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"Eight Chapters" is an introduction to Maimonides' commentary on the Mishnaic treatise Pirke Avot. His response is to begin "Eight Chapters" by citing a rabbinic dictum according to which a person who wants to become pious should follow the advice set forth in Pirke Avot. Maimonides introduces the concept of the pious person (Hasid), saying that this person deviates from the mean. One of the distinguishing features of generally recognized opinions is that a couple of exceptions still leave a rule intact. Maimonides did not consider practical wisdom to be worthy of the name wisdom. As far as Maimonides is concerned, only truth fulfills the soul's quest for perfection. For Maimonides intellectualism and asceticism go hand in hand. Though Maimonides enlists Aristotle's support in denigrating the sense of touch, one would be hard pressed to find asceticism in Aristotle's writings.
In his 1930 foreword to Human Nature and Conduct, Dewey wrote: “In the eighteenth century, the word Morals was used in English literature with a meaning of broad sweep. It included all the subjects of distinctly humane import, all of the social disciplines as far as they are intimately connected with the life of man and as they bear upon the interests of humanity . . . Were it not for one consideration [this] volume might be said to be an essay in continuing the tradition of David Hume.” Dewey's contemporaries saw Hume as a skeptic whose moral inquiries were meant to explain away rather than explain our knowledge of moral values and principles. To Dewey, Hume's intent was instead to provide a new and improved grounding for moral knowledge and principles, by demonstrating that moral phenomena are natural phenomena, susceptible to methods of inquiry commensurate with those of the natural sciences. This for Dewey was the “inexpungable element of truth in his teachings.” Dewey, like Hume, was an ethical naturalist who believed that moral phenomena are natural phenomena. But unlike Hume and his twentieth-century successors, such as the emotivists Charles L. Stevenson and A. J. Ayer, Dewey was not a non-cognitivist.