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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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Problems of Self-Control

Problems of Self-Control

(p.231) Chapter 6 Problems of Self-Control
Reason and Character

Lorraine Smith Pangle

University of Chicago Press

In Ethics 7.1-10 Aristotle takes up the Socratic claim that knowledge is sovereign and never is dragged around like a slave. First charging that this view contradicts the phenomena, Aristotle in fact proceeds to show how the opinions that are disregarded in akrasia or lapses of self-control amount to less than full knowledge, and further that the passions that defeat them carry with them implicit and momentarily more persuasive opinions about what is best. Thought is not defeated by simple pleasure or passion, then, but rather one closely related passion-opinion pair is defeated by another. Since the healthy desires and judgments that should animate correct choices are weak when virtue is absent, self-control requires the help of other desires, such as the love of honor and anger, in themselves problematic but often useful in their effects: Aristotle is thus gentle on these lapses. The treatment of morbid vice uncovers ways in which all true vice is unhealthy. Most human failings are rooted in softness or a lack of steadfastness but above all in a lack of clear insight into the human good.

Keywords:   akrasia, anger, lack of self-control, pleasure, self-control, steadfastness

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