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By André Comte-Sponville

André Comte-Sponville, A Small Treatise at the nice Virtues, translated by means of Catherine Temerson (New York, Holt Paperbacks, 2001)

The wanting it's that this publication will make you are feeling reliable approximately being good.

The lengthy of it is:

i used to be doing a paper on `value ethics', and my adventure used to be that during the area philosophy, particularly in view that 1903, with the publishing of G. E. Moore's Principia Ethica and his promulgation of the `naturalistic fallacy', the distinction of values and personality had nearly disappeared. This common impact was once proven whilst I checked out a couple of scholarly ethics texts from the 1960's and so they proven in undeniable conversing, that the research of ethics had turn into an research of language, given the King Kong sized effect of the works of Ludwig Wittgenstein and the effective Joe younger sized works of J. L. Austin, a right away descendent of the impact of G. E. Moore's variety of philosophy.

yet I stored following my nostril and in a really contemporary ethics ebook through Terry Eagleton, difficulty With Strangers, he criticized either eu psychologized ethics of Jacques Lacan and the 'high-toned' morality speak of legislation, correct, responsibility, precept, and legal responsibility traceable to Immanuel Kant. Eagleton additionally mentioned a comparatively new number of papers, advantage Ethics, which headlined a big 1958 paper through Wittgenstein pupil, 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', a subject matter which regularly sounded unusual to me, because the historical past of philosophy, specially from the traditional Greeks as much as Descartes, used to be a spinning off of disciplines to youngsters resembling physics, arithmetic, and psychology. yet ethics, specially advantage ethics and a few of the flavors of Utilitarianism stand and fall through what they suggest by way of psychological states akin to `pleasure' and `happiness'. So, looking back, i used to be now not too stunned while I searched for `virtues' and personality, and got here up with not anything yet books on self-help, psychology, and `Christian values'. That final is not surprising, because the modern educational ethical philosophy is all approximately ideas and values for the crowd. It spends nearly no time at the ethical standpoint at the person. yet I did locate one sensible booklet on `moral values' that's a becoming supplement to the hot theoretical paintings on virtues. this is often the booklet mentioned above, through a latest French professor of philosophy on the Sorbonne. in accordance with the thumbnail biographical cartoon, this booklet has been translated into 19 languages and has been a bestseller in France.

My first actual reactions have been that the ebook was once now not a superficially saccharine remedy of the topic and that it did supply severe reflections at the virtues which trusted innovations 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 identify says `great virtues, I part anticipate finding the seven virtues of Catholic theology or `the seven heavenly virtues' which distinction the seven lethal sins. in its place, i locate eighteen, with way more congruence with Aristotle than with the church fathers. those eighteen, in a a little intuitive order, are:
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Politeness constancy Prudence Temperance
Courage Justice Generosity Compassion
Mercy Gratitude Humility Simplicity
Tolerance Purity Gentleness sturdy Faith
Humor Love

The perception of prudence can have been certainly one of Aristotle's maximum contributions to ethical philosophy. it's the estate which tempers the slavish devotion to principles to whatever which literally displays logic in life.

One irony of advantage ethics is that at the one hand, it really is obvious as a way to set up an ethical concept self sufficient of a trust in God, whereas it additionally appears to be like a more robust embodiment of the Christian ethics of the Gospels than the foundations established taking into consideration Kant or the `greatest solid for the best quantity' utilitarianism of Mill. those are either `Apollonian' types of ethics. with out checking my Nietzsche texts, i believe `virtue ethics' is a extra balanced mixture of the Apollonian with the Dionysian, grounded in instinct, emotion, a bit volatile, and with an appreciation of the chaotic.

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Leibniz does not dispute the point that a block of marble is more tightly bonded than a flock of sheep, but he does wish to draw out the troublesome consequences of the fact that any Cartesian body is composed of other bodies (Bennett 1984: 58). Now these bodies are themselves entities whose essence is constituted by extension; so they are in turn aggregates which are composed of bodies and so on ad infinitum; nowhere in the Cartesian theory of the physical world does one come to entities which are not themselves aggregates.

In Descartes’s austere metaphysics the universe is composed of two kinds of created substances: mind whose essence is thought, and body or matter whose essence is extension, the property of being spread out in three dimensions. We shall see in Chapter 4 that Leibniz is by no means uncritical of Descartes’s doctrine of mind or thinking substance, but it is Descartes’s account of extended substance which is the target of his special scorn. In the Discourse on Metaphysics and related writings Leibniz may be uncertain whether any body is a substance, but he is quite certain that body, as conceived by Descartes, does not fit the bill.

But it is interesting to note that occasionalists could easily have met this objection in the same spirit in which Arnauld responded to Leibniz’s earlier charge that Cartesian bodies, by virtue of lacking any internal principle of unity, could not be genuine substances. It would be natural for an occasionalist to respond that once again Leibniz is simply introducing a stipulative definition of ‘substance’; instead of defining it in the traditional manner as an ultimate subject of predication or that which is neither mode nor state, he is defining it as ‘that which is genuinely active’.

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