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Passion's Triumph over ReasonA History of the Moral Imagination from Spenser to Rochester$
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Christopher Tilmouth

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199212378

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199212378.001.0001

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Positions in Early Modern Moral Thought

Positions in Early Modern Moral Thought

(p.15) 1 Positions in Early Modern Moral Thought
Passion's Triumph over Reason

Christopher Tilmouth (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes ideas of rational self-governance and assessments of the worth (or otherwise) of the passions put forward by: Erasmus and Plato; Cicero and the Stoics; Aristotle, Aquinas, and other Aristotelian writers; and Calvin and selected English Calvinists. The Platonists and Stoics are shown to be hostile to the passions, advocating psychomachia, i.e., a rational struggle against such emotions. By contrast, some of the Aristotelians — those whose thinking on the affections is scarcely taken up in Elizabethan England — think the latter can be habituated under reason's influence so as to assist virtue's purposes. Calvinists dismiss human nature (and hence also the passions) as utterly depraved and incapable of goodness except when visited by God's grace. Even when such grace is bestowed, this does not wholly redeem man's felt life.

Keywords:   psychomachia, Erasmus, Stoics, Aristotle, habituation, Aquinas, Aristotelianism, Calvinism, grace

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