The Chapter 11 treatment of Aristotle s view of the dialectic between luck and rationality is very good and also relevant The eudiamon life does require the resources that come to those with good fortune At the same time planning and control, driven by rationality, are also required If you are not experiencing eudaimonia it could be that one or both factors are missing Too much luck can blind one to what a significant factor it is.
There is clear recognition of the extent to which our ontology effects our epistemology just as in Chapter 9 we saw that our deep beliefs about voluntary action made it unlikely that we would ever discover that there was no such thing p 321.
There have been times in my life when, after totally hosing up, I have realized that I had three choices 1 deny what happened 2 acknowledge what happened, but claim that it was O.
K or 3 acknowledge how completely wrong failed self indulgent delusional etc I had been and been and try to be better 1 and 2 are a form of death if you make those choices, something goes on but it is no longer the same you The discussion around p 366 and p 367 articulates this much better than I ever could.
Appreciating the ancients does require that retrodiction p 370, etc win out over presentism to ask if Aristotle was misogynistic is very much that same as asking if President Lincoln was racist Professor Nussbaum does very well in addressing this p 371.
Chapter 13, on Euripides Hecuba is wonderfully relevant for this evening s discussion of Benito Cereno by Herman Melville.
It would be better if I was less desultory there were too many interruptions in getting through this.
The nineteenth book I have finished this year.
Preface p xvi A major theme in Fragility, as I have suggested, was the role of the emotions in informing us about matters of ethical significancechokengtitiktitikchokeng xx Aristotle s views about women do not repay serious scrutiny, even as falsehoodschokengtitiktitikchokeng xx For the Stoics, by contrast, the bare possession of the capacity for moral choice gives us all a boundless and and equal dignitychokengtitiktitikchokeng xxiv By now, it is no longer true that Kantianism and Utilitarianism are the two dominant ethical approaches Most introduction to the subject would not mention the virtue ethics approach as a third major paradigmchokengtitiktitikchokeng xxx xxxi But surely Cicero is correct when he observes that the person who does not active wrong cannot take credit for justice, if what he has done is to sit by idle when he could be helping human being who have been assaulted or harmedchokengtitiktitikchokeng xxxii Job is right to renounce his attempt to accuse God of wrongdoing, and to accept the inscrutable mysteriousness of His actionschokengtitiktitikchokeng xxxvii As Philoctetes knew, pity means action intervention on behalf of the suffering, even if it is difficult and repellent If you leave out the action, you are an ignoble coward, perhaps also a hypocrite and a liar If you help, you have done something fine.
1 Luck and ethics p 3 This book will be an examination of the aspiration to rational self sufficiency in Greek ethical thoughtchokengtitiktitikchokeng 7 For our bodily and sensuous nature, our passions, our sexuality, all server as powerful links to the world of risk and mutability Further, these irrational attachments import, than many others, a risk of practical conflict and so of contingent failure in virtuechokengtitiktitikchokeng 11 But Plato He argues, first, that only a very few people are in a position to engage in serious ethical reflection and choice the others should simple be told what to do.
Part I Tragedy fragility and ambition2 Aeschylus and practical conflict p 25 Tragedy also, however shows something deeply disturbing its hows good people doing bad things, things otherwise repugnant to their ethical character and commitments, because of circumstances whose origin does not lie with themchokengtitiktitikchokeng 33 If we think of the omen as pointing towards the war crimes of the Greeks, we are reminded of the way in which circumstances of war can alter and erode the normal conventions of human behavior towards other humans, rendering them, in their indifference to the slain, either bestial or like killers of beastschokengtitiktitikchokeng 37 The ceremony of animal sacrifice, from which Greek tragedy, in Burkert s view, derives its name, expressed the awe and fear felt by this human community towards its own murderous possibilitieschokengtitiktitikchokeng 45 Now I shall change my life to a better one than before p 49 Aeschylus, then, shows us not so much a solution to the problem of practical conflict as the richness and depth of the problem itself.
