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December 2013


The Moral Good and Normative Nature in the Aristotelian Ethics, ROBERT GEIS

Nature as the source of moral ordinance in Aristotle received doubt with the publication of J. Donald Monan’s Moral Knowledge and Its Methodology in Aristotle.  Arguing for an earlier versus later Aristotle, he opined for the φρόνιμος  as Aristotle’s final word on the criterion for ethical right.  “Normative Nature and the Moral Good in the Aristotelian Ethics” argues exegetically and on Aristotelian grounds the inaccuracy of such a view.  As early as the Protrepticus, Nature as the guide to proper conduct appears, a view unchanged in the later, mature Ethics.

The Ontological Account of Self-consciousness in Aristotle and Aquinas, JUAN JOSÉ SANGUINETI

This paper studies the notion of self-knowledge in Aristotle and principally in Aquinas.  According to Aristotle, sensitive operations like seeing or hearing can be perceived by the knower (sensitive consciousness), while there can be also an understanding of the understanding, mainly attributed to God, but not exclusively.  In his ethical writings, Aristotle acknowledges the human capacity of understanding and perceiving one’s life and existence, extended also to other persons in the case of friendship.  Aquinas receives this heritage and includes also the habitual self-awareness of the mind which was held by Augustine.  A more ontological view is taken from the Neoplatonic notion of complete reflexivity of the intellectual soul upon its own essence as a manifestation of total immateriality and self-possession, which is a higher way of existing and living.  Thus, the modern idea of self-consciousness is not absent in the Thomistic account of self-understanding, though the term “conscience” was reserved to the moral judgment upon one’s actions as right or wrong.  The Thomistic distinction between habitual existential self-knowledge, which is an intellectual experience including perception and judgment, and scientific and abstract human self-knowledge, is useful and provides insight to the ontological value of existential self-knowledge.  The last part of the paper argues that according to Aquinas there is a deep connection between self-knowledge and self-love, provided they are rooted on truth and virtue.  This point has many consequence in the notion of shared self-awareness and mutual joy in friendship. The author concludes as well that a genuine self-understanding is possible only in friendship based upon virtue.—Correspondence to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Philosophical Prayer in Proclus’ Commentary on the Timaeus, DANIELLE A. LAYNE

In response to Timaeus’ invocation of the gods at Timaeus 27c1-d4, Proclus discusses, in his commentary on the text, the value of prayer.  Heralding the fact that prayer marks the soul’s epistrophe or return to its causative principle, Proclus proceeds to exonerate those who invoke and pray to the gods, arguing that prayer enacts the emergence of human freedom in the determined world.  He argues that since the gods are not only our superior causes but also the ones who have wisely granted self-motion to human souls, we possess the freedom to acknowledge the role of providence or to remain, as Proclus describes, entrapped in the realm of Fate.  In other words, human beings must decide (boulesis) to become what they are in the simple act of revering the gods, i.e. reverting to or knowing their divine cause.  To pray is not to ask for things to be otherwise, but to pray is to fulfill providence freely, to become self-moved and self-knowing, therein becoming like and returning to our divine origins.  Proclus concludes that this is the peculiar form of prayer for the philosopher as the philosophical life is dependent upon our will and the decisive commitment to articulating and communing with the highest metaphysical principles.  Accordingly, for Proclus, Timaeus, in illustrating the order and providential nature of things in his “likely story,” frees himself from the trappings of fate, praying decisively and silently throughout his entire endeavor.—Correspondence to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Kant’s Two Touchstones for Conviction: The Incommunicable Dimension of Moral Faith, JOSEPH S. TRULLINGER

This paper uncovers a much-neglected ambiguity in Kant’s conception of rational religion, namely, a confusion regarding the public communicability of moral faith, which would in turn render faith and knowledge indistinguishable.  The few scholars who have noticed this ambiguity pursue its epistemic dimensions, but this paper explores its ramifications for Kant’s claim that coherent moral agency requires religious faith, taking issue with Lawrence Pasternack’s recent interpretation.  Once one notices Kant has two methods (or “touchstones”) for distinguishing conviction from persuasion, one is better able to understand the connection he draws between religious conviction and conscientious character, and the corresponding connection between mere persuasion and spurious faith.  While Kant does not explicitly acknowledge this parallel, this paper reveals that it is in play across the Kantian corpus, and is especially perspicuous in his analysis of the biblical figures of Job (the paragon of Kantian faith) and his comforters (men of pseudo-conviction).—Correspondence to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Truth, the Good, and the Unity of Theory and Practice, RICHARD DIEN WINFIELD

Ever since Plato, philosophers have recognized the relationship of truth and the good to be of central importance.  Nevertheless, what that relationship is has been a source of ongoing controversy.  At one extreme, truth has been identified with the good, whereas at the other, truth and the good have been kept apart as irreconcilably separate.  How the relationship between truth and the good is construed has decisive ramifications for what each is conceived to be and for how theory and practice are related.  Three figures play a seminal role in exploring the relation of truth and the good: Plato, Kant, and Hegel.  Through considering their respective investigations, we will find that so long as truth and the good are held apart, not only will theory and practice be devoid of any unity, but theory will be just as unable to attain truth as practice will be unable to realize the good.



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