight Ideal without slipping in to the Cartesian language of ‘clear and distinct ideas’.