This exceptional book examines and explains Plato's answer to the normative question, "How ought we to live?" It discusses Plato's conception of the virtues; his views about the connection between the virtues and happiness; and the account of reason, desire, and motivation that underlies his arguments about the virtues. Plato's answer to the epistemological question, "How can we know how we ought to live?" is also discussed. His views on knowledge, belief, and inquiry, and his theory of Forms, are examined, (...) insofar as they are relevant to his ethical view. Terence Irwin traces the development of Plato's moral philosophy, from the Socratic dialogues to its fullest exposition in the Republic. Plato's Ethics discusses Plato's reasons for abandoning or modifying some aspects of Socratic ethics, and for believing that he preserves Socrates' essential insights. A brief and selective discussion of the Statesmen, Philebus, and Laws is included. Replacing Irwin's earlier Plato's Moral Theory (Oxford, 1977), this book gives a clearer and fuller account of the main questions and discusses some recent controversies in the interpretation of Plato's ethics. It does not presuppose any knowledge of Greek or any extensive knowledge of Plato. (shrink)
Exploring Aristotle's philosophical method and the merits of his conclusions, Irwin here shows how Aristotle defends dialectic against the objection that it cannot justify a metaphysical realist's claims. He focuses particularly on Aristotle's metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and ethics, stressing the connections between doctrines that are often discussed separately.
Terence Irwin presents a historical and critical study of the development of moral philosophy over two thousand years, from ancient Greece to the Reformation. Starting with the seminal ideas of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, he guides the reader through the centuries that follow, introducing each of the thinkers he discusses with generous quotations from their works. He offers not only careful interpretation but critical evaluation of what they have to offer philosophically. This is the first of three volumes which will (...) examine the history of ethics in the Socratic tradition, up to the late 20th century. (shrink)
Editor's IntroductionWhen Oxford University Press sent us the three enormous volumes of Irwin's The Development of Ethics, we had two thoughts: First, the book is very important and demands a review; second, since human sacrifice is abolished in North America, it will be very difficult to find a reviewer. We handed the volumes to several interested persons, who in the end returned the books saying the task was beyond them. Then, my wife, a lifetime worker at that center of communal (...) thought, the United Nations, suggested that we form a team to review the book. We put an announcement out on the Web, asking for reviewers to do a chapter each, at 250 words a review. We got several hundred volunteers, and chose 82 to review the 96 chapters of Irwin. We got 81 of 82 reviews, 75 before the deadline, six slightly later. For purposes of completeness, I filled in the sole missing review. Would that the students in my seminars were so punctual! I would like to thank Elyse Turr at Oxford University Press for the PDFs, and my 82 reviewers for their expertise and diligence. I am grateful to all the volunteers who showed an interest in this strange and perhaps unprecedented project, and who patiently endured the vetting process. Special thanks is due to Laura di Summa, who coordinated all the pieces of this incredible puzzle. Did we accomplish something, something new, by mobilizing 82 minds to review one book? I hope so, but I can now only say what they say on television: “America, it's up to you.”. (shrink)
Aristotle''s account of vice presents a puzzle: (1) Viciouspeople must be guided by reason, since they act on decision(prohairesis), not on their non-rational desires. (2) And yet theycannot be guided by reason, since they are said to pay attention totheir non-rational part and not to live in accordance with reason. Wecan understand the conception of vice the reconciles these two claims,once we examine Aristotle''s account of (a) the pursuit of the fine andof the expedient; (b) the connexion between vice and (...) the pursuit ofpleasure; (c) the particular kind of regret to which the vicious personis subject. (shrink)
This Oxford Reader seeks to introduce some of the main philosophical questions raised by the Greek and Roman philosophers of classical antiquity. Selections from the writings of ancient philosophers are interspersed with Terence Irwin's incisive commentary, and sometimes with contributions from modern philosophers expounding relevant philosophical positions or discussing particular aspects of classical philosophy. The arrangement of the book is thematic, rather than chronological, allowing the reader to focus on philosophical problems and ideas, but a general introduction places philosophers and (...) schools within their historical context. Irwin brings together contributions which shaped debates about knowledge, freedom, ethics, politics, and religious belief - debates which continue to be contested today, 2500 years from their conception. (shrink)
Covering over 1000 years of classical philosophy from Homer to Saint Augustine, this accessible, comprehensive study details the major philosophies and philosophers of the period--the Pre-Socratics, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Stoicism, Epicureanism, and Neoplatonism. Though the emphasis is on questions of philosophical interest, particularly ethics, the theory of knowledge, philosophy of mind, and philosophical theology, Irwin includes discussions of the literary and historical background to classical philosophy as well as the work of other important thinkers--Greek tragedians, historians, medical writers, and early (...) Christian writers. The most complete one-volume introduction to ancient philosophy available, the book will be an invaluable survey for students of philosophy and classics and general readers. (shrink)
Plato's Euthyrphro, Apology, andCrito portray Socrates' words and deeds during his trial for disbelieving in the Gods of Athens and corrupting the Athenian youth, and constitute a defense of the man Socrates and of his way of life, the philosophic life. The twelve essays in the volume, written by leading classical philosophers, investigate various aspects of these works of Plato, including the significance of Plato's characters, Socrates's revolutionary religious ideas, and the relationship between historical events and Plato's texts.
