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Chapter 10 - The end of ends? Aristotelian themes in early modern ethics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 February 2013

Jon Miller
Affiliation:
Queen's University, Ontario
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Summary

The early moderns' relation to Aristotle's practical philosophy, and especially his ethics, has received much less attention in the literature, and suffers less from the weight of received opinion. The prevailing tendency of recent work on early modern ethics stresses the significance of newly revived Hellenistic doctrines, especially Stoic and Epicurean ones, for the views of such thinkers as Gassendi, Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, and Leibniz. Most major figures of seventeenth-century philosophy remain eudaimonists in the formal sense that they regard happiness as a deliberative end of practical reason. Among seventeenth-century philosophers, there is near universal agreement that happiness is to be understood in psychological terms. The notion of teleology, or end-directed activity, informs Aristotle's ethics in two ways: as a feature of the structure of practical reason, and as the basis of the function argument by which he deems the human good to be rational activity in conformity with virtue.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2012

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