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Chapter 5 - Peripatetics on Vicious Humans and Caged Animals

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 April 2023

David Machek
Affiliation:
Universität Bern, Switzerland
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Summary

In the Aristotelian ethics after Aristotle, there are two major discussions of the conditions for a worthwhile life found in a Peripatetic doxography preserved by Stobaeus and in an Academic theory of Antiochus Ascalon, heavily inspired by Peripatetic views, reported in Book 5 of Cicero’s On Ends. We see in these texts a tendency, under the influence of anti-Stoic polemic, towards a greater explicitness but also a radicalisation of some views about the life worth living that go back to Aristotle’s own ethical works. The tendency to explicitness can be exemplified by the introduction of the notion of an ‘intermediate life’, that is, a life that is not happy but still worth living. The most striking example of radicalisation is the claim that irreparably vicious humans not only do not have a life not worth living, but that they should hasten to die. The chapter also contains a discussion of an account of the value of life by Alexander Aphrodisias, which in interesting ways develops and qualifies Aristole’s view that mere living in itself is non-instrumentally valuable.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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