Cognition of Value in Aristotle's Ethics: Promise of Enrichment, Threat of Destruction (SUNY Series in Ancient Greek Philosophy)

Cognition of Value in Aristotle's Ethics: Promise of Enrichment, Threat of Destruction (SUNY Series in Ancient Greek Philosophy)

Deborah Achtenberg

Language: English

Pages: 232

ISBN: 0791453723

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

With this new interpretation, Deborah Achtenberg argues that metaphysics is central to ethics for Aristotle and that the ethics can be read on two levels imprecisely, in terms of its own dialectically grounded and imprecise claims, or in terms of the metaphysical terms and concepts that give the ethics greater articulation and depth. She argues that concepts of value the good and the beautiful are central to ethics for Aristotle and that they can be understood in terms of telos where telos can be construed to mean enriching limitation and contrasted with harmful or destructive limitation. Achtenberg argues that the imprecision of ethics for Aristotle results not simply from the fact that ethics has to do with particulars, but more centrally from the fact that it has to do with the value of particulars. She presents new interpretations of a wide variety of passages in Aristotle s metaphysical, physical, psychological, rhetorical, political, and ethical works in support of her argument and compares Aristotle s views to those of Plato, Marcus Aurelius, the Hebrew Bible, Hobbes, Rousseau, Kant, Freud, and twentieth-century object relations theorists. Achtenberg also responds to interpretations of Aristotle s ethics by McDowell, Nussbaum, Sherman, Salkever, Williams, Annas, Irwin, Roche, Gomez-Lobo, Burnyeat, and Anagnostopoulos."

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truth coarsely and in outline. Second, when speaking about things that are ‘for the most part’ (e.g., courage or wealth, since they are good only ‘for the most part’) or from premises about things that are ‘for the most part’, our conclusions will only be ‘for the most part’ as well. We can expect, then, that Aristotle’s political inquiries (including inquiries into ethical topics) will have a coarse or outline quality and that they will include ‘for the most part’ conclusions—including

this is the case, the result is an increase in the predominant ingredient as a result of the nondominant ingredient changing into the predominant one. Aristotle’s example is a single drop of wine in ten thousand measures of water. The drop of wine does not mix with the water but instead changes form and becomes part of the whole volume of water. Aristotle rejects the third option, that both the ingredients come together so that each of them is destroyed. Still, he makes use of an aspect of it, as

has to be discovered by perception, but a perception based on experience” (1984, 233–234). Just as Wittgenstein pointed out that we learn how a number series goes on only by saying that the rest of the series will be like what has gone on before, that is, by learning from experience what our practice of counting such a series is, so we must learn from experience what our moral practice is (1984, 234). In ethics, according to Dahl, universal principles cannot be given content independently of

and its beauty are somehow one, we could say—by which I mean to imply that, for Aristotle, they are also somehow two. A being and its beauty for Aristotle are as one as any two beings can be. Their unity is the paradigm unity of composed beings, namely, the somehow unity of potentiality and actuality. At the same time, we can say that, for Aristotle, beauty raises matter or elements to a higher level. Beauty is a principle of increase: by virtue of beauty, matter is something, and not pure stuff;

reducible to their parts. CHAPTER SIX Emotions as Perceptions of Value I have now given several positive arguments which, cumulatively, make a case for the claim that, according to Aristotle, the cognitive component of ethical virtue is the cognition of value where value can be understood as ‘enriching relatedness’ and shows up in analogous but unexpectedly different ways in different situations. What about the cognitive component of emotion for Aristotle? Is it cognition of value as well? It

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