L’action morale chez Aristote [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 56 (4):888-888 (2003)

In this monograph Pavlos Kontos of the University of Patras in Greece develops a phenomenology of human actions against the background of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. The first part of his study is centered around the question of the autonomy of the moral act, which results from the role Aristotle assigns to the virtue of prudence. Prudence shows us what is morally possible or feasible; an ethics based on prudence does not crush man under the burden of what is far above him as the moral systems of Kant and Christianity tend to do. In Aristotle’s ethics, human actions are not subordinated to a rule which is entirely fixed and determined. Principles in ethics are not the universal propositions of the major premise of a moral syllogism but the conditions under which a prakton exists. They are the manner in which prudence perceives its object as belonging to the moral order. At this point the author refers to the various Abschattungen, appraisals of what has to be done in view of one’s personal momentary situation and of the circumstances. In the deliberations of prudence the quest for happiness enters, which Kontos understands as a successful action. Happiness is not a supplement to actions but is present in good actions all through one’s life. The prakton is the way in which one must organize the world.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
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