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The Philosophers of Chapter 7

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1 The Philosophers of Chapter 7
Education-Graduation Rate Student Enrollment Higher Ed Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Immanuel Kant, Emmanuel Levinas

2 Plato (427-347 B.C.) Taught Aristotle “the Good” compared to the sun
The sun as a source of light allows us to see all things The good shines upon all our actions

3 Nowhere do we find THE good, we only find good things.
Beauty is found everywhere & in all things, but we don’t find BEAUTY ITSELF. The closest we can come to the good is in contemplation. We bask in the good, and it enters into our knowing.

4 Philosophy is Important to Plato
Philosophers are contemplatives of the good Therefore, they are closest to the good Philosophers know how to act in accordance with their beliefs, They make true choices about the value & worth of their actions They have chosen the happiest life

5 Philosophers are better
Others are ruled by feelings They measure actions by enjoyment not value Philosophers choose particular actions because they are true In The Republic, the ideal state is ruled by the “philosopher king”

6 Plato vs. Sophism Sophist ideas threatened to undermine morality
Sophists proclaimed there could be no truth, all “so-called truth” is only opinion No universal truth = no universal moral code

7 Sophists Moral values only cultural or personal opinion
Life is ruled by needs & desires, not reason The best life one of sensual pleasure (Callicles) Pointless to argue about the good in general

8 For Sophists Neither goodness, nor justice exists on its own, there are only good people or just people There was no need to think about moral principles or “the good”

9 Plato’s response The thinking of the Sophists caused the state to deteriorate to a near-total moral collapse Private pleasures like greed satisfying elemental needs like food, drink, sex and power led to disorder and anarchy REASON which finds the good that pervades all is the answer!

10 Aristotle ( B.C.) A major influence on Catholic teaching (via St. Thomas Aquinas) Agrees with Plato All aspire to some good and seek to be happy Concerned with short-sightedness of searching for happiness following instincts & sensual pleasures Philosophers most likely to succeed

11 Aristotle differs from Plato
Aristotle is more “down-to-earth” Plato’s idea of the good was too abstract People don’t find THE good, they find A good. Contemplation doesn’t lead to the IDEA of good, but to the good within all things

12 For Aristotle It is important to know the nature of all things
Hence his interest in science & politics Humans are self-directed beings

13 Aristotle “Young people can become mathematicians and geometers and wise in things of that sort; but they do not appear to become people of practical wisdom. The reason is that practical wisdom is of the particular, which becomes graspable through experience, but a young person is not experienced. For a quantity of time is required for experience.”

14 Review of Aristotle & the Good
Absolute good can only be found in God. Good is inscribed by God into the nature of all things. To find the good in anything: discover first its purpose, its end, what it is for

15 Review continued One develops good character by acting virtuously, virtues control passions. Good is found in the middle The mark of humanity: to reason and act rationally Ethical action engages capacity to reason. Highest happiness: live an ethical life

16 St. Thomas Aquinas ( ) Greek philosophy, especially Plato’s, had a strong influence on Christian moral thinking & theology until the 13th C. After the 11th C, Aristotle’s work became more well known Aquinas, a Dominican friar (O.P.) incorporated Aristotle’s ideas

17 Aquinas Greatest works: Aquinas calls him “The Philosopher”
Summa contra Gentiles, Summa theologica Build on his understanding of the work of Aristotle Aquinas calls him “The Philosopher”

18 Aquinas agrees with Aristotle
The ethical comes from the end that is inscribed in the nature of all creatures What something is FOR is at the very core of what something IS. The desire for good is at a person’s core. God is the highest good!

19 Some differences For Aquinas, God is Trinitarian (Father, Son, & Holy Spirit) The resurrection of Jesus and immortality of the human soul give a more refined notion of the end of human beings People were made for happiness Happiness is the good life of a virtuous person

20 Human Happiness Not exhausted with the good life on earth, there is a fuller happiness Found only in a loving vision of God In the resurrection as God’s pure gift

21 Aquinas’ ethics has 2 levels
Like Aristotle: good life living and acting well Good life lived out of use of intelligence & other capacities God’s self-gift to us in Jesus and the Holy Spirit changes the way we define the good

22 Creation is good, to know how to use one’s intellectual and sensual capacities one must follow the natural law. “nothing other than the light of understanding placed in us by God; through it we know what we must do and what we must avoid.”

23 Virtues are key! (the Cardinal Virtues)
Prudence: how to reason well in moral decision-making. Temperance: how to remain moderate in the exercise of the emotions Fortitude: how to be courageous in the face of difficulties. Justice: how to act well in relation to others.

24 Theological Virtues Faith: God’s self-revealing action
Hope: desire for communion with God Charity: (Love) God’s love for us, allows us to love others.

25 Immanuel Kant ( ) The most difficult notion of the good and happiness to follow? Recall: reason was very important in Kant’s time (the Enlightenment) No: kings, priests, churches, bibles, unless, reason could prove their right to authority Reason the sole authority!

26 Kant rejects Aristotle & Aquinas
For them, happiness is a by-product of doing good. Kant argued: people do good out of their DUTY to do so. People of reason act out of duty, Finding the reason within themselves Since they live autonomously

27 Recall that for Kant All goods (intelligence, love, experience of beauty and religious experience) are of lesser value than a good will (they are only the means to obtain a good will.) The soul was immortal since it was impossible to achieve the supreme good in this life

28 Kant on God God is also held to duty.
God makes certain that we can achieve the supreme good The supreme good (i.e., God) is a necessary condition of reason.

29 Review on Kant The only good is a good will.
Good is only good if it is done out a good will and provides no personal gain. An act is not moral if you enjoy doing it. Moral acts are performed out of duty and obligation. Reason dictates what is good.

30 Emmanuel Levinas ( ) The infinite Good, God, is the heart of ethics. Good comes as a call, a vocation. The good does not come from oneself. When I am called to respond to another, I am called to be good without reward, without self-interest.

31 In the face of another, I am turned from myself and my own interests and desires towards the other.
The other awakens me to the highest good.

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