This is the second of three volumes which together comprise a selective historical and critical study of the development of moral philosophy. This volume covers ethics from the 16th to the 18th century, and features illuminating discussion of such great thinkers as Suarez, Grotius, Hobbes, Hutcheson, Hume, Reid, Butler, and Rousseau.
In 1977, Terence Irwin published Plato’s Moral Theory. This book, along with the work of Gregory Vlastos, has had a greater influence on the study of Plato’s ethics than anything published since. Although the present volume, Plato’s Ethics began as a second edition of PMT, it quickly became a “new book” in which none of PMT’s text reappears. Irwin declines to keep score of the specific differences between the two works and I cannot here provide a comprehensive comparison. I shall, (...) instead, discuss in broad outline PE’s position on one of PMT’s central themes and then turn to the details of one of PE’s new arguments. (shrink)
I hope to show how Plato’s doctrines in these dialogues are meant to resolve questions in moral theory, by contrasting the theory of recollection, and the theory of desire, with Socratic theories of moral knowledge and motivation. These views of Socrates are parts of his general conception of virtue and moral knowledge as a craft ; I will outline the doctrines which belong to this general conception, and suggest some reasons why one of these doctrines leads Socrates to another. First (...) I will point to an important conflict between the theory of recollection in the Meno and Socratic views on moral knowledge, and to a further conflict between the account of desire in the Symposium and Socratic views on motivation. We will find that these two points of conflict are connected, and that Plato connects them in the Phaedrus. My aim is to present a plausible way of understanding certain Platonic doctrines; in the space available here I cannot argue for all the claims I make, but I hope the general picture will seem interesting enough to deserve more detailed defense or refutation. (shrink)
Scotus believes it is clear that the pursuit of happiness is not psychologically supreme. If the will necessarily pursued happiness, it follows that whenever both x and y are open, x rather than y promotes happiness. But Scotus replies that sometimes we are aware that x rather than y promotes happiness, but we can simply choose to pursue neither x nor y. If we suspend further action, we choose to be indifferent toward happiness. Scotus agrees with Anselm's argument from responsibility. (...) In his view, the affection for justice is nobler than the affection for advantage, because it causes us to will something that is not directed toward ourselves. It manifests freedom in the will, because an agent who is capable of choosing the just rather than the advantageous is not necessitated by nature to pursue only his own advantage. (shrink)
The treatment of magnanimity in Aristotle's three ethical works gives us an opportunity to compare his different discussions, and his different treatments of common-sense views and various ideals of magnanimity. Comparison of the three Ethics suggests that the Nichomaechean Ethics provides the latest and best treatment of this virtue.
v. 1. Philosophy before Socrates -- v. 2. Socrates and his contemporaries -- v. 3. Plato's ethics -- v. 4. Plato's metaphysics and epistemology -- v. 5. Aristotle's ethics -- v. 6. Aristotle: substance, form, and matter -- v. 7. Aristotle: metaphysics, epistemology, natural philosophy -- v. 8. Hellenistic philosophy.
The Aristotelian Corpus contains two extended treatments of justice as a virtue of character: Magna Moralia i 33 and Nicomachean Ethics Book V. Differences between the two treatments include these: MM denies, but EN V affirms, that natural justice is part of political justice; MM denies, but EN V affirms, that general justice is an other-directed virtue that should concern us in the treatment of justice as a virtue; MM does not discuss the relation between equity and justice, while EN (...) V affirms that equity and justice do not conflict. Are these differences connected? How are they to be explained? Might they help us to answer questions about the relation of MM to the other two ethical treatises, and the relation of EN V to the EE and to the EN? (shrink)