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The Impossibility of PerfectionAristotle, Feminism, and the Complexities of Ethics$
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Michael Slote

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199790821

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199790821.001.0001

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The Impossibility of Perfection

The Impossibility of Perfection

(p.39) Chapter 2 The Impossibility of Perfection
The Impossibility of Perfection

Micheal Slote

Oxford University Press

This chapter homes in on Aristotle and recent Aristotelianism, which have mainly assumed that the virtues are unified, that in order to have one virtue one must have them all. What can be said about partial values and the inevitability of imperfection stands diametrically opposed to the Aristotelian picture of human good and virtue, and our examples—together with the complexities and richness of modern life that they illustrate—offer us some reason to finally reject the simpler Aristotelian ethical picture. The notion of partial values on which so much in the more complex account depends also turns out to have interesting parallels in what Freud said about “partial instincts” and what Hartry Field has more recently said about “partial signification.”

Keywords:   Aristotle, frankness, Sigmund Freud, Hartry Field, partial instincts, partial signification, perfection, tactfulness, unity thesis

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