3 Sophocles Antigone conflict, vision, and simplification p 54 the pursuit of honor may require an injury to friendshipchokengtitiktitikchokeng 69 style of the major ethical thinker of the half century preceding this play, that it, to the style of Heraclituschokengtitiktitikchokeng 75 It suggests that the richer our scheme of values, the harder it will prove to effect harmony within it.
tucheWeb definitionsGreek word for fortune What happens to an individual in their day to day affairs, as with the lot or part of fortune.
Part II Plato goodness without fragility 4 The Protagoras a science of practical reasoning p 90 The need of human beings for philosophy is, for him, deeply connected with their exposure to luck the elimination of this exposure is a primary task of the philosophical art as he conceives it.
bucephalusWeb definitionsBucephalus or Bucephalas was Alexander the Great s horse and one of the most famous actual horses of antiquity Ancient accounts state that Bucephalus died after the Battle of the Hydaspes in 326 BC, in what is now modern Pakistan, and is buried in Jalalpur Sharif outside of Jhelum, Pakistan http en.
org wiki Bucephalusp 101 What they lack are laws, civic education, the institution of punishmentchokengtitiktitikchokeng 103 the implication is that moral training promotes healthy and natural growth, attacking problems which, left unattended, would blight the child s full natural developmentchokengtitiktitikchokeng 109 what we badly want is peace and quiet.
Eudoxus of Cniduswww.
edu dallen history eud p 117 In short, I claim that Socrates offers us, in the guise of empirical description, a radical proposal for the transformation of our liveschokengtitiktitikchokeng 119 For it shows us an apparently insoluble tension between our intuitive attachment to a plurality of values and our ambition to be in control of our planning through a deliberative techne p 122 Interlude 1 Plato s anti tragic theaterp 124 in the fifth and early fourth centuries, it was the poets who were regarded as the most important ethical teacherschokengtitiktitikchokeng 128 He lacked both dedication and humility and these features of his character were displayed as defects that left him ill prepared for the activity of self scrutiny.
elenchosWeb definitionsSocratic method, named after the classical Greek philosopher Socrates, is a form of inquiry and discussion between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to illuminate ideas http en.
org wiki Elenchosp 134 By themselves, without a grasp of the general form, particulars cannot be objects of insight.
5 The Republic true value and the standpoint of perfection p 137 Too infirm to walk easily in the city, his bodily desires dimmed by advancing years, he lacks many of the younger men s distractions he finds his love of argument correspondingly increased 328 C D chokengtitiktitikchokeng 138 The Republic argues that the best life for a human being is the life of the philosopher, a life devoted to learning and the contemplation of truthchokengtitiktitikchokeng 147 But the central example of pure of genuine enjoying is the intellectual activity of the philosopher We should never lose sight of the importance of mathematical reasoning and contemplation for Plato as central case of these pursuits p 149 WE can see how the belief that there is a stable truth there to be known in nature, apart from the changing circumstances of human life, would lend force to a Platonic account of activity value We can see, too, how a belief in eternal, non context dependent paradigmatic objects wold tend to support his belief that contemplative activity is maximally stable, unvarying, and context independentchokengtitiktitikchokeng 150 for where there is no deficiency of in either power or knowledge, there is no room, conceptually, for hopechokengtitiktitikchokeng 152 In the Phaedo we see, similarly, that Socrates is confident that everything that is him will survive, unscathed, the death of the body 115 C E and its desireschokengtitiktitikchokeng 157 It is a long and difficult matter to learn to detach ourselves from our human needs and interests, or to get to a point at which we can do so at will.
