Philosophy and the Good Life: Reason and the Passions in by John Cottingham PDF

By John Cottingham

ISBN-10: 0511007019

ISBN-13: 9780511007019

ISBN-10: 0521473101

ISBN-13: 9780521473101

Can philosophy permit us to steer higher lives via a scientific figuring out of our human nature? John Cottingham's thought-provoking research examines 3 significant philosophical ways to this challenge. beginning with the makes an attempt of Classical philosophers to deal with the recalcitrant forces of the passions, he strikes directly to research the ethical psychology of Descartes, and concludes through reading the insights of contemporary psychoanalytic idea into the human problem. His examine offers a clean and not easy standpoint on ethical philosophy and psychology for college students and experts alike.

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Fact and value are inextricably intertwined here: the good for the acorn is to realize its potentialities, to grow into the healthy and flourishing oak-tree which represents the end-state towards which its nature tends. And so, mutatis mutandis, for human beings. In his Physics, Aristotle raises the question of whether nature might work ‘not for the sake of something, nor because it is better so, but out of blind necessity'. It is impossible, he bluntly declares, that this could be the case. Teeth (the incisors for tearing, the molars for grinding) cannot be the result of coincidence, and so they must be for an end: Action for an end is present in all things which come to be, and are, by nature.

2. Conduct of life. 3. Reason. 4. Emotions — Moral and ethical aspects. 5. Ethics, Ancient. 6. Descartes, René, 1596–1650 — Ethics. 7. Psychoanalysis and philosophy. 8. Psychoanalysis — Moral and ethical aspects. I. Title. C68 1998 170-dc21 98-27898 CIP ISBN 0 521 47310 1 hardback ISBN 0 521 47890 1 paperback eISBN 0 511 00701 9 Page vii For MLC, MGC and JLC Page ix Contents Acknowledgementspage xiNote on ReferencesxiiiIntroduction1 1Philosophy and how to live52 Ratiocentric Ethics293 The ethics of science and power614 Ethics and the challenge to reason104 Notes167Bibliography218Index227 Page xi Acknowledgements A considerable portion of the work for this book was completed during my tenure of the Radcliffe Fellowship in Philosophy in 1993–4, and I should like to express my grateful thanks to the Radcliffe Trustees for their support.

The first chapter prepares the ground by saying something about this synoptic conception, and looking at some of the reasons for its eclipse in our own century. The second chapter goes back to the origins of the synoptic conception in Classical thought, and selectively examines some of the ideas of Plato, Aristotle and the Hellenistic philosophers about the role of philosophical reason in determining and moulding the conditions for the good life. The third chapter sets out Descartes’ conception of ethics, his view of the relationship of morality to the rest of his philosophical system, and his conception of human nature (far richer and more complex than the idea of the incorporeal thinking self with which his name is so often associated); it is Cartesian ‘anthropology’ – the account of the human being as union of mind and body – that is the basis for Descartes’ account of how we may use the resources of philosophy to help us achieve fulfilled lives.

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Philosophy and the Good Life: Reason and the Passions in Greek, Cartesian and Psychoanalytic Ethics by John Cottingham


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