Aristotle on Shame and Learning to Be Good

Aristotle on Shame and Learning to Be Good

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Marta Jimenez presents a novel interpretation of Aristotle's account of the role of shame in moral development. Despite shame's bad reputation as a potential obstacle to the development of moral autonomy, Jimenez argues that shame is for Aristotle the proto-virtue of those learning to be good, since it is the emotion that equips them with the seeds of virtue. Other emotions such as friendliness, righteous indignation, emulation, hope, and even spiritedness may play
important roles on the road to virtue. However, shame is the only one that Aristotle repeatedly associates with moral progress. The reason is that shame can move young agents to perform good actions and avoid bad ones in ways that appropriately resemble not only the external behavior but also the
orientation and receptivity to moral value characteristic of virtuous people.

Through an analysis of the different cases of pseudo-courage and the passages on shame in Aristotle's ethical treatises, Jimenez argues that shame places young people on the path to becoming good by turning their attention to considerations about the perceived nobility and praiseworthiness of their own actions and character. Although they are not yet virtuous, learners with a sense of shame can appreciate the value of the noble and guide their actions by a genuine interest in doing the right
thing. Shame, thus, enables learners to perform virtuous actions in the right way before they possess practical wisdom or stable dispositions of character. This proposal solves a long-debated problem concerning Aristotle's notion of habituation by showing that shame provides motivational continuity
between the actions of the learners and the virtuous dispositions that they will eventually acquire
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Product details

  • Hardback | 224 pages
  • 165 x 241 x 19mm | 506g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 019882968X
  • 9780198829683
  • 1,482,646

Table of contents

1: Becoming Virtuous By Doing Virtuous Actions
2: Learning Through Pleasure, Pain, the Noble, and the Shameful
3: Pseudo-Virtuous Practices, Pseudo-Virtuous Conditions
4: Connecting Shame with Honor and the Noble
5: The Mixed Nature of Shame
6: Shame as the Proto-Virtue of the Learners
Conclusion - Shame, Love of the Noble, and Moral Development
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Review quote

This volume is a valuable contribution both to studies of Aristotelian emotions and to the literature on Aristotelian ethics. It is well informed, very well argued, and it will be of profit also for readers outside Aristotelian and Classical studies who are interested in the emotions and in their role in education. * Gabriela Rossi, The Classical Review *
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About Marta Jimenez

Marta Jimenez is an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Emory University. Originally from Spain, she was educated in Spain, Germany, the United States, and Canada. Her work focuses mainly on topics related to moral psychology, philosophy of action, theory of emotions, ethics, and political thought in Plato, Aristotle, and the Cynics. She has broader research interests in contemporary ethics, emotion theory, action theory, virtue ethics, and social
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