This sounds very much like Nirvana 6 The speech of Alcibiades a reading of the Symposium p 166 His story is, in the end, a story of waste and loss, of the failure of practical reason to shape a lifechokengtitiktitikchokeng 168 our need to grope for understanding this central element of our live through hearing and telling storieschokengtitiktitikchokeng 172 We were once, he tells us, perfect and self sufficient physical beingschokengtitiktitikchokeng 176 We turn now to the speech that attempts to restructure that world, making it safe for practical reason p 183 But the correct interpretation seems to be that Socrates has so dissociated himself from his body that he genuinely does not feel its pain, or regard its sufferings as things genuinely happening to him We are invited, instead, to look for the explanation in his psychological distance from the world and from his body as an object in that worldchokengtitiktitikchokeng 192 the Platonic picture of the soul is not so much a scientific fact as an ethical ideal, some thing to b chosen and achievedchokengtitiktitikchokeng 194 A self critical perception of one s cracks and holes, which issues naturally in comic poetry, is an important part of what we value in Alcibiades and want to salvage in ourselves So it seems not accidental that Dionysus, god of tragic loss, should stand for both p 198 The Symposium now seems to us a harsh and alarming book 7 This story isn t true madness, reason, and recantation in the Phaedrus p 201 Erotic relationships of long duration between particular individuals who see each other as such are argued to be fundamental to psychological development and an important component of the best human lifechokengtitiktitikchokeng 203 The Phaedrus, I shall argue, is this apologia p 205 as if, among the parts of oneself, only the logistikon is the author of genuinely voluntary actions, while the other elements are unselective causal forces.
This was one of the free will issues in Phil 270, as though my appetites are not part of mechokengtitiktitikchokeng 215 Sense and emotion are guides towards the good and indices of its presence Is this British sentimentalism p 218 The focus on character takes away much of love s replaceability the focus on history removes the restchokengtitiktitikchokeng 220 Plato s myth reveals that the complete devine wisdom is, for human being, permanently unavailablechokengtitiktitikchokeng 221 222 niggardly chokengtitiktitikchokeng 226 The really significant point, however, is that philosophy is now permitted to be an inspired, manic, Muse loving activitychokengtitiktitikchokeng 231 It would not be fanciful to see Plato as expressing, both in the Republic s denunciation and in this praise, his complex attitude towards the passive and receptive aspects of his own sexuality, aspects which, for a proud Greek gentleman of his time, could not have been easy to acceptchokengtitiktitikchokeng 232 that he has found what eluded his teacher, a fusion of clarity and passion.
Part III Aristotle the fragility of the good human life 8 Saving Aristotle s appearances p 241 Philosophy begins when we acknowledge the possibility that the way we pre pre philosophically see the world might be radically in errorchokengtitiktitikchokeng 248 Very rarely is truth a matter of majority vote Metaph 1009b2 p 249 250 This is so because our practices and our language embody a reliance on such experts, frequently making their judgments constitutive of truthchokengtitiktitikchokeng 258 The Platonist encourages us to neglect this work by giving us the idea that philosophy is a worthwhile enterprise only if it takes us away from the cave and up into the sunlightchokengtitiktitikchokeng 260 much as friends who have become strangers or enemies need a mediator to effect a reconciliation.
9 Rational animals and the explanation of action p 273 And in fact we are by now aware that the Plato of the Phaedo and the Republic is willing, even eager, to pay this price.
orexisWeb definitionsThe affective and conative character of mental activity as contrasted with its cognitive aspect the appetitive aspect of an act desire, appetitehttp en.
org wiki orexisp 276 Moving is seen to be intrinsically connect with a lack of self sufficiency or completeness, and with the inner movement towards the world with which needy creatures are fortunately endowed.
The Identity of IndiscerniblesFirst published Wed Jul 31, 1996 substantive revision Sun Aug 15, 2010This is often referred to as Leibniz s Law and is typically understood to mean that no two objects have exactly the same propertieschokengtitiktitikchokeng 281 The central point is that, however it is to be construed, the physiological feature are not causes of the animal s movement any than Polyclitus s having kidneys is the cause of his sculpting the statuechokengtitiktitikchokeng 282 actions performed under external physical constraint.
See Harry Frankfurtchokengtitiktitikchokeng 286 The intentional selectivity of appetite shows us how it can be engaged for positive support in the search for the good.
The argument at the bottom of p 287 and top of p 288 seems, to me, to fail to address the challenge of our perception of free will vs its purported reality i.
e I act, then form the impression that I willed the action.
