Ancient Ethics by Susan Suave Meyer

By Susan Suave Meyer

This is often the 1st entire consultant and simply massive undergraduate point advent to historic Greek ethics, protecting the moral theories of all of the significant philosophers (including Socrates, Plato, Aristotle) and colleges (Stoics, Skeptics, Epicureans, Pyrrhonism) from the earliest occasions to the Hellenistic philosophers reading their major arguments and assessing their legacy.

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The same goes for ethical truths. Dialectic aims at grasping the bases of the norms that paideia has inculcated into one’s ethical sensibility (538c). 97 Inquiry into the grounds of ethical claims, Socrates says in the Republic, is dangerous if engaged in at too young an age (Rep. 539a–c; cf. Laws 634e). Without a firm and stable commitment to the ethical truths under examination, and without proficiency at dialectic (as practised in geometry, astronomy, and the other intellectual disciplines of the philosophical curriculum), frustration at the difficulty of finding the rationale behind such common precepts of justice as ‘return what you’ve borrowed’ or ‘keep your promises’ can lead to doubt of the precepts themselves.

Recall that Socrates’ arguments are addressed to those who take it for granted that such things as health and wealth are what make one happy (Euthd.

Plato’s answer to that challenge, by contrast, takes the perspective of the statesman (politikos) who is concerned with the welfare of the citizens and with the success and longevity of the polis itself. 80 His goal is to articulate and defend a conception of excellence that is civic and political – one that can be inculcated in the citizens of a polis collectively, and that can be perpetuated stably across generations. On such a conception of political excellence, a person’s competence to take on a leadership role in politics is to be judged by how firmly and unwaveringly he is loyal to the common project of the polis (412d–e).

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