Many aestheticians and ethicists are interested in the similarities and connections between aesthetics and ethics (Nussbaum 1990; Foot 2002; Gaut 2007). One way in which some have suggested the two domains are different is that in ethics there exist obligations while in aesthetics there do not (Hampshire 1954). However, Marcia Muelder Eaton has argued that there is good reason to think that aesthetic obligations do exist (Eaton 2008). We will explore the nature of these obligations by asking whether acts of (...) aesthetic supererogation (acts that go beyond the call of our aesthetic obligations) are possible. In this paper, we defend the thesis that there is good reason to think such acts exist. (shrink)
This paper defends two claims. First, we will argue for the existence of aesthetic demands in the realm of everyday aesthetics, and that these demands are not reducible to moral demands. Second, we will argue that we must recognise the limits of these demands in order to combat a widespread form of gendered oppression. The concept of aesthetic supererogation offers a new structural framework to understand both the pernicious nature of this oppression and what may be done to mitigate it.
The role of emotions in mental life is the subject of longstanding controversy, spanning the history of ethics, moral psychology, and educational theory. This paper defends an account of love’s cognitive power. My starting point is Plato’s dialogue, the Symposium, in which we find the surprising claim that love aims at engendering moral virtue. I argue that this understanding affords love a crucial place in educational curricula, as engaging the emotions can motivate both cognitive achievement and moral development. I first (...) outline the state of the challenge between dominant rival theories regarding emotions in learning. Next, I demonstrate how Platonic virtue ethics offers the most tenable prospect for an education of reason and emotion. Third, I sketch three practical ways educators might constructively engage emotions in the classroom. I conclude that love’s virtue is its peerless power to motivate the creative and lateral thinking which leads to moral development. (shrink)
In his dialogues, Plato presents different ways in which to understand the relation between Forms and particulars. In the Symposium, we are presented with yet another, hitherto unidentified Form-particular relation: the relation is Love (Erôs), which binds together Form and particular in a generative manner, fulfilling all the metaphysical requirements of the individual’s qualification by participation. Love in relation to the beautiful motivates human action to desire for knowledge of the Form, resulting in the lover actively cultivating and bringing into (...) being new beauty in the world, and in herself. Chapters 1 and 2 of this thesis offer a survey of the arguments and examples Plato puts forward in the text of the corpus regarding the nature of Forms and the nature of participation, alongside a framework of the traditional interpretations of these two Platonic concepts in the literature. Chapter 3 turns to a close examination of Erôs in the Symposium, arguing that the love Plato presents in this dialogue is of a different sort than appetitive emotion. It is an aesthetic and intellectual attraction, capable of stimulating cognitive achievement. Erôs, however, does not stop there. The lover is led not only to contemplation of beauty, but to the generation of beauty, which is the subject of Chapter 4. The emotive-turn-to-cognitive relation of Erôs, I argue, is the clearest picture Plato paints of how possession of properties can be explained through participation in Forms. Erôs leads the lover to produce beauty in the world and in the soul, which explains how love in relation to the beautiful can lead to becoming beautiful. The object of love is the generation of beauty, the mortal mechanism of participation in the Form by which the lover herself becomes beautiful. Finally, Chapter 5 focusses on beauty itself and its role in moral education. Beauty, for Plato, is required for creative generation and can be understood as a uniquely powerful virtue of soul. (shrink)
This paper defends an account of how erotic love works to develop virtue. It is argued that love drives moral development by holding the creation of virtue in the individual as the emotion’s intentional object. After analyzing the distinction between passive and active accounts of the object of love, this paper demonstrates that a Platonic virtue-ethical understanding of erotic love—far from being consumed with ascetic contemplation—offers a positive treatment of emotion’s role in the attainment and social practice of virtue.