10 Non scientific deliberation Aristotle on the truth vs people on p 292.
There is what can be taken as a critique of military standards, and standards in general, on p 301 304 Still chokengtitiktitikchokeng 302 These three features are mutability, indeterminacy, particularitychokengtitiktitikchokeng 306 Aristotle insists that a person s character and value commitments are what that person is in and of himself personal continuity requires a high degree, at least, of continuity in the general nature of these commitmentschokengtitiktitikchokeng 308 If I do generous acts, but only with constant effort, strain, and reluctance, I am not really acting generously I am not worthy of the same commendation as the person who enjoys his generosity and does the action with his whole heart.
11 The vulnerability of the good human life activity and disaster p 319 All of this will put us in a position to appreciate the importance that Aristotle attaches to tragic poetry as a source of moral learning and draw some conclusions abut the relationship between Aristotelian philosophizing and tragedy.
I have to take the top of p 323 as offering far support for the emergence of Stoicism than for Epicureanism.
Aristotle s view of the elderly and their loss of virtue, on p 338 339, resonates with what I am experiencing.
12 The vulnerability of the good human life relational goods The p 346 discussion, of Aristotle s view of, family and education, make it pellucid that both are required for proper developmentchokengtitiktitikchokeng 347 To value a public scheme of education is to value something both vulnerable and difficult to realizechokengtitiktitikchokeng 348 For these reasons, Aristotle argues that no person who has the natural capacity for practical reason should be held in slaverychokengtitiktitikchokeng 353 Plato attempted to eliminate, as grounds of conflict, both private property and the exclusiveness of sexual relations.
The bottom of p 355 touches on Aristotle s classification of friendships.
Love on p 368 370.
Appendix to Part III human and divine Interlude 2 luck and the tragic emotions p 378 They are the the relationship between tragic action and tragic character, and the nature and value of the tragic emotionschokengtitiktitikchokeng 381 For if the good person is, as Republic III 388 insists, altogether self sufficient, that is, in need of nothing from without to complete the value and goodness of his life cf Ch 7 IV, Ch 5 IV , then, first of all, tragic action becomes irrelevant to our search for good human livingchokengtitiktitikchokeng 385 In the Phaedo, which is a clear case of Platonic anti tragedy, there is repeated stress on the fact that Socrates predicament is not an occasion for pitychokengtitiktitikchokeng 386 Plato s argument, repeatedly, is the correct beliefs about what is and is not important in human life remove our reasons for fear.
13 The betrayal of convention a reading of Euripides Hecuba This esp p 405 is a wonderfully timely section for this evenings discussion of Benito Cereno by Herman Melville.
read this and reviews of other classics in Western Philosophy on the History page of www.
org a thinkPhilosophy Production There is this conundrum in moral philosophy that, even if you cultivate a good character and act always intent on doing the right thing, fate may intervene to throw some bad luck your way so that, what had been a good life begins to look like a terrible life In short, doing the right thing is no guarantee that one will be rewarded with a good or easy life It may even be argued that the opposite is true In a corrupt world, doing the right and moral thing will often comes with some negative consequences But this is not the topic of this book In The Fragility of Goodness Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy, Martha Nussbaum examines the problem that luck and fate pose in Ancient Greek philosophy and literature The Greeks were fascinated with fate and devoted much thought to the topic, thought that is today unsurpassed Nussbaum takes up the Ancient texts in order the address this question anew from a contemporary perspective, with wonderful results As has been written elsewhere, her writing combines the rigor of scholarship with the imagination necessary to grapple with this issue as it emerges in contemporary life Rejecting Socrates and Plato s teaching on the subject, Nussbaum argues that indeed, a life that flourishes through the practice of virtue can come to end up a terrible life due to circumstances beyond a person s control The bottom line is that being and doing good is no guarantee of a good life But is the reverse true Can a wicked, vicious person inadvertently enjoy a good life You will have to read Nussbaum to learn.
Nussbaum has been quite prolific and has written a number fantastic and well received works, including the collection of essaysLove Knowledge Essays on Philosophy and Literature ,Upheavals of Thought The Intelligence of Emotions , andNot For Profit Why Democracy Needs the HumanitiesFinally, readers who enjoy Nussbaum s work will also want to pick up her most recent work,Political Emotions Why Love Matters for JusticeRead this and reviews of other classics in Western Philosophy on the History page of www.
org a thinkPhilosophy Production.
