The Development of Ethics, Volume 1: From Socrates to the by Terence Irwin

By Terence Irwin

Terence Irwin offers a historic and significant examine of the improvement of ethical philosophy over thousand years, from old Greece to the Reformation. beginning with the seminal principles of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, he publications the reader in the course of the centuries that stick with, introducing all of the thinkers he discusses with beneficiant quotations from their works. He deals not just cautious interpretation yet serious evaluate of what they must supply philosophically. this can be the 1st of 3 volumes with the intention to research the heritage of ethics within the Socratic culture, as much as the overdue twentieth century.

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Once we know what promotes our own good, we will act on our knowledge. This knowledge of the good, which is also virtue, is sufficient for happiness. Socrates commits himself to three main paradoxes: (1) Knowledge of what is good for me is sufficient for action. (2) The virtues that promote my good are the moral virtues. (3) These virtues are sufficient for happiness. All of these Socratic paradoxes conflict with the prevalent outlook of modern moral philosophy. Sidgwick mentions the second Socratic paradox as the major division between ancient and modern outlooks.

Their inference is rash because Socrates is not asking for a description of virtuous actions, but looking for the virtue that underlies them. Though the interlocutors give the wrong sort of answers to his questions, Socrates does not dismiss their answers completely. He believes his interlocutors have reasonable beliefs that they can revise constructively, so as to approach a better account of virtue. His inquiries do not simply expose the ignorance of the interlocutors, but also make progress.

Socrates commits himself to three main paradoxes: (1) Knowledge of what is good for me is sufficient for action. (2) The virtues that promote my good are the moral virtues. (3) These virtues are sufficient for happiness. All of these Socratic paradoxes conflict with the prevalent outlook of modern moral philosophy. Sidgwick mentions the second Socratic paradox as the major division between ancient and modern outlooks. ⁵ As Sidgwick suggests, the reaction of ancient moralists to Socrates’ paradoxes is different from the reaction of modern moralists.

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