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Confronting Aristotle's EthicsAncient and Modern Morality$
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Eugene Garver

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780226283982

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226284019.001.0001

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Aristotle's Ethical Virtues Are Political Virtues

Aristotle's Ethical Virtues Are Political Virtues

(p.124) Chapter 5 Aristotle's Ethical Virtues Are Political Virtues
Confronting Aristotle's Ethics
University of Chicago Press

Hand in hand with the separations of reason from emotion and rationality from goodness goes the modern separation of the ethical from the political, which makes politics a matter of amoral cleverness and cunning, and the corresponding morality apolitical and, usually, sentimental. As long as ethics is apolitical, it will be hard to integrate goodness and intelligence. Aristotle's moral life, instead, is a political life, a life led by citizens carrying out civic activities. Aristotle's relation between ethics and politics differs so strongly from ours that it is hard to keep in mind how political the Ethics is. Virtue consists in doing for their own sake things that are first worth doing because of their results, but these initial results must be defined in and by the polis. Similarly, virtue brings the soul into good condition. The particular ethical virtues bring the entire desiring soul into good condition only if the souls realized in the virtues are the souls of citizens. The given external goods that are the starting points of deliberation are the goods of political practices. The souls whose good functioning are the virtues are the souls of citizens.

Keywords:   politics, ethics, goodness, intelligence, Aristotle, moral life

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