Una de esas obras preciosas, de una belleza y calidad que se encuentran pocas veces en una vida.
A few lines of thought expressed in this book have stuck with me First, Nussbaum breathes new life in the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides She makes the compelling case that plays like Antigone, Agamemnon, the Seven against Thebes were not merely pieces of drama, produced for the amusement of the Athenian public, but were in fact also permeated by evaluations and conceptions of the good life From the predicaments Agamemnon and Creon finds themselves in, there is much to learn about how to act in the face of adversity and misfortune Moreover, while today we are quick to banish poets and dramaturgists to the fringes of society as a group of weltfremde bohemians, in the 5th and 4th centuries BC, the poets played a central role in ethical thought and, what is , they were taken very seriously by the likes of Plato and Socrates as rival thinkers and educators In the Apology and the Republic for instance, poets and dramaturgists are often the object of sharp condemnation A second refreshing observation by Nussbaum centers on Plato and aims at a tension between his hardline, intellectualist views on the attainment of the Good in the Republic and the Symposium on the one hand, and his nuanced, impassioned and eros inspired views in the Phaedrus My personal preference and, I am inclined to think, Nussbaum s as well lies with the latter Plato, as here, Plato gives a human and this worldly conception of the Good Life, which also happens to sit easier with the account of Aristotelian ethics that follows Speaking of Aristotle, thirdly, it is clear that his is considered as the most accurate and truthful account of the Good Life Although the intellectualist Plato, and to a lesser extent, the Plato of Phaedrus, still fall short of accounting for the impact of luck on a Good Life, Aristotle makes the mature observation that without risk, external factors beyond one s control, and external goods most prominenty, friends and philia , many virtues are simply not attainable Incidentally, Nussbaum takes great care to stress that eudaimonia is in essence found in activity, not in a state of being It is not enough to be good, as the athlete is only cheered for when racing and not for what he is capable of on the sidelines, the good person must actually do good, in order to achieve real good livING There is no courage or resilience without adversity, no generosity without riches, no philia without trust and a certain openness to the world, and no political activity without a polis Eudaimonia then, is, contrary to the Plato of the Republic and Symposium who pleaded for the Good Life as a life in solitary contemplation rid of all passions and appetites, vulnerable To be sure, Aristotle stresses that the virtuous, while vulnerable to luck, need not and ordinarily will not be overcome by it.
Lucid and beautiful about Antigone It is also a play about teaching and learning, about changing one s vision of the world, about losing one s grip on what looked like secure truth and learning a elusive kind of wisdom 52.
if activities are the main thing in life, as we said, nobody who is makarios will ever become basely wretched For he will never engage in hateful and base actions We think that the really good and reasonable person will bear his luck with dignity and always do the finest thing possible given the circumstances, just as the good general will make the most warlike use of the army he has and the good shoemaker will make the best shoe he can out of the hide he is given and so on for all craftsmen If this is right, then the eudaimon person would never become basely wretched nonetheless, he will still not be makarios, if he encounters the luck of Priam Nor indeed is he variable and easily changed, for he will not be easily dislodged from his eudaimonia, nor by just any misfortune that happens his way, but only by big and numerous misfortunes and out of these he will not become eudaimonia again in a short time, but, if ever, in a long and complete time, if, in that time, he gets hold of big and fine things.
I ve only read Ch 8 Saving Aristotle s appearances, but the book is worth checking out for that chapter alone She does an excellent job of describing and justifying Aristotle s ordinary language method of philosophizing and distinguishing him from Wittgenstein.
This Book Is A Study Of Ancient Views About Moral Luck It Examines The Fundamental Ethical Problem That Many Of The Valued Constituents Of A Well Lived Life Are Vulnerable To Factors Outside A Person S Control, And Asks How This Affects Our Appraisal Of Persons And Their Lives The Greeks Made A Profound Contribution To These Questions, Yet Neither The Problems Nor The Greek Views Of Them Have Received The Attention They Deserve This Updated Edition Contains A New Preface