By Lawrence C. Becker, Charlotte B. Becker
This newly revised and up to date version of A historical past of Western Ethics is a coherent and available evaluation of an important figures and influential principles of the historical past of ethics within the Western philosophical culture.
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Additional resources for A History of Western Ethics
But his immediate Academic predecessors, it seems, had already begun to regard the life and ethics of Socrates as the key to Platonism, in reaction against the scholarly exegesis of Plato practised by Speusippus and Xenocrates. For an adequate introduction to Epicureanism and Stoicism one needs to be aware of all the ethical alternatives that have just been outlined. Epicurus and Zeno, the founder of Stoicism, were familiar with the preceding tradition in ethics, though their knowledge of Aristotle may have been only cursory and they were a generation older than Arcesilaus.
480–524) represented a more straightforwardly philosophical tradition. Boethius never completed his vision of translating the Aristotelian corpus and that of Plato into Latin, but his Consolation of Philosophy rivaled Augustine’s Confessions as a guide to the moral life. God, Boethius argued, is true perfection and hence true goodness as well. Through providence God governs the world, grasping it all in an eternal present. Fate is the unfolding of this providential order in time. There is a temptation to think of God’s eternal knowledge as necessitating a fatalism which denies freedom of action and human responsibility, but this, Boethius argues, is a non sequitur.
LONG Stoicism, as a justification for traditional Roman values and as a critique of what he took to be their contemporary perversion. In his political conservatism he contrasts sharply with the Epicurean Lucretius. ) as an ethical savior for the Rome of his own day. ” Unlike an ambitious Roman father, however, Lucretius’s Epicurus undermines the rationale of competition and acquisitive values. Lucretius sees fear of death, which Epicurus had given reasons for removing, as the principal cause of “greed, and the blind passion for honors, which compel unhappy men to transgress the limits of law…and with exceeding effort to climb the pinnacle of power” (book 3, 59–63).
A History of Western Ethics by Lawrence C. Becker, Charlotte B. Becker