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Reason and CharacterThe Moral Foundations of Aristotelian Political Philosophy$
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Lorraine Smith Pangle

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226688169

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226688336.001.0001

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Reason and Purpose in the Moral Virtues

Reason and Purpose in the Moral Virtues

Chapter:
(p.103) Chapter 3 Reason and Purpose in the Moral Virtues
Source:
Reason and Character
Author(s):

Lorraine Smith Pangle

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226688336.003.0004

This chapter probes the role of reason in the particular virtues and the standard it looks to in defining them. Courage has a complex standard inasmuch as it embodies a mean with respect to both fear and confidence and involves both willingness to sacrifice what is good and a grasping of something supremely good. Moderation and liberality both display an impressive freedom from excessive concern with bodily pleasures and money and a fine sense of balance, yet the standard that determines the correct mean in each is elusive, and precise calculation proves inimical to the spirit of loving the noble for itself. In magnificence the concern for the noble or beautiful reaches a peak, but the noble comes to sight especially as that which befits something higher, not an activity that is simply for itself. The claim that moral virtue is just for itself makes an interesting last stand in greatness of soul, correctness with respect to honor and ambition, which combines an aspiration to self-sufficiency with a quest for objects worthy of one’s efforts. Considerations of the proper mean regarding friendliness, anger, shame, and wit show new complexities in reason’s role in guiding virtue.

Keywords:   ambition, anger, courage, greatness of soul, honor, liberality, magnificence, moderation, shame, wit

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